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Sociology 3321F/G

Functionalist Perspective of Education • Functionalists consider education to perform the following manifest functions: 1) Transmission of the mainstream culture – Schools transmit cultural norms and values to each new generation and play an active part in the process of assimilation, whereby recent immigrants learn dominant cultural values, attitudes, and behaviors. 2) Social placement – Schools are responsible for identifying the most qualified people to fill the positions available in society; as a result, students are channeled into programs based on individual ability and academic achievement. 3) Training students for adult roles – Schools assist students with personal development as well as provide career guidance. 4) Socialization – Schools teach students the appropriate student role, specific academic subjects, and political socialization. 5) Social Control – Schools are responsible for teaching values such as discipline, respect, obedience, punctuality, and perseverance. Schools teach conformity by encouraging young people to be good students, conscientious future workers, and law-abiding citizens. 6) Change and innovation – Schools are a source of change and innovation. As student populations change over time, new programs are introduced to meet societal needs (e.g., sex education, drug education, and multicultural studies). Innovation in the form of new knowledge is required in colleges and universities. • Functionalists also point out that schools perform latent functions: 1) Restricting some activities – Early in the 20th century, all states passed mandatory education laws that require children to attend school until they reach a specified age or complete a minimum level of education. This served to keep students off the street and out of the full-time job market for a number of years, thus helping to keep unemployment within reasonable bounds. 2) Matchmaking and production of social networks – Because schools bring together people of similar age, social class, and race/ethnicity, young people often meet future marriage partners and develop social networks. 3) Creation of a generation gap – Students may learn information in school that contradicts beliefs held by their parents. The Conflict Perspective of Education • Conflict theorists believe that schools often perpetuate class, racial-ethnic, and gender inequalities as some groups seek to maintain their privileged position at the expense of others. • Tracking – The assignment of students to specific courses and educational programs based on their test scores, previous grades, or both. - Numerous studies have demonstrated that ability grouping and tracking affect students’ academic achievement and career choices. Although the stated purpose of tracking systems is to permit students to
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