Education in Society
Education is meant to equip students with the necessary knowledge and vital skills in order to conquer the world. It provides a platform on which the societal culture is transmitted, i.e. individuals acquire knowledge on values, beliefs and norms of a given society. The education platform has often been viewed as a socializing agent who refers to “institutions that influence self concepts, emotions, attitudes and behavior” (Saldana, 2013). The influence is focused on making an individual conform to the beliefs and attitudes of the influencers. One of the ways through which education acts as a socializing agent lies in the ensuring conformity to the societal standards, i.e. its response to the needs and demands of the society through provision of trained workers as well as intellectual and educated citizens is a way of conforming to societal standards. With the current emerging problems in the society such as drug abuse, sexual immorality and crime, the education system has been adjusted to address these issues by teaching learners about the adverse impacts of involving themselves in drug use, unprotected sex and crimes; apart from that, it is equipping them with the vital intellectual skills.
Besides acting positively as a transformative tool, the education system has also been echoed to reflect the biases and limits of our society. For instance, there is a great similarity between the social control concept in schools and the same concept in prisons. By drawing up a routine program for the students as well as providing rules and regulations to govern their actions, the system has acquired lots of similarities with the penal system (Saldana, 2013). Additionally, the manner in which the social order is portrayed and reinforced in the education system further illustrates just how much difference is there in the social classes, with a main division created between those of low social status and the high classes in the society, i.e. vocational schools were created for the former and high schools for the latter.
As was described by Paulo Freire, an effective education system would be one that is transformative. This form of learning is one that reinforces self actualization through liberation and freedom. Attaining transformative education is quite hard owing to the complexities and constraints present in the socio-cultural environment. This type of learning has been characterized by four main concepts: consciousness raising, self-development, critical reflection and individuation. According to Freire (2005), the socio cultural constraints limit the extent to which learners can understand themselves and the communities in which they reside, as well as their interests. Another factor that limits self-actualization is the “banking concept” which refers to the limitless depositing of information to students by teachers. This has turned learners into robotic recipients and bankers of information that has no actual connection to their lives.
The main aim of transformative learning is to identify these forces and free one’s self from their influence. As a learner, it would be appropriate to point out that Freire’s view on changing the social and personal structures to experience transformative learning is quite efficient, i.e. every learner needs personal and social change to experience full liberation (Freire, 2005).
As it is evidenced from the above mentioned facts, education is a vital part of an individual’s self-actualization. Through the self-actualization, a person is empowered to realize personal dreams and take part in societal developments with minimal societal constraints. Apart from enhancing personal growth and development, education also plays a lot of vital functions in the community. As was stated earlier, education is an important reagent of societal transformation (Saha, 2011). One way through which education benefits the society is by equipping learners with the necessary skills and knowledge that have always helped in societal development. By equipping learners with these skills, they are empowered to take advantage of the available opportunities applying their social and vocational capabilities in order to become useful and economically productive members of the society. Being a socializing agent, education has been used to develop and implement new values in the society as well as equip learners with the necessary skills to adapt to environmental changes.
Education teaches learners on the laws, traditions and norms of the society including rights and responsibilities of an individual; thereby making the society a safe place to live in. Through personal transformation, it also helps in the elimination or minimization of the unwanted survival traits such as robbery, drug abuse, and prostitution among others. Sociologists study education using two major analytical levels: the macro level involves the identification of social forces and they establish their impact on education (Saha, 2011). Social forces include the following aspects: politics, economics and culture. At the micro level, sociologists attempt to identify the differences in school practices, and the impact that these differences have on student performances. While the former focuses on the whole education system, the latter aims at individual student outcomes. Thus, education is also a vital part of sociology.
Freire, P. (2005). Pedagogy of the oppressed. Retrieved from https://libcom.org/files/FreirePedagogyoftheOppressed.pdf
Saha, L. (2011). Sociology of education. Retrieved from http://www.sagepub.com/oswmedia3e/study/chapters/handbooks/handbook11.1.pdf
Saldana, J. (2013). Power and conformity in today’s schools. International journal of humanities and social science. Vol 3. Retrieved from http://www.ijhssnet.com/journals/Vol_3_No_1_January_2013/27.pdf