In general, a functionalist will view educational institutions in a positive manner and will believe that these institutions help contribute to greater social stability.
Functionalism is a theory in sociology that views society as a complex system composed of many individual parts working together to maintain solidarity and social stability. Functionalists often like to compare society to a living organism. Like an organism, which is made of different cells, tissues, organs, and organ systems that work cohesively to maintain homeostasis, the various elements in a society (individuals, families, communities, groups, organizations) also work together to maintain balance.
A functionalist's perspective on education likely involves examining how educational institutions help maintain balance and common good in society. A functionalist understands that schools allow for socialization to occur, allowing individuals to learn and develop the skills and attitudes necessary to interact with others in their daily lives. Important values are also emphasized in schools, including the values of cooperation, interaction, achievement, and equality of opportunity.
Emile Durkheim is considered the founder of Functionalism. He believed that education helps create greater social solidarity. To Durkheim, education systems are but one of many institutions that meet the needs of society and help maintain dynamic equilibrium.