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Formal vs Informal Education

Formal: Education in recognised and accredited schools.Highly-institutionalised�Informal: How we learn for ourselves outside of institutions.Less organised/controlled


How does education help prepare people for the wider world (in two ways)

Training in specific routines for jobs. (Foucault attacks this.)Learning values and norms of society – the hidden curriculum, and basic social interaction outside family�



Social rank should depend on your ability, not on your birth or wealth.By ensuring educational opportunities are open to all, those with greatest talent will have chance to rise to top�-Equality of Opportunity emphasized, everyone gets same chance to succeed, in contrast with equality of outcome, in which everyone gets the same reward regardless of input



Addition of qualification requirement to take a job, e.g. degree, medical school.Growing numbers of jobs have such requirements – including doctor, truck driver, acupuncturist�.


Who argues that credentials for jobs are not necessary for most of them? Why?

Frank ParkinEver more qualifications needed for jobs that previously had no such requirement�


Who adds these needless qualifications to requirements for jobs?

Interest groups band together to add these requirements for jobs, in order to minimise the number of people who can do them, and reduce competition for jobs�.


Research Univesrity

Higher educational institution focused on production of original research; professors evaluated by publication & citation.Often causes decline in importance of teaching�.


Who examined the emergence of the modern research university after WWII, and in what book?

Christopher Jenks & David Riesman, in Academic Revolution.


Summarize the work of Jenks & Riesman in Academic Revolution. How are universities now viewed?

Colleges & universities amalgamated into single cohesive system of national education, placed in hierarchies:Focus on producing research and PhD programs; colleges that do not do so are labelled as subpar.Professors assessed by research in peer-reviewed journals; teaching less important, and only an appendage to research. Leads to large classes taught by adjunct professors.Universities viewed as producers of knowledge: aim to generate as much research as possible, regardless of teaching�. (in contrast with PROVIDERS of knowledge)


Liberal Education

Schooling that aims to teach ‘whole person’: focused on ability to read, write, argue.Not just ‘learning by rote’�.


Credential Inflation

it’s increasingly difficult to get a higher-status job without a university degree (however ‘useful’)�.


What are the consequences of a focus on research excellence and credential inflation for universities?

Consequently, universities have larger and larger classes of students, increasingly taught by lower-ranked academics & contract instructors:Tendency for senior academics to do less teaching; classes taught by non-tenure-track adjuncts.Funding focuses on high-reward areas like medicine, science, business, and less on all-round education�.



Small groups held together by self-defined set of norms and taboos.Often deliberately seek to exclude others or to set strict conditions of membership�-small groups in which students engage in exclusionary practices to limit membership, and follow certain strict rules.�


Who explored rules governing relations between teenagers in The Adolescent Society? What sociological approach did he take?

James Coleman.-Symbolic interactionist approach explains how adolescent norms are created and enforced�


How did he describe the different roles that students played? What happened when they moved between groups?

Sporty, good-looking teens were favoured; the ‘nerd’ was rejected and ostracised. Students attempt to be popular: Coleman observed role conflict as they moved between groups�.


How does Coleman argue that adolescent behavior constitutes a specific SUBCULTURE, distinct from mainstream life?

Whilst mainstream culture values e.g. good looks, it also requires self-discipline, learning, work. High school subculture ignores many of these: focuses only on immediate signs of success�.


What does Coleman think about how schools prepare students for adult life?

Coleman suggests that schools are bad at preparing students for adult life: whatever the formal system of education does, the subculture in which they live causes them to devalue education�.


What do some sociologists believe adolescent subculture reflects in adult life?

reflects same problems of conflict, inappropriate values etc as adult life�


How can a microsociological approach help us understand student success?

can help us understand why some students succeed and some don’t:Do the less successful hold to cultural values that prioritise looks over learning? Why this rejection of education?