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Symbolic Interactionism Theory in Relationship between Teachers and Students

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Functionalists suggest that the main function of higher education teachers is to provide better occupational opportunities for unemployed students in the long-run. Upon analyzing the functionalist theory of education, it is the students who function as the receiver of the transferred knowledge, skills and cultural values from the school teachers. However, this theory is not applicable when it comes to analyzing the relationship between teachers and students in higher education. Functionalists strongly suggest that the main function of higher education teachers is to provide better occupational opportunities for unemployed students in the long-run.

Upon analyzing the functionalist theory of education, it is the students who function as the receiver of the transferred knowledge, skills and cultural values from the school teachers. However, this theory is not applicable when it comes to analyzing the relationship between teachers and students in higher education. Conflict theory view education as something that “ reflects other inequalities within a given society” (Andersen & Taylor, 2011, p. 348). Because of the presence of racial, class and gender discrimination, not all students are able to receive equal rights to education.

Furthermore, conflict perspective in higher education also suggests that the process of tracking down teachers’ ability to deliver good quality teaching based on the prescribed school curriculum also contributes to the development of conflict relationship among the teachers (Kendall, 2010, p. 417). With this in mind, teachers who feel less important may end up having more emotional and psychological issues when building a relationship with the students. In general, conflict theorists are criticizing functionalist theorists for having a strong idealization of what an educational institution should be like within a given society (Edles & Appelrouth, 2011, p.

21). Conflict theory in higher education strongly suggests the idea that teachers in educational institutions are facing conflicts related to power struggling among the professionals within the hierarchical educational institutions.   Conflict theory focuses on identifying potential conflicts (or gap) between the teachers and students in higher education (Appelrouth & Edles, 2008, p. 355). As compared to functionalist theory, conflict theory is indirectly applicable when trying to examine the relationship between teachers and students in higher education.  

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