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Functions of Schooling

Functions of Schooling

Author: Paul Hannan

Distinguish between the major functions of schooling.

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Source: Intro Music by Mark Hannan; Public Domain All Images from; Public Domain

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[MUSIC PLAYING] Welcome to this episode of Sociology Studies of Society. Today's lesson is on the functions of schooling. As always, don't be afraid to pause, stop, rewind, of even fast forward to make sure you get the most out of this tutorial. So let's look at some of the functions of schooling. When we're looking at functions, remember that functions are part of the structural functional approach.

So we're trying to find out the reasons why things exist, because everything that exists in society is really a part of this machine that's working together to keep society running. So when we're looking at schooling and the functions, we're looking at by schooling exists-- why do we continue to have schooling in our society. One of the reasons why we have schooling is socialization. So socialization-- we are trying to train skills and attributes to individuals. We want to make sure that individuals will grow up into successful adults.

An example of socialization and a specific skill may be reading. It's a skill that is passed on by schools that you really need to how to be successful as an adult. Another reason we have schooling is social placement. Schooling is a place that society uses to help people find where they fit in the social hierarchies of society. An example of social placement would be that people of wealth, that kids of wealth, start to figure out and see that that influence, wealth, that they come out of actually puts them at the top of the social hierarchy pyramid in many ways.

The third reason why we have schooling is for cultural innovation. Schooling is a place where new ideas and new knowledge and new culture can come out and be accepted by society. An example of cultural innovation could be the Twitter movement and how that really came out of young people, and specifically young people in college. Another reason why we have schooling is social integration. Social integration is all about the idea that we as a society really share cultural norms and values, and we need to find a way to share that with everyone.

So individuals need to pick up what exactly it is to be an America-- what are the standards of how we should communicate in conversations. Well, schooling is a great place for kids to pick that up. An example of social integration could be that students from different backgrounds-- may be an immigrant or even a non-immigrant, but an immigrant is a good example there. They come to America, and then schooling starts to let them understand and make them understand what exactly we expect of people as Americans.

Now, there are also some latent functions of schooling. And again, latent functions are unintended or un-obvious reasons why schooling exists. And I have a few there. And different sociologists and different philosophers are going to maybe argue or say that different aspects of schooling are latent, but here are the five that I think are the most important to look at here. First one is child care. Child care in our current system is actually very expensive, and our educational system provides free child care for students from, what, 5 to 18.

And what that does is that frees up parents to be in the workforce as productive workers in society. Another latent function of schooling is cohorts. So as you go through schooling, you go through with this similar group of people and you find people with the same interests as you. And you're all the same age. And you find these friendships that last throughout life. And in fact, when people go to college, they often find their wife in college.

That's not really the reason why schooling exists, but it ends up being a reason why it's good for society to exist. Another latent function of schooling is the labor force. Now, what I mean by that is that if we didn't have schooling here and we had all those people-- you know, when they're little, we need child care. But as they get older, they don't need child care. So what happens if we had all the people that are currently in high school not in school, but instead looking for jobs?

We'd have a lot higher unemployment rate. By keeping people in school, one of the functions of schooling then is it's keeping people out of the labor force. It's making them wait to enter the labor force, and so there's less people in the labor force. It's delaying that until later in life. The last latent function I want to give to you guys today is capitalism. Schooling here in the United States of America specifically really passes on the ideals of capitalism to its students.

The underlying principle of basically all interaction in schooling is that capitalism is the right system, is the correct system, and it's the only system. Now, I don't just actually personally disagree with that. I'm a fan of capitalism, but it's interesting that schooling as a whole treats that as a given that things in society must be run on this merit-based, individualistic capitalist society. So today's takeaway message-- today we looked at the functions of schooling. First one was socialization, so schooling passes on skills and attributes needed for students.

We also looked at social placement, where schooling is used to help people find a place within the social hierarchy. We also looked at social integration as a function of schooling, and that's saying that it shapes people so they have shared cultural norms and values. And culture innovation, which is saying that schools are a place for new knowledge and culture. And then we looked at a couple latent functions of schooling, which are functions that are not obvious of schooling. Well, that's it for this lesson. Good work, and hopefully you'll be seeing me on your screen again soon. Peace.

Terms to Know
Cultural Innovation Function of Schooling

A function of schooling that creates new ideas and technologies that have ramifications for society and culture.

Latent Functions of Schooling

Latent functions of schooling are those things that are not immediately recognized like schooling providing childcare, and schooling keeping young people out of the workplace as competitors.

Social Integration Function of Schooling

A function of schooling that shapes all manner of diverse pupils so that they come to share similar cultural norms and values.

Social Placement Function of Schooling

A function of schooling that sorts individuals such that they go on to fill various positions in the division of labor as adults.

Socialization Function of Schooling

A function of schooling that passes on the skills and attributes that students will need in order to grow into successful, functional adults in society.