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Lecture Notes up to the Midterm

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Julian Tanner

Lecture Notes before Midterm 18/09/2012 10:06:00 AM 3 ways that schools connect to society : Selection o We graduate from the educational system with different badges of ability o Educational Selection is linked to inequality: University vs. college vs. work place. Does it have to do with their ability, or status, racial background, etc.? Structural Functionalism: Educational selection is a meritocratic process. It is the business of the schools to identify the most talented students, prepare them and give them the highest achievements, so they can go on to higher things. Should be the most talented, the most hardworking. Based on merit alone, nothing else. Conflict Theorists: It is through the educational system that high status parents pass on their privileges to their children. Sceptical about meritocracy, think that social backgrounds still matter. People with high status backgrounds will go onto the most prestigious universities. The educational levels that we get are very dependant on the type of career that you get. Super competitive because there are too many young people chasing too few jobs. New private high schools have been sprouting up downtown Toronto in office buildings where students can repeat a course that they want to get a higher mark. Specialize in the key areas. Very small classes. Charge a ton of money. Might be getting high marks just because their parents put out a ton of money. Are they literally buying higher grades for their kids? Socialization o In the mid-19 thcentury, Durkheim was concerned about the decline in religion as a moral force in society. First sociologist to actually think about the schools role in socialization. Living in a time of major social change. Rural based society to industrial based society. Democratic ideals were beginning to develop. Individualism was becoming more central. The church was losing its ability to constrain and control peoples behaviour. It was becoming ineffective. Was wondering what would fill the gap to morally educate people. He believed that a mass public educational system should be developed. o The school curriculum concerned with moral education. Durkheim thought school should teach culture, and morals to the students. Wondered if schools were capable of passing on worthy morals to students. Or generally agreed upon moral codes. Difficult to decide what schools should be transmitting in the classroom. Not difficult to find schools in conflict where people wonder if they are teaching what they should be. Examples: Sex Education o Liberal parents see it as something schools should be doing, and that it helps various drop out rates. o Some parents think that it is an attack against conventional morality, and promoting teenage promiscuity. Book Reading Lists o The Handmaids Tale Sexual content o To Kill a Mocking Bird Outdated racial relations in the USA o Huckleberry Finn Used the N word o Harry Potter Wizardry Religious Teaching o Either dont do enough religious teaching, or dont do enough of the right type of religious material. Where faith-based schools come from. Limits of socialization o Anti-academic Youth Culture Focused on partying, fast cars, sex, etc. Has the capacity to undermine the schools aims to educate them. o School Violence o Do schools carry out functions that they were not necessarily trying to? Babysitting agency. Frees up parents to work and not need a babysitter. Keeps kids out of trouble and off the streets. Crime prevention program. Dating agencies. How people can find a partner. Social Organization o Teachers often struggle to motivate reluctant students Students are expected to do assignments and listen to their teacher. Required to do things that they would rather not do. Teachers understand that they have to have control over their class, or else not very much learning will be done. Schools are like any other work organization. Except work places can motivate employees with money. Schools cant really do this. They arent allowed to pay them money for daily tasks. It has been suggested that in disadvantaged communities, that paying students for going to school and graduating would be a good thing. Can praise them for everything, appeal to their better nature, threaten them (but have to be careful), etc. But the most important, giving them good grades for good work and bad grades for bad work. o Doesnt work for everyone because the rewards arent usually immediate, they are in the future and intangible. o The limited motivational strategies available to them means that schools are often conflict prone organizations Only need a couple of students to disrupt the entire class. Spend all of their time dealing with the troublesome students rather than the ones who genuinely need help in their studies. Because of teachers preoccupation of maintaining order, they will introduce rules and regulations. Which turns students into passive recipients in the classroom. Structural Functionalism Two big ideas: o 1. Schooling is the most efficient means by which the most talented individuals assume the most important positions in society. This is both a moral and rational argument The school system is a meritocracy. It facilitates equality of opportunity (status based on achievement rather than ascription). Think that it is wrong for rich people to think that they can pass on their status to their children.
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