Skeletons don’t live in the closet; they live in your elementary school files.
Emile Durkheim defined education as an action carried out by the older generation in relation to those who are not yet ready for social life, while its main tasks are: to awaken and develop in the child the physical, intellectual and moral qualities that will be needed for himself, so and society as a whole. Actions to develop these qualities (socialization of a new generation) occur in all types of societies, but they acquire specific forms in each individual case depending on the characteristics of social groups and institutions involved in this process, which implies consideration of education as specialized social action.
According to Gracey, in the article, “Kindergarten as Academic Boot Camp,” primary education is not aimed at providing children with factual information nor to contribute to the development of their creativity, but to educate passive, non-problematic conformists who can easily “integrate” into the existing social order. This method of thinking, or thought training continues throughout the first 12 years of education. Gracey discusses classroom issues and schedules that essentially prepare each student to obey and conform to rules and ways that are, for the most part, opposite of natural, instinctual human behavior. This brings me to today’s class discussion on the purpose of college. After all, it is essentially what kindergarteners are being prepared for if they choose to continue onto higher education.
Originally, as discussed, college was not constructed for the average person across society. Instead, it was create specifically for the elite, the ones who already had money, and were utilizing education as a form of pastime. The Latin root for both school and leisure is identical. Plainly, higher education was created for the elite to lead more interesting and well-rounded lives. Society has grown far from the original purpose, as it is now relying upon as a necessity to function beyond mere survival in our society. The structural functionalists of Sociology are interested in the functions of education and will state that education has several purposes for a thriving society.
First, in order of the manifest functions, it brings a variety of social classes, races and religions together as public schools are designed for social integration. Secondly, in almost an opposition to the first function, education creates social stratification. This defines clear lines and boundaries between where one place should be in the world. It defines hierarchy by having labels the segregate us into levels of abilities and opens or closes doors of opportunities depending solely on how far one has gone on the educational ladder. Therefore, the farther you climb, the more likely you are t have nicer, bigger, better things.
The main difference in the set up of college vs. university, is that one is strictly a transmitter of knowledge where the other is a reached base institution, Universities ar disguised as learning opportunities when in reality, they are built more for the governments and corporations funding them, in order to produce specified information through lifetimes of research. The latent functions for society include a decrease in unemployment, and for children in grades K-12, it provides parents free childcare while they work all day.
Reasons of education for the social conflict theorist, which view all things from equality interests, are that education benefits capitalism in the way that educated people become better and more productive workers, therefore contributing the economy of society. There are also two other main reasons, which tie into Graceys boot camp article in that these reasons begin clearly and purposfully in Kindergarten. There is the hidden curriculum, in which children are taught, without choice or knowledge of opposing views, patriotism and loyalty to country i.e.: government, and the obeying of authority. Kindergarten and elementary school is where we first learn to conform to rules and power of authority that later become necessary to function as a civilian in society. We learn from the beginning so that by the time we get to college and the work force, conforming and obeying feel natural to us. There is also the tracking system throughout an education path in which we start being separated, labeled and put into varying levels of class and intelligence that will create our foundation of where our place is in society. The children in the wealthier groups tend to go further in life based off of the attention they begin receiving from the moment they step into a classroom as a child. This entire system from start to finish automatically sets up societes dynamics and balance for the long run.
This all makes the book, “Everything I Need to Know, I Learned in Kindergarten” take on a much deeper meaning than just its fun and lighthearted learning experiences.