Just Sociology

Understanding Education Theories: Exploring Functionalism Marxism Paul Willis Feminism and the New Right

Education is an essential part of human development, with numerous benefits ranging from personal growth to job opportunities. It is a fundamental part of modern society, and its importance cannot be overstated as it allows individuals to develop the necessary skills and knowledge for success.

However, education is not just about learning how to read or write. It is a complex system that is deeply rooted in social, political, and economic factors.

The theories of functionalism and

Marxism offer profound insights into the workings of the education system, and this article will explore their key tenets.

Functionalism

Functionalism is a sociological theory that explains how various parts of society work together to ensure its smooth functioning. Functionalists believe that education teaches specialist skills for work, and students learn subjects such as maths, science, literature, and languages to prepare them for the workforce.

From a functionalist perspective, GCSEs grades are used as a measure of a students ability, and they are allocated jobs based on their qualifications and talents.

Education teaches specialist skills for work

Education prepares students for the job market by teaching them specific skills that are required in the workforce. According to functionalists, education is a way to ensure that each individual can contribute to society and fill essential roles.

Schools teach a range of subjects that allow students to acquire expertise in various fields, such as business, engineering, medicine, teaching, and law. The skills and knowledge acquired during education provide individuals with the necessary skills to secure jobs during their career journey.

Role Allocation and Meritocracy

Functionalist theory believes that role allocation and meritocracy are crucial principles in the education system. Role allocation is the process of assigning jobs to individuals based on merit, qualifications, and talents.

Functionalists argue that education creates a fair and equal basis for job assignments, where individuals are selected based on their abilities and qualifications and not on their social or economic backgrounds. Meritocracy is the belief that people should be rewarded based on their abilities and merits rather than on their social background, class, or ethnicity.

Functionalists believe that the education system should operate based on meritocracy, as it encourages individuals to work hard and achieve their best. In this sense, examinations provide a level playing field where all students have the same opportunity to succeed.

Marxism

Marxist theory focuses on the relationship between social classes and how economic power influences society. According to Marxists, the education system reinforces and reproduces social inequalities by maintaining myths of meritocracy.

Marxist theories suggest that education teaches specific skills for future capitalist employers through a hidden curriculum. The hidden curriculum is a set of unwritten rules and values that are taught alongside the formal curriculum.

Reproduction of Class Inequality and Myth of Meritocracy

Marxists believe that the methods used in education, such as examinations and qualifications, reinforce social inequalities by maintaining the myth of meritocracy. Meritocracy is a myth that suggests that people are rewarded based on their abilities and merit regardless of their social background, class, or ethnicity.

Marxists argue that the education system does not create a level playing field, and rather it reinforces the existing social hierarchies. Marxist theorists argue that the existing systems reproduce social inequalities by reinforcing the power and privileges of the middle class while limiting the opportunities for the working class.

They believe that the education system perpetuates this class inequality by rewarding those who are already advantaged and depriving the disadvantaged. Marxists suggest that the education system plays a crucial role in reproducing class inequality.

School teaches skills for future Capitalist Employers through Hidden Curriculum

Marxist theory suggests that the education system teaches specific skills for future capitalist employers through the hidden curriculum. The hidden curriculum refers to the unwritten rules and values that are taught alongside the formal curriculum.

These may include learning how to work within an authority system, how to accept social hierarchies, and other values that prepare individuals for future employment within capitalist systems. The hidden curriculum reinforces the existing social hierarchies and power structures, preparing students to accept authority, follow orders, and work for capitalist employers.

In this sense, Marxists argue that the education system does not empower individuals to critically evaluate the political and economic forces that shape their lives but rather reproduce and sustain the existing systems of power.

Conclusion

The education system is a complex structure that influences individuals’ social, political, and economic lives. The theories of functionalism and

Marxism offer profound insights into how the education system works.

While functionalism emphasizes the importance of education in teaching specific skills for work and providing a fair and equal basis for job assignments,

Marxism focuses on how the education system perpetuates social inequalities by reinforcing the power and privileges of the middle class. The Marxist theory of hidden curriculum highlights how the education system reinforces and reproduces social inequalities by teaching students the values and attitudes necessary for future capitalist employers.

The discussion of these complex theories provides deeper understandings of the education system’s workings and its impact on society.Paul Willis and Feminism are two significant theories that provide further understanding of the education system’s complexities. Paul Willis is a British sociologist who studied the counter-school culture of twelve working-class boys in a school in Birmingham.

The feminist theory is significant in discussing gender disparities in the education system. This article will overview the key tenets of these theories.

Paul Willis

Counter-School Culture

Paul Willis counter-school culture theory aimed to investigate young male students resistance to mainstream education. According to Willis, the twelve boys he studied shared a counter-school value system that was the opposite of the traditional education system values.

This culture viewed manual work as better than academic work, and the lads believed that they were not suited to academic work. The counter-school culture was oppositional and anti-establishment.

Willis study demonstrates how some students resist mainstream education, as they believe that it does not provide meaningful opportunities or adequately represent their values. The three main factors that contributed to the counter-school culture were peer group pressure, response to authority figures, and an opposition to school subjects that had no real-world value.

Belief in Manual Work and Opposition to Traditional Education

The counter-school culture of the lads Willis studied’s belief in manual work was at the core of their resistance to the traditional education system. The boys believed that manual work was a more valuable and rewarding way of living than academic work, and they viewed themselves as naturally suited for manual labour.

In this sense, the lads believed that the traditional education curriculum was pointless. Furthermore, counter-school culture members did not believe that school was a place to gain valuable skills and knowledge, but an institution in which they learned to conform obediently, and there was no purpose for education other than to show potential employers that they were hard working pupils.

This theory suggests that mainstream education is not best suited for all, and some students may excel more in learning practical skills than academic skills.

Feminism

Stereotypical Views Affecting Subject Choices

Feminism is a critical theory that emphasizes the inequalities between genders and how they affect education. Feminists suggest that individuals’ subject choices are a reflection of the influence of stereotypical views enforced by teachers, parents, and careers advisors.

There is an issue in which female students are encouraged to consider certain careers while males are encouraged to consider other careers, based on societal expectations and stereotypical gender norms. For instance, boys are encouraged to follow careers in engineering or computer science while girls are encouraged to pursue careers in nursing or teaching.

Studies have demonstrated that, often, teachers tend to encourage girls to be more creative, while guiding boys towards more analytical subjects. This encourages boys towards STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering, and maths) subjects, which are known to lead to higher-paid careers, while girls are encouraged towards art and language subjects.

Gender Pay Gap Despite Better Academic Performance

Feminist theory suggests that there is inequality suffered by women regarding their pay relative to their educational attainment. Women earn less than men, even when their qualifications are similar.

The gender pay gap is not explained by the lack of academic qualifications, as women tend to perform better academically than men. Data gathered worldwide shows that women are consistently paid less than men in most professions, even where qualifications and time worked are the same.

As the academic performance of women has improved and more women are entering higher-paid professions, feminists believe that the gender pay gap should have reduced. However, the data still demonstrates that gender pay inequality is prevalent in society, which reinforces the importance of addressing the issue through legislation and other forms of intervention.

Conclusion

The theories of Paul Willis and feminism provide crucial insights into the education system’s complexities. Willis demonstrates how some students resist institutionalised forms of mainstream education, while feminists highlight the ways in which gender inequality has an impact on education.

The counter-school culture study by Willis highlights the significance of manual work and how academic education does not suit everyone. Whereas, feminism theories provide insight into the impact of societal norms on subject choices and gender disparities faced by women in academic attainment and employment.

Understanding these theories’ principles will enable education policies to address issues and create a more equal, fair and effective education system.The education system plays a vital role in equipping individuals with skills and knowledge that allow them to succeed in the economy actively. The New Right is a conservative political and economic movement that advocates for economic and social policies that emphasize free markets and individualism.

The New Right argues that education should prioritize training individuals with the skills necessary to meet the needs of the economy, especially during times of rising unemployment. This article will focus on the two key tenets of the New Right theory: Rising Unemployment and the Need for a Skilled Workforce and New Vocationalism and Meeting the Needs of the Industry.

New Right

Rising Unemployment and Need for Skilled Workforce

The New Right theory considers rising unemployment rates as a concern and argues that education should be designed to provide the necessary training and qualifications for the available jobs. The priority of the education system should be to train individuals for the needs of the economy rather than solely academic pursuits.

For example, in times of recession or economic instability, training courses can provide the necessary skills and qualifications for jobs in demand. New Right theorists argue that an education system that caters for the economy will lead to a sustainable economy and higher employment rates.

The New Right’s perception of education assumes that academic qualifications alone are not enough to arrest unemployment. There is an urgent need to focus on practical training, that would address the needs of the economy.

Converting academic programs into practical and vocational training programs will align more closely with the industry needs, reducing the risk of structural unemployment.

New Vocationalism and Meeting Needs of Industry

The emergence of the New Vocationalism from the New Right theory prioritizes preparing individuals with the skills necessary to meet the demands of the industry. According to this theory, preparing students for employment involves providing them with not only academic qualifications but also practical training experience.

These practical training programs are designed to meet the specific needs of different employers and respond to the demands of the changing economy. New Vocationalism emphasizes learning practical and technical skills that are required in the workforce.

Technical schools and vocational training programs are an essential component of the education system that is aligned with the needs of the industry. New Vocationalism is a movement that encourages students to explore routes such as trade schools, apprenticeships, vocational education and training that would allow them to acquire subjects and skills that for future job opportunities.

Theoretical considerations around New Vocationalism suggest that by pursuing technical training and vocational education, students would have a better opportunity to secure job opportunities. New Vocationalism emphasizes aligning educational systems with the economic needs of the country.

Conclusion

The New Right theory emphasizes the importance of aligning education policies with the needs of the economy to provide a skilled workforce that can meet the labour market’s demands. The New Right argues that education must prioritize practical training and vocational programs that are industry-specific to tackle unemployment.

Through New Vocationalism, students can learn practical and technical skills that are needed in the modern workforce. The New Right is a significant theory that sheds light on how education systems must be designed to meet the needs of the economy and ensure sustainable employment opportunities.

In conclusion, the education system is a complex institution that is deeply rooted in social, political, economic, and cultural factors. Understanding the theories of functionalism,

Marxism, Paul Willis, Feminism, and the New Right provides important insights into the education system’s workings, highlighting its strengths and weaknesses.

These theories challenge conventional wisdom and underscore the importance of creating a fair and equal education system that caters to the needs of the economy while fostering personal growth and creativity. By exploring these theories, we can continue to improve education policies and ensure that individuals have access to the knowledge and skills they need to succeed in life.

FAQs:

1) What is functionalism?

Functionalism is a sociological theory that explains how various parts of society work together to ensure its smooth functioning.

2) What is

Marxism?

Marxism is a sociological and economic theory that emphasizes the role of class struggle in society and highlights the exploitation of the working class by the middle and upper class. 3) What is the counter-school culture?

Counter-school culture is a value system that opposes mainstream education and emphasizes manual work over academic work. 4) What is feminism?

Feminism is a critical theory that emphasizes the inequalities between genders and how they affect education, employment, and social life. 5) What is the New Right?

The New Right is a conservative political and economic movement that advocates for economic and social policies that emphasize free markets and individualism.

Popular Posts