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Emile Durkheim's Theories on Education and Morality - Essay Example

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Emile Durkheim's Theories on Education and Morality

But as America became more populated and as problems became more social, the focus on education had shifted to the human being in relation to society. The people realized that the human being was affected by its environment and the role of education is to transmit present societal traditions and customs to the students by using teachers as social agents. Because of Durkheim's influence, the American society began to value individual freedom and self-determination that depicted the product of Protestant ethic and the impact of psychology on educational theory.
The present society now corresponds to Durkheim's theory of education. Focusing on his educational beliefs and view points, this essay aims to acquire the significance of his theoires on the past and present day society.
According to Filloux, Durkheim emphasized the general needs of the individual in order to recognize the function of a social phenomenon (304). He asserted that every society has a system of education that is inflicted on individuals and has a concept of a "human ideal"-physically, intellectually and morally. He viewed it as a "methodical socialization" that ensures the "conditions of existence" of every individual in a society.
For Durkheim, discipline is a factor of education and a means of averting culpable conduct (43). He viewed morality as a discipline that promotes regularity in people's actions and offers them "determinate goals" that also hinders their horizons (47). There are three elements of morality that determine the form and content of the purposes that educational sociology assigns to education at school: 1) teaching a sense of discipline, 2) group attachment, and 3) autonomy of will (308). In order to be called a moral person, Durkheim stated that the individual has to abide by a norm (23) and "act in terms of the collective interest" (xi). Thus, the function of morality is "to determine conduct, to fix it, and to eliminate the element of individual arbitrariness" (27).
In the school institution, moral standards are imposed by the teacher to the pupils though they are given the freedom to learn in their own will. (Filloux 309). For Durkheim, the spirit of independence exists if there is intelligence or understanding and moral orders in certain incidents in life. Durkheim also discussed the school environment in his theory (310). He believed that the school environment promotes the habit of life in a school classroom form. He also stated that in ideal schools, it is not important to produce scientists among his pupils but fully rational beings. (311).

Research Discussion

Durkheim's structure-function analysis focuses on social facts (Filloux 303). He noted that in order to understand a fact, the causes and purposes must primarily be recognized. His analysis was original for he approached this from two similar viewpoints. One was that the society, made up of its organic components has a systematic entity responding to the societal needs. The other view was that "the social system lends itself to analysis in terms of ...Show more


Emile Durkheim was one of the most influential American theorists in the history of sociology (Abbott 235). He had given attention to the role of education in society and developed a theory that justifies that role. People were unaware of his educational writings which came out late but evidently, his experience in teaching influenced his theories on sociology.
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