Chapter Six Education
Objectives • To introduce functionalist, Marxist and feminist theories of the relationship between schooling and society. • To critically examine the role of intelligence in school achievement. • To explain the role of the school in the reproduction of class inequalities. • To discuss some of the ways in which education is being affected by the development of new information technologies.
Schooling and society • Structural-functionalist perspective • Durkheim • Importance of education in the transmission of societal norms and values • Fostering value consensus and social solidarity • Parsons • School important in transition from family to work • Shift from ascribed to achieved status • Education as a means of overcoming inequality • School as a meritocratic system
Schooling and society • Structuralist perspectives • Critical of education as a means of social mobility • Marxists • Correspondence principle (Bowles and Gintis) • Role of education to reproduce labour power for employers • Feminists • Hidden curriculum of gender differentiation • Uneven distribution of male/female teachers, different expectations and subject availability for boys and girls
Intelligence and achievement • Achievement based on meritocracy • Ability (IQ) + Effort = Merit • Intelligence: • Established as mental ability that is inherited and can be accurately measured (IQ) • IQ tests focus on genetics differences only BUT • Studies have shown that social inequalities and disadvantage are important in the construction of intelligence
Education and class inequalities • Studies demonstrate on-going reproduction of class inequalities relating to education and achievement • Cultural deprivation theories • Failure at school due to deficiencies in working-class culture • Cultural capital (Pierre Bourdieu) • Privileged forms of language, values, self-presentation and knowledge transmitted from the middle-class and recognised by the school • Working-class do not have access to this cultural capital
Technology and education • Development of new information technologies • Computers, the Internet, satellite technology etc • Potential impact on education: • New technologies being used within schools • Possibility of education via electronic media replacing more traditional forms • Concerns: • Availability of information does not necessarily mean an increase in knowledge • Disadvantages those who suffer from information poverty • Problematic to rely too heavily on the role of technology
Summary • Education is one of the most important social institutions • The schooling process contributes to the reproduction of inequalities • Gender, ethnicity, class • New information technologies lead to: • Possibilities for changing schooling • Increase global connections between people • Technological developments cannot be separated from larger social/political context