Starting Points Chapter 12 Notes
* Learn about the role school play in communities
* Come to understand the special functions of higher education
* Identify the various inequalities perpetuated by educational institutions
* Analyse how abuse or violence may take place on school grounds
* Appreciate the ability of education to foster a wholesome society
* In the past, education was privilege, reserved for the wealthy
> but today, it is the right of every child
* Education provide students with the knowledge and credentials they need to gain and
keep paid employment
> credentialism, the rising need for ever more sophisticated educational qualifications is an
increasingly prominent trend in today’s labour markets.
> Highschool is not enough
* Education delivers societal values
* In the study of education, some researchers stress the important of socio-economic
inequality while others stress the importance of values and aspirations * Because of limited resources, educational institutions are often obliged to battle one
another for resources.
Ways of looking at…. Education
* Functionalists focus on the manifest and latent functions of education in out society, and
the degree to which schools as currently formed full fill these functions.
> manifest functions at the secondly level are designed to give all students basic skills in
literacy and numeracy
> post secondly level, they are designed to give some students a liberal arts training and
other students an occupational training that prepared them for the work world.
> liberal arts curriculum supposedly prepares people to be informed citizens
* functionalists focus on the human capital functions of education
> improving the abilities of workers to bring significant value to their jobs and workplaces
through their knowledge and skills.
* In recent decades, the main sociological work on education has been by critical theorists
and symbolic interactionists.
> critical theorists have often focused on the latent functions of education.
* According to this 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
* Symbolic interactionists show schools also teach students how to dress and behave
Classic studies… The Academic Revolution * One of the first sociological accounts of this change was written half a century ago by
Christopher Jencks and David Riesman.
> Their book The Academic Revolution (1968) looks at the historical ties between schools
and societies, and examines the evolving role of higher education in modern, post industrial
> to escape the shame of such labels, all universities have been struggling to increase their
research, decrease their undergraduate teaching, and raise their international profile.
* Because of this system, professors gained greater visibility and importance.
* Jencks and Riesman claim that professors shape the academic revolution by promoting
meritocracy and favouring a national or even international orientation in the admission
* Reseach Universities have played an important role in the upward mobility of immigrants
and minorities and their children in US and Canada
* Social importance of research universities has been examined in a new book by
sociologist Jonathan Cole, The Great American University: It rise to Preeminence, Its
Indispensable National Role, Why It must be Protected (2009)
> Cole stresses the social values that underline the work of a research university and the
social and economic structures such as funding institutions
> Research Universities have been an important source of scientific research and
* Canadian university system is different from the US
* ‘ Higher Education? How colleges are wasting out money and failing our kids - and what
we can do about it “ by Andrew Hacker
> criticises the backbreaking tuition fees at top universities and the injustice of the labour
system. > Unnecessary large graduate programmes continue to pump out new Ph.Ds who can not
get suitable jobs
> Students get an education they don’t need and cannot use, while putting themselves in
debt for the next 10 years.
* Jencks and Riesman received its share of criticisms.
> some people felt personally attacked by their criticism of “ marginal colleges”
* However, many found Jencks and Riesman’s study to be ‘genuinely revealing and
persuasive (Bressler, 1968)
> Their careful secondly analysis of various data on college and university attendance was
seen as especially praiseworthy ( Bidwell, 1969)
* Schools have played an important part in the lives of disadvantaged people, often
levelling the playing field.
> Women and racial minorities are doing much better educationally than in the past.
* Women who complete the same doctoral programs as men are likely to have careers that
are less varied, shorter and less successful. ( Wall, 2008)
* Children from poorer socio-economic backgrounds are generally less likely to gain a
> the environment tend to be characterised by people of similar socio-economic status.
> these people attend schools that are often not as well supplied or funded as schools in
* To a small degree, the failure to continue on to post secondary education reflects a
cultural failure > the failure of our culture to support and encourage high education aspirations, especially
among poor and rural native-born people
Classic Studies… The Adolescent society
* In many ways schools have come to replace families as places where young people learn
about the world
> The first sociologist to look at this shift from families to schools, and the effects of this
shift was James S Coleman, in his book The Adolescent Society (1966)
> US high school students, handsome, cute people are popular, and view nerd as selfish
as well as unappealing.
* In this book Coleman argues that the teenaged subculture observable in high schools, is
largely separate from the adult world.
> It has distinct set of values and its own social system of power and prestige
> Thus, Coleman says, the adolescent culture not only makes adolescents dependent on a
cliquish, narrow minded high school subculture - it also cuts them off from most parts of
adults world, not ready for adult world.
* Some people criticise Coleman’a argument by saying there is a distinct adolescent
> many parents are just as shallow was their children.
* Clique formation - a normal part of children’s development and a characteristic feature of
school life - separated people and sets them against one another
Ability grouping or streaming * some schools minimise or control the variation between students by segregating different
kinds of students.
> One common type is ability grouping
1, It ensures the best students receive the most challenging education
2, the less gifted students are spared the humiliation of struggling with materials they
cannot master and competing against students they cannot match
* 3 types of ability grouping
1, ‘ ability grouping’ - common in elementary classrooms
2, ‘setting’ - different classes, in high schools
3, ‘tracking’ or ‘streaming’
* On the other hand, some researchers claim that