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There seems to be a direct link to what goes on in schools and what takes place at work. The functionalist approach to education and economy is that through socialisation education helps maintain society by introducing young people into values and beliefs such as achievement. They argue that education teaches what is needed within the world of work like numeracy and literacy skills or specific skills for particular jobs. The education system allocates people to the most appropriate jobs, which suits their abilities using examination results.
Through the eyes of the functionalists this is seen to be fair because there is an equal opportunity for everyone, everyone has the chance to succeed in society on the basis of their ability. If they work hard and try hard at school then they will succeed and climb the social ladder obtaining a higher social status. They see education as turning pupils into model citizens that the most able pupils will succeed and obtain the most important jobs. Durkheim stated that education performs the function of making individuals feel they are members of a social group.
This can be done through lessons such as history. He believes that school teaches pupils how to co-operate and work with others. The subjects that are taught in schools are related to skills that are required for work. The education system sifts and sorts the people according to their ability and that those who want to achieve can do so despite social class or background. Parsons thinks that the school is the first place where they are taught universal values and rules. School helps introduce a consensus; this is where everyone agrees on the same basic values.
Schools challenge pupil’s abilities and their talents so that they can be issued into specific jobs. Davis and Moore explained that some people have greater talents than others and to ensure that society functions efficiently the most able individuals are allocated the most efficient jobs. The education system is responsible for this, targeting the people who are most able then training them for important jobs. However, some people would argue that this is far too optimistic. This idea of meritocracy is untrue does not exists. There are certain barriers that get in the way the main one being social class.
An example of this is careers such as medicine and law where certain firms will not accept you if you have been to a university that was previously a polytechnic college. There is nothing wrong with these universities but certain people and groups see them as lower class and therefore less likely to employ them. This is a barrier that gets in the way. There is a lack of evidence that schools teach work specific skills, an example of this is how often does a job require you to know quotes from Shakespeare, some subjects have a limited usefulness to the world of work.
The principal of having a general consensus in school is not always the case; different social groups have different sets of values. Marxists disagree with this approach stating that its main function is to maintain, legitimate and reproduce, generation after generation of inequalities transmitted through common values and beliefs. Failure and inequality is encouraged within working class people, this is taught in schools. What goes on in school is related to the world of work, the pupils are like the workers and the teachers are like the bosses.
Marxists explanation of education is that it does entirely depend on intellectual ability only the pupils who conform will rise above the rest. Schools reproduce the appropriate work force with the correct attitudes for factory work. They argue that it turns working class kids into conformist’s workers. Marxists argue that a hidden curriculum lies within the education system that filters out working class children into working class jobs it is a passive process that gets them used to this idea of inequality and hierarchy.
It makes them accept it and not challenge it this is the correspondence principal. Bowles and Gintis argue that what goes on in schools is directly related to the world of work. The organisation of school to that of work is very identical, separate school lessons mirroring separate work place tasks. The examination results and payment are the enjoyment of working and learning. Educational success and promotion at work is based on work. Again what was just said isn’t always the case. Bowles and Gintis never actual got any research evidence to support their claims.
Most jobs now demand people with flair, ambition and people with charisma not mindless idiots as Marxist stated. Not all schools respond in exactly the same way and not all pupils respond in exactly the same way as Bowles and Gintis suggested. Not all children are passive products of the education system it might motivate some children with the thought of ending up in a factory. Paul Willis conducted his survey in 1977 and provides internationalist approach to understand the meanings pupils. Willis identifies pro-school and anti-school subcultures.
The anti school subcultures where nicked named “the lads” ands the pro-school subcultures were called the earoles. Willis was a neo-Marxist who stated that “the lads” developed strategies to cope with the boredom of school and basic routine that they would eventually end up in at work. The lads chose to and accepted themselves as failures and didn’t see the point in trying so just gave up. It was not passive as Marxists first thought. Even this type of attitude created the right workforce, they were uncritical and just got on with it. Paul Willis focuses on actual working at the school.
One criticism of Paul Willis work is that either the student rebelled against the system or they conformed they were never really in between and this didn’t really make much sense. It was unrealistic not many people were 100% in a category they were in between and this didn’t show up in Willis results. Vocational Education was introduced because when students left school and went to work they didn’t really possess the appropriate skills for work or the correct attitude. Vocational education changed this and improved their working attitudes with ideas such as work experience.
As part of Curriculum 2000 key skills were introduced, this was asked for by a lot of employers and it gave students a basis insight into how to use a computer. A number of other schemes were introduced for those post 16 student s who didn’t want to stay on at school, the government would pay half their wages and the company that employed them would pay the other half. This was great for the company because they were getting labour for half the price and once they had got to 19 they would sack them and employ another 16 year old.
The schemes led to low paid and low skilled part time employment. The main aim for the government to set this scheme up was so that when it came to Election Day it meant that the number of people who where unemployed was low. There was first an assumption that unemployment was caused by a lack of skills amongst young people. In actual fact it could be to do with lack of jobs. Cohen stated that this attitude and discipline training made the post 16 people ready to except low paid jobs.
In conclusion there is no one simple explanation about the relationship between school and economy. All of the information featured is theories and beliefs based on different perspectives. Up to a certain point all of the theories are true and probable in certain situation. No one can speak for the whole of society what happens in one group might be completely different to another. I would however be incline to put my trust in to a lot of what Paul Willis says partly because of the way he carried out his study, it was very in-depth.