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chapter 17 Education.doc

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Malcolm Mac Kinnon

Chapter 17 Education • A complete system of schools, from elementary to post-graduate, is the prerequisite of industrial society and is found in all rich societies. Consequently, national wealth and national education levels are strongly related. • School systems carry out two tasks: homogenizing and sorting. Students are made similar by indoctrination into a common cultural system but are also steered and select- ed into different socioeconomic classes/ • Mss education, once established, brings about nearly universal literacy and numeracy. Mass education inducts large populations into the linguistic and cultural uniformity that provides the basis for modern nationalism. • Functionalists believe that education fosters meritocracy. Conflict theorists argue that the high cost of education favours the wealthy and that schools inevitably favour stu- dents whose parents are highly educated. • Inside schools, inequalities are reproduced by a hidden curriculum that values middle- class manners and attitudes, by testing and tracking that segregate students by class background, and by self-fulfilling prophecies of poor performance by lower-class stu- dents. Females recently have begun to exceed males in years of completed schooling. How- • ever, men remain more likely to complete programs that most often lead to high pay. Today, more than half the people in developing nations are illiterate. In India alone, more than 400 million people cannot read or write and nearly 35 million children do not attend school. The Proportion of people between the ages of 25 and 64 with a college or university de- gree is higher in Canada than in any other country at 48% (Japan is in second place at 40%, the US third at 39%) Although more than 5% of families send children to private schools and about 1 in 200 children is home-schooled, some 94% of families surrender their children to public schooling. Education is the most visible option for improving employment opportunities. Educational achievement is the learning or skill that an individual acquires and at least in principle it is what grades reflect Educational attainment is the number of years of schooling completed or, for higher levels, certificates and degrees earned. Higher educational attainment is effective for securing more employment and higher earnings. Education also enhances earnings prospects. Four factors account for the spread of mass schooling: 1) The development of the printing press that led to inexpensive book production 2) The Protestant Reformation 3) The spread of democracy 4) Industrialism Printing Press: In 1436, Johann Gutenberg introduced the printing press with move- able type to Europe Protestant Reformation: In the early sixteenth century, Martin Luther, a German monk, began to criticize the Catholic Church. Protestantism grew out of his criticisms. The Protestants believed that the Bible alone, and not Church doctrine, should guide Chris- tians. They expected Christians to have more direct contact with the word of God than was allowed by the Catholic Church. Accordingly, Protestants needed to be able to read the scriptures for themselves. The rise of Protestantism was thus a spur to popular liter- acy. Democracy: The rise of political democracy led to free education for all children. Where local populations acquired the democratic means to tax themselves, tax-support- ed schools arose. (The earliest such systems were in Upper Canada and the northern United States in about 1870. By 1900, Canada and the US were the first countries in the world in which enrollment rates for all children aged 5 to 14 exceeded 90 percent. Another first: at least in elementary education, girls were enrolled at almost the same rate as boys were.) Industrialization: Mass education was widely recognized as an absolute necessity for creating an industrial economy. The Industrial Revolution began in England in the 1780s. Germany and US soon sought to catch up to England, and by the turn of the 20th century, they had surpassed it. Ger- many had thee finest universities in the world. They were particularly famous for scien- tific research. German achievements were widely admired, and German universities were directly copied, first in the US, and then throughout the world. Eventually, it was universally acknowledged that the first step to achieving a highly pro- ductive economy is to create an education system that is large enough to create a mass labour force and rich enough to train and employ an elite group of researchers able to work at the cutting edge of modern science. • Greater amounts of education are associated with greater national wealth. In general, education helps to generate wealth but it is by no means the only deter- • mining factor. Education is not only a source of wealth; it is also a product of wealth. • • A significant fraction of a country’s population must invest a great deal of money and time to become educated before there are enough teachers to instruct nearly everyone. • Education enhances the ability to generate earnings and wealth, but educational ac- cumulation is greatly facilitated by earlier accumulation of wealth. -----Unintended Functions 1) Schools do not merely carry out training; they also concentrate young people into a small number of places. Schools encourage the development of a separate youth cul- ture that often conflicts with parents’ values (Typically, peer rankings in schools don’t favour academic success; instead, they reward athletes and students popular with the opposite sex) 2) At higher levels, educational institutions bring potential mates together, thus serving as a “marriage market.” (Assortative mating----choosing a mate who is similar to one- self on various ranking criteria ) 3) Schools also perform a useful custodial service by keeping children under close sur- veillance for much of the day and freeing parents to work in the paid labour f
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