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Wednesday, January 13, 2010



The term education is derived from the Latin educare which literally means to bring up and is connected with the verb 'educare'which means to bring forth. The idea of education is not merely to impart knowledge to the pupil in some subjects but to develop in him those habits and attitudes with which he can successfully face the future. Peter Worsely says a large part of our social and technical skills are acquired through deliberate instruction which we call education. It is the main waking activity of children from the ages of five to fifteen and often beyond. In the recent years education has become the major interest of some sociologists. As a result a new branch of sociology called Sociology of Education has become established.

Durkheim conceives education as the socialization of the younger generation. He further states that it is a continuous effort to impose on the child ways of seeing, feeling and acting which he could not have arrived at spontaneously.

Sumner defined education as the attempt to transmit to the child the mores of the group so that he can learn what conduct is approved and what disapproved….. How he ought to behave in all kind of cases: what he ought to believe and reject.

A.W Green writes: Historically education has meant the conscious training of the young for the later adoption of adult roles. By modern convention however education has come to mean formal training by specialists within the formal organization of the school.

The concepts of socialization and learning are related to in fact often inseparable from the concept of education. The main function of the educative process is to pass down knowledge from generation to generation- a process that is essential to the development of culture. Formal education is primarily designed to inculcate crucial skills and values central to the survival of the society or to those who hold effective power. Inherent in education, in all period of man's history is a stimulus to creative thinking and action which accounts in part for culture change, culture change itself being a powerful stimulus to further innovation.

  • Equality of Educational Opportunity
  • Education and Social Change
  • Education and Modernization
  • Education and Culture
  • Education and Social control

Equality of Educational Opportunity

The equalization of educational opportunities is essentially linked with the equality notions in the social system. The social system which intends to provide equal opportunities for the advancement of all has to make provisions for equal educational opportunities also. In modern industrial society education has become the main agency for socializing new born into law abiding citizens and productive members of the society. Formal education has become almost indispensable because to participate in economic production one needs to learn specialized skills which cannot be acquired through family or any other agency. Due to the indispensability of formal education in advanced industrial societies education is provided by the state as a matter of right for all its citizens. Formal institutions – schools, colleges and universities are organized for this purpose.

In most societies today legislations exist guaranteeing equality of the right of education. In fact to realize this ideal of equality of educational opportunities special efforts are made by the welfare states in industrial societies to provide compulsory education to the socially deprived. In developing countries like India state has assumed the responsibility to provide universal free education at the school level. Special policy measures have been developed to spread modern scientific secular education to rural areas and policy of protective discriminating has been adopted to encourage the traditionally deprived section like SC and ST to take to modern education. However in spite of the creation of a legal framework in most societies to ensure quality of educational opportunity such an ideal continues to be elusive in reality even in the industrially advanced societies.

Raymond Bourdon has investigated the problem of equality of educational opportunities. Bourdon has tried to analyze the relationship between social structure and educational attainment. Bourdon maintain that even if there were no sub cultural difference between classes the very fact that people start at different positions in the class system will produce inequality of educational opportunity. For example the costs involved and the benefits to be gained for a working class boy and an upper middle class boy in choosing the same educational course are very different simply because their starting positions in the class-system are different.

Bourdon also relates the costs and benefits of course selection to family and peer group solidarity. His work has important implications for practical solutions to the problem of inequality of education opportunity. Even if positive discrimination worked and schools were able to compensate for the primary effects of stratification considerable inequality of educational opportunity would remain.

Bourdon argues that there are two ways of removing the secondary effects of stratification. The first involves the educational system. If it provides a single compulsory curriculum for all students the element of choice in the selection of course and duration of stay in the system would be removed. The individual would no longer be influenced by his courses and remain in full time education for the same period of time. He argues that more the branching points there are in the educational system point at which the student can leave or choose between alternative courses the more likely working class students are to leave or choose lower level courses. The gradual raising of the school leaving age in all advanced industrial societies has reduced inequality of educational opportunity but the present trend indicate that his reduction will at best proceed at a much slower rate. Bourdon's second solution to the problem of inequality of educational opportunity is the abolition of social stratification. He sees moves in the direction of economic equality as the most effective way of reducing inequality or educational opportunity. As a result he argues that the key to equality of opportunity lies outside rather than inside the schools. Bourdon concludes: for inequality or educational opportunity to be eliminated either a society must be unstratified or its school system must be completely undifferentiated.

Problems concerning equality of opportunities in education
Education helps in establishing equality and ensuring social justice but the system of education itself can add to the existing inequalities or at least perpetuate the same. Inequalities of educational opportunities arise due to

  • Poverty as the poor cannot afford to meet the expenses of education.
  • Children studying in the rural schools have to compete with the children in urban areas where there are well-equipped schools.
  • In the places where no primary, secondary or collegiate educational institutions exist children do not get the same opportunity as those who have all these in their neighborhood.
  • Wide inequalities also arise from differences in home environments. A child from a rural household or slum does not have the same opportunity as a child from an upper class home with educated parents.
  • There is wide sex disparity in India. Here girl's education is not given the same encouragement as boys.
  • Education of backward classes including SC and ST and economically backward sections is not at par with that of other communities or classes.

Education and Social Change

The role of education as an agent or instrument of social change and social development is widely recognized today. Social change may take place – when humans need changeWhen the existing social system or network of social institutions fails to meet the existing human needs and when new materials suggest better ways of meeting human needs.

According to Maclver social change takes place as a response to many types of changes that take place in the social and nonsocial environment. Education can initiate social changes by bringing about a change in outlook and attitude of man. It can bring about a change in the pattern of social relationships and thereby it may cause social changes.

Earlier educational institutions and teachers used to show a specific way of life to the students and education was more a means of social control than an instrument of social change. Modern educational institutions do not place much emphasis upon transmitting a way of life to the students. The traditional education was meant for an unchanging static society not marked by any change. But today education aims at imparting knowledge. Education was associated with religion. It has become secular today. It is an independent institution now. Education has been chiefly instrumental in preparing the way for the development of science and technology. Education has brought about phenomenal changes in every aspect of men's life. Francis J.Brown remarks that education is a process which brings about changes in the behavior of society. It is a process which enables every individual to effectively participate in the activities of society and to make positive contribution to the progress of society.

Education and Modernization

Modernization is a process of socio-cultural transformation. It is a thorough going process of change involving values, norms, institutions and structures. Political dimensions of modernization involves creation of a modern nation state and the development of key institutions –political parties, bureaucratic structures, legislative bodies and a system of elections based on universal franchise and secret ballot. Cultural modernization involves adherence to nationalistic ideology, belief in equality, freedom and humanism, a rational and scientific outlook. Economic modernization involves industrialization accompanied with monetization of economy, increasing division of labor, use of management techniques and improved technology and the expansion of service sector. Social modernization involves universalistic values, achievement motivation, increasing mobility both social and geographic increasing literacy and urbanization and the decline of traditional authority.

The secular and scientific education act as an important means of modernization. It helps in the diffusion of modern values of equality, freedom and humanism. The modern school system can inculcate achievement motivation. These values can form the basis of new relations in the society and growth of rationality can enable the development of administrative system. Diffusion of values of equality, freedom and humanism can lay the foundations of a democratic political system. The spread of modern education in the second half of the 19th century led to the emergence of modern political elite in India who provided leadership in the freedom struggle. The diffusion of scientific and technical knowledge by modern educational institutions can help in the creation of skilled manpower to play the occupational roles demanded by the industrial economy. Other values like individualism and universalistic ethics etc can also be inculcated through education. Thus education can be an important means of modernization. The importance of education can be realized from the fact that all modernizing societies tend to emphasize on universalization of education and the modernized societies have already attained it.

Education and Social control

Helvetius referring to education in 18th century France observed that men are born ignorant not stupid;they are made stupid by education.This is not the modern view.There may be still be societies in which men's minds are stupefied by dogmatic instruction which inclines them to accept uncritically the views of political or religious authorities but the general character of formal education has been profoundly changed by modern science and technology.The great difference between primitive and early societies and modern industrial societies is that in the former education is largely concerned with transmitting a way of life while in the latter because of the mass of available knowledge the application of science to production and the elaborate division of labour formal education not only preponderates in the process of education as a whole but is largely devoted to the communication of empirical knowledge.

One aspect of this change is indicated by the observation that in modern societies the content of education is less literary and more scientific. A second major difference is that whereas in earlier societies a relatively unchanging way of life and sum of knowledge were transmitted the scientific knowledge communicated by modern education is expected to change moreover education is increasingly required to prepare individuals for a changing rather than a static world.

Formal education in modern societies communicate independently ideas which play a part in regulating behaviour.Malinowski rightly mentioned this feature in its rudimentary form in primitive societies when he included the rules of craftmanship as an element in social control.Modern science and technology are not only the basis of infinitely more complex rules of craftmenship but also of a general rational approach to nature and social life which has an increasingly important role in establishing and maintaining social cooperation.The scientific thought implicitly or explicitly criticized the ideas propounded in religious and moral doctrines and has largely been responsible for the changes which the latter have undergone. The whole rationalization of the modern world with which Max Weber was pre-occupied is connected with the development of science. Since the chief vehicle of this development has been the educational system we can speak of formal education as a type of social control.

Education has contributed to the regulation of conduct that is the early socialization of the child. The work of educational reformers such as Montessori and Froebel has brought about great changes in the education of young children.So far the reforms were connected with scientific studies of the development of children such as those of Piaget they arose from the development of the social sciences. Moreover being based upon this observation and analysis of the actual development of children's activities,needs and problems they can be regarded as having arisen very largely within the educational sphere itself as independent discoveries.

The changes in the formal education system have themselves brought about changes in the family socialization aided by the spread of social science knowledge.In this sense the formal education of children has originated new forms of regulation of behavior. Education in a broad sense from infancy to adulthood is thus a vital means of social control and its significance has been greatly enhanced in recent years by the rpaid expansion of education at all levels in the developing countries and by the equally rapid growth of secondary and higher education in the industrial countries.

Through education new generations learn the social norms and the penalties for infringing them; they are instructed also in their station and its duties within the system of social differentiation and stratification.In modern societies where formal education becomes predominant and where an important occupational group of teachers comes into existence, education is also a major type of social control as the source of scientific knowledge which is in competition and sometimes in conflict with other types of control.This conflict may become particularly acute with the extension of higher education to a much larger proportion of the the experience of Europe and USA show and the educational system may increasingly provide one of the main sources of change and innovation in the social norms.

Education and Culture

Education encompasses teaching and learning specific skills and also something less tangible but more profound: the imparting of knowledge good judgement and wisdom. Durkheim sees education as the socialization of the younger generation .It is a continuous effort to impose on the child ways of seeing,feeling and acting which he could not have arrived at spontaneously. Education has as one of its fundamental goals the imparting of culture from generation to generation.Culture is a growing whole.There can be no break in the continuity of culture.The cultural elements are passed on through the agents like family,school and other associations.All societies maintain themselves through their culture.Culture here refers to a set of beliefs,skills,art,literature,philosophy,religion,music etc which must be learned.This social heritage must be transmitted through social organizations.

Education has this function of cultural transmission in all societies.The curriculum of a school ,its extra-curricular activities and the informal relationships among students and teachers communicate social skills and values.Through various activities school imparts values such as co-operation ,teamspirit ,obedience ,discipline etc.Education acts an integrative force in the society by communicating values that unites different sections of society.The school teach skills to the children which help them later to integrate within the culture of the society.Education in its formal or informal pattern has been performing this role since time immemorial.Education can be looked upon as process from this point of view also. Education has brought phenomenal changes in every aspect of man's life.
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