Chp 12 – Schools and Formal education
- Education is one of the most important aspects in gaining a healthy and comfortable life.
- In the past, education was a privilege, reserved for the wealthy.
o Today, education is considered as a right for every child. This belief is expressed in the
United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals, helping children across the globe to
gain primary school education.
- Credentialism is the rising need for more sophisticated educational qualifications, it is an
increasingly trend in today’s market labour.
- Education also delivers societal values, along with skills needed for work.
o Education incorporates concepts such as teamwork, leadership, tolerance. These ideas
help people to integrate into today’s society. Education also increases people’s ability to
form opinions and react accordingly to today’s complex events etc.
- Education is defined as a process designed to develop one’s general capacity for thinking
critically, as well as a capacity for self-understanding and self-reliance.
- People who have more, get more and they tend to pass this advantage on to their children.
o To break the cycle of disadvantage, societies in the world based educational system very
strictly on merit and make high quality educational available to everyone.
- Formal education is education received in accredited schools during formal teaching sessions
- Informal education is the variety of ways we undertake to gain knowledge for ourselves outside
institutions of formal education.
WAYS OF LOOKING AT EDUCATION
- Functionalist focus on the manifest and latent functions of education in our society, and the
degree to which schools are currently formed fulfill these functions.
o Focus on human capital functions of education: on improving the abilities of workers to
bring significant value to their jobs and workplaces through their knowledge and skills.
E.g. through training
- Critical theorists often focus on the latent functions education. E.g. how schools keep young
people ‘off the streets’
o Also studies schools as a source of hidden curriculum, that teaches student their ‘proper’
place in society according to their gender and their social class.
Some say the boredom and subordination children suffer in school is good
preparation for boredom and subordination in work.
According to critical theory, the job of schools is not to give students
‘human capital and skills’ but rather to train them in patient obedience,
the essential qualification for most non-professional work in our society.
Schools also promotes meritocratic ethic, which teaches students to
hold responsibility for success and failure – an ideology suitable in a
capitalist society. - Symbolic interactionists show, schools also teachers students how to dress and behave, as befits
their social role as a girl or boy, middle-class or working class.
- The academic revolution (Jencks and Riesman)
o Looks at the historical ties between schools and societies, and examines the evolving
role of higher education in modern, post-industrial society.
Shows that bureaucratization of American society, colleges and universities
have been transformed from cohesive, small and localized units into a single
national system of higher training.
System operates like a funnel
Jencks and Riesman claim that professors shape the academic ‘revolution’ by
promoting meritocracy and favouring a international orientation in the
admission process (based on ability).
However this revolution has not succeeded fully.
o Positions in the top institutions are limited and only the wealthy
This problem is credited to the unequal structure of
Compared to US, Canadian education reform is similar to what Jencks and
Canada has smaller system of colleges and Universities
Smaller range of inequality
Canadians have at least one or two good universities in their own
- Critics from Hacker
o Top universities keep pumping out Ph.D.s who can’t get suitable jobs.
o Students get an education they don’t need and can’t use, while putting themselves in
debt for the next 10 years.
Despite criticisms, many find Jencks and riesman’s study to be genuinely
revealing and persuasive.
- Nonetheless, schools play an important part of the disadvantage’s lives.
o Women, racial and ethnic minorities in Canada have experienced important increases in
Partly due to highly educated immigrants, not necessarily by minority groups
advancing within the educational system.
Even though, women and minorities continue to face obstacles for
education and career advancements. o A factor that discourages foreign graduates is the unacceptability of foreign credentials
to Canadian workforce.
Often force immigrants to take up jobs which they are over-qualified
Immigrants are far more likely to push their children to get higher qualifications
This may represent an effort to regain socio-economic status they held
in their native country and lost on coming to Canada.
Education is then the best long term investment a non-wealthy person
o There is no better way to get a secure income, and social
- On the other hand, aboriginal groups continue to be under-represented in Canada
o Inequality in educational can be traced from childhood.
Children tend to go to primary schools near their neighbourhood.
Aboriginals, who are poor, live in rural neighbourhood which have no
primary schools. Therefore, they are less likely to attend school
- The adolescent society – S. Coleman
o Notes that students spend more time of their life in school. School in many ways have
come to replace families in learning about the world.
o Studying adolescent popularity and finds that, for teenagers, and young adults,
academic achievement means nothing and looking good means everything.
Appearance features accounts more than brains
Argues that teenagers’ subculture is largely separate from the adult world.
It has a distinct set of values and own social system of power and
o The adolescent way of thinking is dysfunctional for the society
As it discourages academic ambition, and undermines
the preparation of students for a workforce where
knowledge is critical.
Fails to prepare teenagers for adult life
- Coleman asserts that social changes associated with industrialization have separated
adolescents from adults, leading them to seek approval from age peers in whose company they
spend most of their time at school.
o Athletics boys, fashionable and pretty girls rule!
So called: frivolous values
- Critics suggests
o The subculture reflects the larger social values. Parents are just as shallow as
o This subculture is one of the large variety of the larger society’s major values - Clique formation is a normal par