Social Functions of Education
Modern education systems perpetuate social inequality. They do so by instilling the linear value that in order to be considered successful in life you need to get good grades in the standardized school system. Without good grades, your future options will be limited. Yet, standardized schooling systems do not take student’s individual circumstances, learning abilities or preferences into account, which excludes them from the system and reinforced social inequality by making these students feel like a failure. Since society defines success as excelling in school and obtaining a respectable degree, the school system promotes further education (in particular, college) as the only way to ensure a good future. Colleges are often affected by capitalist societies and provide curriculums that meet the current needs of the businesses and industries around them. A university education is very expensive, which also means it is inaccessible for many families who are not privileged enough to afford tuition costs. Acceptance policies are also very competitive, meaning that students without the resources to participate in extra-curricular activities find it harder to be accepted.
A close friend in high school was interested in the arts, but struggled with mathematics and science. While she obtained severely low grades and spent many hours stressed out from trying to understand her calculus and chemistry lessons, she excelled in fine arts and literature. She volunteered and performed with the school’s drama club, was a regular member of the book club, and also had her artwork put on display in the school. Yet due to struggles with the other more prestigious subjects, her grade average was low. School counselors often warned her that she would not be able to enter university with the grades she obtained, and teachers of math and sciences treated her like a hopeless case, ultimately affecting her self-esteem. Rather than applaud her exceptional artistic and creative talents, the school continually made her feel bad about the subjects she was not excelling in. By not respecting her individual talents and instead valuing only the capitalistic values of education and telling her what she should be good at, she was made to feel like a “bad student”. By undermining the value of her art the school reinforced social inequality by indirectly telling her that because of her inability to comprehend complex mathematics, she would never contribute anything of worth to society.
College institutions perpetuate the same mentality. A friend who moved to another state to study for a bachelor degree in the field of humanities recalled how shocked he was when he approached his campus during frosh week. While the university looked modern and elegant in its promotional brochures, the humanities departments were housed in much smaller decrepit buildings needing many repairs. All the money that the university invested into itself went into building bigger and better facilities for the business school and the engineering departments. On campus, the university spent a lot more time promoting the needs of those departments that were designed to fill …