Sociological Aspects of Education SOC 101 April 24, 2010 Sociological Aspects in Education The growing diversity in our society has helped to broaden the scope of what and how we educate our children. The scientific study of social behavior and human groups, also known as sociology, has benefitted society with its impacts from different theories (Schaefer, 2009). Education is the foundation of any society and establishes the social and economic wealth for their future.
We will explore education from the three major sociological viewpoints. Functionalist approach “emphasizes the way in which the parts of a society are structured to maintain its stability” (Schaefer, 2007, p. 14). The functionalism theory was influenced by French sociologist Emile Durkheim, who stated that “education perpetuates and reinforces this homogeneity by inculcating in the child’s mind the fundamental relationships required by life in the community” (Hoenisch, 1996).
A simplified characteristic of functionalism is to draw analogies between the biological organism and the social system, to view the societies as made up of component parts whose interrelation contributes to the maintenance of the whole, and to focus on the problem of order specifying forces that bring cohesion, integration and equilibrium to society. It leads to the belief that students should be taught so that they can work together, become interdependent on each other to obtain results as well as relying on each other to achieve growth, team oriented education and believe the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.
Functionalist feels that education performs two major objectives. One being a “secondary socialization, the process by which people acquire the values of society” (Stevens, 2002). This allows for more successful relationships within one’s secondary group as well. The second objective view of education from a functionalist approach is that it prepares one for the variety of roles they will obtain in their future (Stevens, 2002). This viewpoint affects the views of the individual by having everyone work together cohesively and placing less emphasis on the individual and more on the group as a whole.
Social change is promoted within this theory. The changing of social matters improves the individual, and each individual is part of a greater common good. A functionalist approach to education viewed from society is seen as a sense of community. We are all moving as a group and towards a common goal. All of the teachings that are prepared, all of the lessons being studied have one goal in mind: a better functioning society. The second sociological theory is the conflict perspective.
This theory “assumes that social behavior is best understood in terms of tension between groups over power or the allocation of resources, including housing, money, access to services or political representation” (Schaefer, 2009, p. 14). A simple view of conflict theory is that society is not best understood as a complex system striving for equilibrium but rather as a competition. They view education as a way of “maintaining social inequality and to preserve the power of those who dominate society” (CliffsNotes). Society is made up of individuals competing for limited resources.
Conflict theorists perception is education is based depending on one’s ethnicity and racial status (Schaefer, 2009). The conflict theorists declare there is a hidden curriculum placed on education by society (Schaefer, 2009). The hidden curriculums are “standards of behavior that are deemed proper by society and are taught subtly at schools” (Schaefer, 2009, p. 315). In school, one does not speak without being properly acknowledged by the teacher. They are also time controlled by school bells ending when to leave one class and proceed to another.
Conflict theorists view this as a hidden curriculum to make one focused on obedience rather than learning. Credentialisms or lack of is an argument conflict theorists see in education. “Credentialism is the lowest level of education needed to enter a work field” (Schaefer, 2009, p. 316). Conflict theorists argue that low income students do not have the same opportunity of achieving credentialism as the wealthier do. This is from the lack of financial resources available to them to achieve a higher degree (Schaefer, 2009). How does this affect education?
Each individual can strive to succeed on their own or as part of a small group, trying to earn power, grades and knowledge to give them an advantage in the quest for resources later on. They are taught to be self motivated and they have no one to rely on but themselves. They would spend more time learning strategy and marketable skills versus a well rounded education. This theory focuses primarily on the individual, almost to the point of the exclusion of the group, except where interaction can be more beneficial to the individual. Social change is of little consequence in the conflict theory.
The only significance is as how the individual can better gain resources and use them to his or her advantage. The conflict theory teaches the individual to learn what you can, obtain all the possible resources you can amass and then let society work for you. This takes society at its capitalistic best. Earn the most money, drive the best car and have the best things; but you only have yourself to rely on. Being a bad seed and succeeding is still succeeding. Morality is replaced with the bottom line and the view of society is one of “the world is my oyster”. ncluding symbols and other types of nonverbal communication (Schaefer, 2009, p. 24). Their perspective generalizes about everyday forms of social interaction in order to explain society as a whole” (Schaefer, 2009, p. 16). Interactionism looks at how people behave in small scale situations, with each other. How they behave in different situations and then look at later results to see how the interaction affected the outcome. This is a more specific approach that does not try to generalize their ideas to the whole of society. How does this affect education?
It becomes a student by student, class by class organization. Students are taught what they need to succeed, based on their individual needs and desires; and on how it will help them deal with other students on a one-on-one basis, not as a general rule. Specifics and adaptability are important. How this one student learns and achieves is what matters, not the whole group. They are taught more one-on-one and then take this knowledge and see how it aides in their interaction in different situations, adapting to each new situation as it arises. This is a case by case basis.
This approach deals with teaching one-on-one and helping them adapt to new situations based on what they have learned. And since this is a one-on-one approach, what worked for one individual may not work for all individuals, so there is no system that can be expanded to the general population. Each instance has its own curriculum and time table. After the lessons, the individual will know how to react when faced with an intellectual conversation or an artistic conversation or even a hostile interview. The same knowledge base is being used, only the adaptive interaction changes. Think of giving a sales pitch to different companies.
If you were giving it to the employees of Microsoft, you wouldn’t bring out your iPhone to look up your contacts. And you would use words like software and integration and networks. Now, that same sales pitch in the Deep South would not use these terms. It would incorporate images of NASCAR and Ford trucks and fishing trips. The same pitch, the same product, just different ways of getting the information Interactionism focus on the individual, how they grow and adapt, and on the group. They also focus on how the individual will best interact with them as the situations change.
The approach to social change is greatest in this theory. The ability to adapt and interact is of the utmost importance to the individual. The interactionism theory teaches you to adapt and interact well with others. You will learn how to succeed based on how you can use what you have learned to best fit in. How you can best use the situation and the individual(s) across from you to present the best case scenario. The view of society as a mirror fits well. Based on what type of reflection you see, you will act accordingly and judge yourself accordingly.
Each theory address success at some level, be it at the group. They each address broadening your knowledge base and expanding your thirst for subject matter and teachings. In a nutshell, Functionalism teaches you to be part of a successful team; Conflict teaches you to be the best you can be and Interactionism teaches you to interact and adapt the best. The focus shifts from the group, to the individual, to the interplay within the group. References CliffsNotes. com. Theories of Education. Retrieved April 15th, 2010 from . Hoenisch, S (1996) Durkheim and Educational Systems.
Retrieved April 14th, 2010 from http://www. criticism. com/philosophy/durkheim-on-education. html Schaefer, R. T. (2009) Sociology: A brief introduction (8th ed. ) New York, NY: McGraw Hill Stevens, W. (2002) Functional and Conflict Theory: A point of view. Retrieved April 15th, 2010 from http://www. helium. com/items/828440-functional-and-conflict-theory-a-point-of-view Todd, J (2002) Functional and Conflict Theory: A point of view. Retrieved April 15th, 2010 from http://www. helium. com/items/779460-functional-and-conflict-theory-a-point-of-view [pic][pic]