A successful teaching professional requires more than strong subject knowledge. It is important to ensure awareness of the learners’ personal and social background to be able to support the learning experience. Furthermore there is requirement for the understanding of psychology and sociology in a “classroom”, There is also a requirement to have a depth of knowledge how education has developed over the last few decades. To understand the role of sociology in education this essay examines: what is education for? This discussion draws upon examples of research, with reference to Neo-Marxism, Interactionism and Feminism as sociological perspectives on education and training. An evaluation of each perspective in terms of strengths and weaknesses on education will follow. Finally briefly looking into how each perspective sees’ the role of education and what education does for society, economy and culture according to them. But what is education? Lauder et al (2006) states “Education is the influence exercised by adult generations on those not yet ready for social life” (pp 80). Not only does it teach the formal curriculum, it also develops morals, principles and behaviours, perhaps most importantly it prepares young people for society. For example the UK government according to their “white paper ” on The Importance of Teaching state “it is unacceptable for educational attainment to be affected by gender, disability, race, social class or any other factor unrelated to ability. Indeed, every child deserves a good education and every child should achieve high standards”. Not everyone believes in such equal attainment. Neo-Marxism for one; founded by Karl Marx (1818-1883) a revolutionary sociologist, believed in “every child” receiving an education although not necessarily achieving that high a level, Marx believed in the differentiation of middle and working class education thus preparing students for their respective roles in society. Marxism is a “macro level” perspective, which looks at the bigger picture, sociologist of education look at whole societies, their structure and change, carried out by fixed questionnaires and structured interviews. Gerwitz (2009) cites “put simply, according to Marx, capitalist economies require domination and exploitation of the working class” (pp 34). Working class are taught obedience and compliance through learning in a school akin to a factory, a distinct division of labour and structure. Whereas, according to Bowles and Gintis “the elite schooled children are prepared for managerial and professional roles through teacher student relationships, self-directed learning and skills in leadership.” Furthermore Allman (2001) supports this perspective by suggesting Marxism is the “most complete interpretation of the nature of capitalism and the greatest barriers to understanding is the misinterpretation of Marx’s work” (pp 375). This implies an importance is levied on education, being this is viewed as the initial stage of an individual’s social transformation. Allman continues by claiming that “some of our finest minds remain within the parameters of capitalisation and liberal democracy”, although no names were given. Moving forward, the concept of class is still as meaningful today as it was in the past. For example when reviewing the acceptance into elite institutions such as Oxford or Cambridge, perhaps this reinforces a Marxist system of education (With just 11.5% of its intake coming from working-class families, Oxford is bottom in this particular table. Cambridge is next, with 12.6%, and Bristol, another member of the Russell Group, comes in third at 14.2%, Guardian 28/09/10). McLaren and Jarmillo (2010) believe that Marxism should be connected with “everyday social relations”, they also go on to say how Marxism has a use in scientific analysis due to its “political philosophy containing ideas, insights and arguments, as well as developing diverse social practices” ( pp 252). Not all...
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