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How Public Policy, Demographics and Classic Sociological Concepts Have Shaped Our Understanding of Educational Attainment

  • Date Submitted: 02/13/2011 05:44 AM
  • Flesch-Kincaid Score: 37 
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Assignment Briefing: Assess how public policy, demographics and classic sociological concepts have shaped our understanding of educational attainment.
With supporting evidence, I will identify the major demographic factors which affect educational achievement.   I will discuss the relevance of self fulfilling prophecy, labelling theory, the hidden curriculum and counter school sub-cultures. I will also outline recent educational ideas such as the Academies Programme, the increase in university places and the idea of targeting disadvantaged pupils. I will also link the above ideas to theory, introducing relevant writers and theorists to discuss these ideas.
The functionalist view of education focuses on the positive contributions education makes to the maintenance of the social system. Emile Durkheim saw the major function of education as the transmission of society’s norms and values, taking the view that education perpetuates and reinforces cooperation and social solidarity by ‘fixing in the child from the beginning the essential similarities which collective life demands.’ Durkheim 1961. Durkheim believed that without these ‘essential similarities’ social life itself would be impossible, arguing that individuals must learn to cooperate and interact with other members of the school community in terms of a fixed set of rules, which in turn prepares them for interacting with members of society as a whole in terms of society’s rules; and believed only the school can provide context where these stills can be learned   [ (Haralambos & Holborn, 2008) ].
From a Functionalist perspective the education system is seen to benefit all members of society, the same standards are applied to all students regardless of sex, race, family background or class of origin; and schools operate on meritocratic principles - students are sorted by ability thereby ensuring the most talented students go on to get the most rewarding jobs   [ (Robert J. Brym & John Lie, 2007) ]....

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