One of the core perspectives of sociology is functionalism, consensus or equilibrium theory. A sociologist using this approach assumes that in society everything (even crime), no matter how seemingly strange, out of place, or harmful, serves a purpose. Functionalism views society as a self-regulating system of interrelated elements with structured social relationships and observed regularities.
Emile Durkheim (1858-1917), is considered to be the first person to recommend that a sociological approach be used in the study of education. He said that society can survive only if there exists among its members a sufficient degree of homogeneity. Education perpetuates and reinforces this homogeneity by fixing in the child, from the beginning, the essential similarities that collective life demands.
·        Durkheim attempted to understand why education took the forms it did, rather than judge those forms.
·        He points out that, ―Education is the influence exercised by adult generations on those that are not yet ready for social life. Its object is to arouse and to develop in the child a certain number of physical, intellectual and moral states which are demanded of him by both the political society as a whole and the special milieu for which he is specifically destined----.‖
·        Durkheim observed that education takes different forms at different times and places showing that we cannot separate the educational system from the society for they reflect each other.

·        He stressed that in every time and place education is closely related to other institutions and to current values and beliefs.
·        Durkheim outlined his beliefs about the functions of schools and their relationship to society.
·        Durkheim argued that education has many functions:
 1. To reinforce social solidarity
--- History: Learning about individuals who have done good things for the many makes an individual feel insignificant. --- Pledging allegiance: Makes individuals feel part of a group and therefore less likely to break rules.
2. To maintain social role
 --- School is a society in miniature. It has a similar hierarchy, rules, expectations to the "outside world." It trains young people to fulfill roles.
3. To maintain division of labour.
 -- School sorts students into skill groups, encouraging students to take up employment in fields best suited to their abilities.
·        According to him, moral values are the foundations of the social order and society is perpetuated through its educational institutions.
·        Any change in society reflects a change in education and vice versa. In fact education plays an active role in the process of change.
·        Durkheim was interested in the way that education could be used to provide French citizens the sort of shared, secular background that would be necessary to prevent anomie in modern societies. He equated classrooms to ‗small societies‘ or agents of socialization.
·        The school acts as an intermediary between the affective morality of the family and the rigorous morality of the life in society.
·        Durkheim spoke about issues which are real even today- the needs of different segments of society with respect to education, discipline in schools, the role of schools in preparing young people for society, the relationship of education to social change, cross-cultural research and the social system of school and classroom.
Drawback of Durkheim’s Functionalism
Durkheim did not deal with some aspects of education such as the function of selection and allocation of adult roles, the gap between societal expectations of schools and actual school performance.