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Assess The Usefulness Of Sociological Explanations For Patterns Of Educational Achievement.

2657 words - 11 pages

It will be necessary in the course of this essay to view the different theoretical perspectives, and their explanations of varying levels of attainment across different sections of society.Schooling is the means by which we are formally educated and falls under the wider process of socialisation, or how we learn to acquire the ideas and values of the society that we live in."Education is... the means by which society prepares , within the children, the essential conditions of it's very existence..."(Durkheim, E.; "Education & Sociology"; 1968; p. 71)The functionalist perspective dominated the sociology of education in the early post-war decades, and saw the differentiation of pupils within the education system as necessary, to develop the wide range of skills required for different occupations, within industrial societies.According to this perspective, the education system provides the economy and employers with appropriate or suyitable candidates for specific tasks, through it's selection process ie. testing, examinations.It also proposes that through a standardised curriculum, schooling contributes to social cohesion, by transmitting the central values of society and common cultural heritage.The Education Reform Act 1944 had originally intended to offer "compulsary education for all", in place of the "class- based" education system that had existed prior to that. However Government research such as the "Early Leaving Report" (Department of Education; 1954) highlighted many pupils leaving school with little or no formal qualifications. This gave rise to the feeling that there was a great "wastage of talent", as many late developers were slipping through the sytem.The main concern was with the 11+ test, which determined the type off school pupils would attend; better able pupils received grammer school places, while others went to either technical or secondary modern schools.The process was supposed to select the most able pupils, regardless of their social class background, but empirical research revealed that a disproportionate number of pupils from middle-class backgrounds attained grammer school places, compared to that of working-class children of similar I.Q's.(Floud et al.; 1956)Further demographic studies, or "class chance" analysis looked at why discrepancies existed in the "educability" (difference between expected and actual educational achievements), and length of educational careers of pupils from different social classes.Ressearch by J.Floud and A.H. Halsey (1958) into the "social determinants of educability", began to look at the influence of both sociocultural (environmental) factors of home background, and the social assumptions of schools themselves.The effects of social class as a "causal" factor in educational performance of pupils, has been widely investigated, in attempting to explain why children from middle-class backgrounds do consistently better on average than working-class children.Fraser (1959) stated that there...

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