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THE FUNCTIONALIST PERSPECTIVE ON EDUCATION

Schools initially came into existence several thousand years ago to prepare a select few for a limited number of leadership and profes­sional positions. However, in the past century or so public schools have become the most important places where the members of a society are taught the three Rs (4). Viewed from the functionalist perspective, the schools make a number of vital contributions to the survival of modern societies.

Completing Socialization.Many preliterate and peasant societies lack schools. They so­cialize their offspring in the same "natural" way that parents teach their children to walk or talk. Consider the following account of the Copper Eskimos by anthropologist Diamond Jenness (1922:170, 219):

A girl. . . is encouraged to make dolls and to mend her own clothing, her mother teaching her how to cut out the skins. Both boys and girls learn to stalk game by accompanying their elders on hunting ex­cursions; their fathers make bows and arrows for them suited to their strength. One of their favourite pastimes is to carry out, in miniature, some of the duties they will have to perform when they grow up. Thus litlle girls often have tiny lamps in the corners of their huts over which they will cook some meat to share with their playmates. . The children naturally have many pastimes that imitate the actions of their elders. . . . Both boys and girls play at building snow houses. In summer, with only pebbles to work with, they simply lay out the ground plans, but in winter they borrow their par­ents' snow-knives and make complete houses on a miniature scale.

The content of culture among the Copper Eskimos is quite similar for everyone, and people acquire it mostly in an unconscious manner through daily living. Unlike the Cop­per Eskimos, adults in modern societies can­not afford to shape their children in their own image. Too often parents find themselves with obsolete (5) skills, trained for jobs that arc no longer needed. The knowledge and skills re­quired by contemporary living cannot be sat­isfied in a more or less automatic and "natural" way. Instead, a specialized educational agency is needed to transmit to young people the ways of thinking, feeling, and acting man­dated by a rapidly changing urban and tech­nologically based society.

 



Ö Task 6. Look through the following sentences and correct inaccuracies according to the passage read:

1. Already in ancient societies schools became the only institutions where people could be taught the three Rs.

2. Many preliterate and peasant societies had no need in holding schools because parents taught their children only to walk and talk.

3. The children from the Copper Eskimos’ families overlooked all of their parents activities but hunting.

4. Modern families fail to teach their offspring in a “natural” manner because of the lack of professional skills.

5. Eskimos’ children were not so eager to perform the same duties as their parents did.

 



Ö Task 7. Read part “Social Integration” and explain the importance of this function of education. Are there any classes or groups of people for whom this function has a particular significance? Why?

 



Social Integration.Functionalists say that the education system functions to inculcate (6) the dominant values of a society and shape a common national mind. Within the United States students learn what it means to be an American, become literate in the English lan­guage, gain a common heritage, and acquire mainstream standards and rules. In this fash­ion youngsters from diverse ethnic, religious, and racial backgrounds are immersed within the same Anglo-American culture and pre­pared for "responsible" citizenship. Historically, the nation's schools have played a prominent part in Americanizing the children of immigrants. Likewise, the schools are aiming at integrating the poor and disadvantaged within the image of dominant institutions. How well the educational institution performs these functions is a de­batable matter.

 



Ö Task 8. Read part “Screening and Selecting” and find in this extract the words or word combinations that mean the following:

- an official classification which gives a person, organization, or country certain rights or advantages;

- to test, examine people making sure they are suitable for a certain job, and are not likely to be dangerous or disloyal;

- a group of the most powerful, rich, or talented people in a society;

- to change a person’s class for the upper one through getting a higher status.

Reproduce the context where they are used.

 



Screening And Selecting.All societies ascribe some statuses to individuals independent of their unique qualities or abilities. Other statuses are achieved through choice and competition. No society ignores entirely individual differences or overlooks (7) individual accomplishment (8) and failure. Modern societies in particular must select certain of their youth for positions that require special talents. The educational insti­tution commonly performs this function, serv­ing as an agency for screening and selecting individuals for different types of jobs. By con­ferring degrees, diplomas, and credentials that are prerequisites (9) for many technical, and professional positions, it deter­mines which young people will have access to scarce positions and offices of power, privi­lege, and status. For many Americans, the schools function as "mobility escalators," allowing able, gifted individuals to climb the social ladder.

 



Ö Task 9. How do you understand the statement where schools are called “mobility escalators”? Can you think of any examples that would prove it is true for the society you live in.

 



Ö Task 10. Read part “Research and Development” and speak about the essence of this function in the modern society.

 



Research and Development. For the most part, schools are designed to produce people who fit into society, not people who set out to change it. However, schools, particularly universities, may not only transmit culture; they may add to the cultural heritage. Con­temporary American society places a good deal of emphasis on the development of new knowledge, especially in the physical and bi­ological sciences, medicine, and engineering. This emphasis on research has led universities to judge professors not primarily in terms of their com­petence as teachers, but as researchers. Pro­motions, salary increases, and other benefits are usually contingent on research and publi­cation, with "publish or perish" and "publish and prosper" being the governing tenets of university life. Critics contend that academic success is most likely to come to those who have learned to "neglect" their teaching duties to pursue research activities. But defenders say that even when students are not themselves involved in research projects, they benefit from the intellectual stimulation a research orientation brings to university life.

&(1) - to be greatly interested in smth; (2) – to see smth by looking carefully or to notice and understand smth by careful thought or study; (3) - if one thing entails another, it necessary involves it or causes it; (4) – such basic skills as reading, writing and arithmetic; (5) - smth no longer needed because of the existence of a new better thing; (6) – if you inculcate an idea in smbd, you teach it to them so that it becomes fixed in their mind; (7) - to ignore, not to notice smth or not to realize its importance; (8) - something remarkable that has been done or achieved; (9) - if one thing is a prerequisite for another, it must happen or exist before the second thing is possible;

 

J Task 11. Work in groups of 3-4 and discuss the relevance of these 4 functions of education, which one in your opinion plays the most important part; which one has become obsolete nowadays?

! Task 12.Try to change the following sentences in the way that the meaning is kept the same, but the word in bold type is replaced by its antonym:

- Society immediately notices person’s failureand uses it as a criterion for further selection.

- In many modern educational institutions teachers use all kinds of progressivemethods to help children integrate into the rapidly changing society.

- Examiners shouldpay special attentionnot only to the school-leaver’s personal characteristics and abilities but also to his/her interest in future profession.

- Any researcher should try not tooverlookdifferentaspects of such a many-sided issue as education.

! Task 13.Can you continue these associations lines? Work in pairs: compare your lines with those of your group-mates. How do they differ? Can you guess your group-mate’s stream of ideas?

a) learning, information, experience, …. , ….. , …… , ….

b) accomplishment, screening, education, … , … , …

c) motivation, credentials, climbing the social ladder, … , … , ….

d) research, society, promotion, …. , … , ….

Ö Task 14.Read the part“Conflict Perspective on Education”and while reading the suggested extract fill in the table given below. Compare your table with those of your group-mates; have you managed to fill in all the boxes? Are you ready to speak on the conflict perspective on education using the final variant of the table?

The aspect under consideration Its interpretation The issues introduced
1.Reproducing __ _______________ _______________      
2.     The Hidden Curriculum is _______________________ _______________________
3.   The educational system serves the interests of the dominant group by _______________________________  
4.Productive capital      
5.      

Date: 2016-03-03; view: 129


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