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Teachers as Agents of Social Change - Coursework Example

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The idea of this paper "Teachers as Agents of Social Change" emerged from the author’s interest in how education influences different domains of social life. In this sense, it not only influences social change but also acts as an agent of social change…
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Teachers as Agents of Social Change
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Download file to see previous pages Culture is a learned aspect of society. It is a social asset and all members of society share its elements. These cultural elements are preserved and disseminated through education from one individual to another and also from one generation to another. In this manner, there is a direct relationship between culture and education. While culture gives identity to society, education sustains it. Education also plays a dynamic role in society. It performs the function of an initiator of social change. It not only generates new ideas and values but also transmits them to the younger generation. In this chapter, our attempt will be to examine the relationship between education and social change.
Education emerges out of the needs of society. An individual member passes away in course of time, but society continues to exist and new members are added to it by birth. Every society, thus, tries to stay together as a unit and develops a way of life. The group members have to train children to carry on the customs, knowledge, and skills of the group to preserve and perpetuate their way of life. This function is performed by education. Education also trains people to develop new ideas and adjust to a changing environment. Parents and family play an informal role in education. A more formal part comes from the education provided by social groups and community agencies. School, which is specially established for the purpose, conducts the most formal education. The school has, thus, become a social necessity for providing special learning. It makes possible the accumulation and transmission of knowledge on a large scale which was impossible before. Education, thus, performs several social functions. Starting from the socializing role in a family, its tasks cover areas like economic organization, social stratification, and political ideas. This is the essence of Apple's statement: that teachers, as well as the whole education system, should be the agents of change.
More than a century ago, Emile Durkheim rejected the idea that education could be the force to transform society and resolve social ills. Instead, Durkheim concluded that education "can be reformed only if society itself is reformed." He argued that education "is only the image and reflection of society. It imitates and reproduces the latter it does not create it" (Durkheim 1951: 372-373).
Most mainstream proposals for improving education assume that our society is fundamentally sound, but that for some reason, our schools are failing. Different critics target different villains: poor quality teachers, pampered, disruptive or ill-prepared students, the culture of their families, unions, bureaucrats, university schools of education, tests that are too easy, or inadequate curriculum. But if Durkheim was correct, a society has the school system it deserves. Denouncing the poor quality of education is like blaming a mirror because you do not like your reflection.
The first step in improving education is to recognize that the problems plaguing our schools are rooted in the way our society is organized. We live in a competitive economy where businesses and individuals continually seek advantage and higher profits, and where people on the bottom rung of the economic ladder are stigmatized as failures and blamed for their condition. Our culture glorifies violence in sports, movies, video games, and on evening news broadcasts that celebrate the death of others through hygienic strategic bombings. It is a society where no one feels obligated to pay taxes for the broader social good and where welfare reform” means denying benefits to children if their parents cannot find work; a society that promotes the need for instant gratification and uses youthful alienation to sell products; a society where those who do not fit in are shunned. ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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