Both functionalists and conflict theorists view education differently.
Functionalists stress the importance of education in transmitting culture, maintaining social control, promoting social and political integration and bringing about or stimulating social change and modernization. This approach dominated the analysis of education in the early post-war decades. Critics from the New Right movement have focused on the charge that schools and colleges fail to prepare people for jobs.
In simple terms, education is the skill of reading, writing and calculating.
Education at primary level is the learning of the ‘three Rs’, i.e., reading, writing, and arithmetic, at secondary level of character building, at higher secondary level is understanding society, and at college/university level is skill training for the jobs. They do attempt to control and regulate students’ behaviour, reflecting the dominant social values of society.
Young child learned knowledge and skills, what they needed to know about the day-to-day life and trade of their parents informally by imitating the older members of society.
In these societies, the training of new members about the adult roles was accomplished informally, but in more complex societies of industrial type required great and diverse formal systematic training for which societal educational institutions of modern types slowly developed, along with the specialized role of teacher.
Yet education has also consistently been seen as a means of equalization. Many studies (e.g., Coleman’s Equality of Educational Opportunity, 1966) have been done to answer this question.
Its results are clear: ‘education tends to express and reaffirm existing inequalities for more than it acts to change them’ (cited in Giddens, 1997).
Education is basically a social institution which has corresponding links with other social institutions—political, economic, family, and religious—of society.
Not only this, education and other social institutions influence each other also. No educational system can operate without being influenced by the norms and values of society.