Sociology | Education and Society
S312 | 20295 | Everitt


In both the United States and abroad, education has been the aspect of
society with the highest expectations.  Education has been considered
the remedy to almost any social problem one can imagine, such as:
preparing people for employment, creating good national citizens,
eliminating racial discrimination, alleviating poverty, instilling
good moral character, preventing the spread of disease, strengthening
local communities, minimizing teenage pregnancy, integrating diverse
cultures, adapting to technological change, developing third-world
countries, and the list could continue.  Simultaneously, education has
been the aspect of society that has drawn an enormous amount of
criticism, such as: teachers are under-qualified, standardized testing
is horribly biased, schools fail to teach strong moral values,
students are apathetic and often dangerous, black/white achievement
gaps persist, schools fail to promote cultural diversity, illiterate
students are simply promoted through the grades, getting bachelor=s
and graduate degrees does not guarantee jobs, grade inflation is
rampant, and this list could also continue.  Given that so much is at
stake in education, and that there are so many apparent failures in
education, the question must be asked: Why do we entrust so much to a
social institution which we do not believe delivers on its promises?
We will spend our semester struggling with this question while seeking
answers from sociologists who have asked it, in various ways, before.
Our chief goal for the course is to understand how sociology offers a
unique perspective on the problems and promises of education.
Sociologists focus on the social processes that affect both the means
and ends of education.  Therefore, we will pay particular attention to
the social processes and consequences of education for the multitudes
of people engaged in it.  Since our focus is education, I have divided
the course into 3 units that I feel capture the most important
sociological phenomena in education in terms that we may all remember
from our own schooling:
"Class time" - Functions of Schooling, Status Attainment, and
Schooling Organization
"Recess" - Student Cultures, Social Capital, and Race/Gender in Schooling
"Lunch" - School Funding, Cultural Reproduction, and Educational
Expansion

We will explore these three units in the sociology of education to
increase your understanding of social processes and outcomes of
education.  Through class discussions and writing-intensive exams, we
will also work to improve your overall communication and analytical
skills as students.