Functionalist believe that the main function of education is to maintain a value consensus in society. The term value consensus means that the majority of society agree. For example in the United Kingdom people believe going to school and getting a education is a norm: this is a value consensus.
The education system has many purposes such as secondary socialisation of children and allocation of roles, due to the meritocratic that lays within it. Different theorists believe in different functions of the education system, some think it as promoting value consensus and some see otherwise.
Functionalists believe that education transmits society’s norms and values and therefore promotes value consensus, with the educational and economic system working hand in hand to develop the skills required for the world of work. Functionalists believe that education within schools, and the existence of the hidden curriculum, is ...view middle of the document...
Young people are required to act int rems of those values in the classroom. And as a result, they are prepared for adult roles.
Emile Durkheim, agreed with the functionalist of that education transmits the norms and values of society. He believed that for society to operate effectively they have to develop a sense of belonging to something. According to Durkheim one of the main functions of education is to develop the similarities that social solidarity is based upon, this then binds society together. Durkheim, believe that teaching about history in schools creates a link between the individual and society. This link allows the individual to feel 'part' of the society and therefore is more likely to support this. For example, in the U.S children are taught about the founding fathers and give the pledge of allegiance daily. With a shared history, people feel part of a wider social group. This creates social solidarity because of the increased number of shared 'norms and values’.
However Bowles and Gintis (1976) argue that education serves to reproduce directly the capitalist relations of production - the hierarchy of workers from the boss down. Education ensures that workers will unquestioningly adapt to the needs of the system. Bowles and Ginits correspondence theory suggests that what go on in school corresponds directly to the world of work. For example teachers are like bosses, and pupils are the workers who work for the rewards and the higher up the system the individual progresses, however the more personal freedom they have to control their own educational or working experience, and the more responsibility they have for the outcomes.
Also Bowels and Gintis point out that success is not entirely related to intellectual ability e.g. the pupils who fit in and conform will do better then whose whom express attitudes or display behaviour which challenges the system.
In conclusion we can see that the main function of education is to not to maintain value consensus but that it is to teach the norms and values that enables people to get a job however tis is not equal for everyone as the education system does not have equal opportunity for everyone due to a variety of reasons.