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Chapter 14

Chapter 14 - Education.docx

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University of Waterloo
SOC 101
Barry Mc Clinchey

Chapter 14: Education Sociology: a Canadian Perspective The Changing Face of Education Education is the formal learning that takes place in institutions that provide specific courses, learning activities, or credentials in an organized way. Informal learning occurs when people undertake specific activities to learn about distinct phenomena or processes. Formal and informal education is part of socialization which refers to all direct/indirect learning related to a human’s ability to understand rules and expectations of the social world. Dimensions of Educational Growth th There is an increase in educational attainment of Canadians since the mid-20 century, (visuals on p. 330). Growing emphasis on the importance of formal education has been matched by 3 factors:  Expansion of educational opportunities and requirements  Increasing levels of educational attainment among Canadians  Recent emphasis on the selection of highly educated immigrants th th In the late 19 to mid-20 centuries, few occupations required educational credentials. Early advocates of public schooling had to convince the public of the merits of the educational system. When credentials became more important for jobs later on, people became more likely to extend their schooling into and beyond high school. The baby boom (children after World War II) resulted into a high level of enrolment in Canadian schools. Education in the Learning Society Terms such as information society, learning society, and lifelong learning signifies the central place that education holds in the new economy or knowledge-based economy. The new economy has gained prominence as a result of rapidly developing information technology and scientific advancements which is changing the business and workplace as well as social life. Learning is central for a variety of purposes:  Training qualified personnel  Researching for continuing innovation  Developing, testing, and marketing new products and services  Processing the vast quantities of new information being created  Providing people with the capacity to employ new technologies at work and at home People are expected to do more than learn but to develop different way of learning and transferring knowledge. Globalization and competitiveness across national settings created the emphasis on credentials and lifelong learning. Level of formal education in a country indicates its modernization and development status – without it, there are higher rates of poverty, unemployment, crime, serious illness, etc. Despite the emphasis on learning, many people face challenges to gaining educational access, achievement and success. (Educational disparities in a global scale can be found on pp. 332-333) Alternative Accounts of Educational Growth and Development There is no uniform way of understanding education. Sociological theories of education are concerned with describing and explaining education systems, processes, and change. Structural functionalism  Education gains importance in modern societies as an institution that provides participants with understanding, capabilities, and selection criteria necessary to enable them to fit into prescribed social and economic roles  Educational institutions has started to take on many functions previously managed by families, communities, and religious organizations to ensure that successive generations are able to make a transition from early childhood and family life and finally into the labour force  Talcott Parsons identified school’s 2 functions as 1. Selection – allocating individuals with appropriate skills and talents into necessary jobs and social positions) 2. Socialization – providing people with knowledge required for adult roles and specific jobs  Schools reinforce norms of independence, achievement, universalism, and specificity o Teachers are expected to convey knowledge and opportunities to practice these norms as well as modelling them  Rationalises educational expansion by connecting it to the growing complexity of the occupational structure while highlighting its increasing importance to citizenship in industrialized societies o Technical functionalism – analysis linking educational growth to increasing technical sophistication of jobs and knowledge production  Assumes a social agreement regarding what should be taught in schools and how educational institutions should be organized o Does not question the legitimacy of educational credentials to determine entry into specified labour market positions or its fairness of the operation o portray deviation on their ideals as abnormalities or temporary problems that does not warrant challenges to the education system as a whole o presents education as a meritocratic ideal that enables people to gain opportunities for social/economic success  human capital theory emphasizes education’s role as a critical tool for the development of human capacities to create and apply new knowledge  Cannot account for the present of persistent inequalities in educational opportunities, outcomes, and benefits – ignores the initial advantage that is likely to contribute to educational and economic success o Limits consideration of differences in educational values, content, and practices, among other factors Symbolic Interactionism and Microsociology  Questions how schooling contributes to the development of personality and identity, how students/teachers shape the learning process, etc.  Schools are a point of interaction  Schooling is a place of negotiations among teachers, students, and parents expressed as how pupils select the subjects they take, the role of humour in the classroom/staff room, and teacher reports on student progress  Teacher’s backgrounds influence their idea of the ideal pupil, affecting how they treat and assess students  Societies and institutions are fluid entities – patterns are the result of recurrent daily activity and of people’s capacities to shape, interpret, and reproduce, etc. social arrangements through their social relations  Ethnomethodology is a variant of interpretive sociology and examines the methods that people draw onto construct a sense of reality and continuity in everyday life  Focuses on the details of ongoing social activity can restrict their ability to account for social structures and historical processes o Classroom dynamics cannot be understood without reference to educational policy, power structures, social change, and persistent social inequalities that influence educational processes/outcomes Conflict Theory  Samuel Bowles and Herbert Gintis o emphasize schools’ role as mechanisms that select and prepare people for different positions in labour markets and life o see labour market conditioned by capitalist interests, not be general consensus regarding social values and needs o claims that all students have a fair chance to succeed cannot be fulfilled  Emphasizes the persistent barriers to opportunity and advancement created by domination and subordination  Disagrees with the
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