Social Foundations of Education essay

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Educational system has experienced a growing complexity due to the drastic changes that take place in the ultra-modern society. There has been a continuous advocacy for the inclusion of diversity in order to accommodate the growing demands of the students while taking into consideration their social and psychological needs. John Dewey and other educational revolutionists played the pivotal role in the early 20th century in making sure that there was a complete overhaul of educational system. Their principal goal was to make sure the way students were handled was transformed. According to their focus, students need to be treated as rational beings that require assistance with their own initiated learning goals. According to the theorists, students need not be forced to learn what might seem as irrelevant to them. Instead, they need to be enabled to realize their own potential and be more creative towards achieving their individual objectives. This paper will analyze the context of the educational system I have experienced in reference to Dewey’s concept of democratic development as well as social efficiency.

The kind of educational system I have experienced while growing up is where the state organizes and coordinates it. It ensures that education is free and available to all people. The educational system is holistic, comprising of achieving emotional, physical, intellectual, and moral development. The aim of this educational system is to develop abilities in students that will allow them to adapt to societal life as well as become responsible people who can make conscious choices concerning their professional education. There are students that have the capacity to be taught in native languages, which they can understand better. There exist some compulsory disciplines; these are – Russian language, history, mathematics, natural sciences and politics. Such an approach can be categorized as interplay between the democratic development and social efficacy.

According to Dewey, progressive education is the one that arouses the students’ interests and makes them be more creative in contributing to the continuous development of new approaches and complex mechanisms that will ultimately enable them to deal with the ever-changing environment (Dewey78). Therefore, Dewey does not recognize education that does not provide the students with a chance to exploit their full potential. This is what is referred to as democratic development in educational system.
Democratic development is the progress that refers to freedom or the opportunity presented to the students to choose their line of interest and explore for possible alternatives as they engage themselves in forming new ideas or receiving experiences. This leads to the increased problem-solving capacity through rational approaches. The objective of the tutor is not to tell the students what to do, but to direct them on how to gain relevant experience (Dewey 79). For instance, through my education, our teacher used to allow students to choose the poems they would like to recite and the method by means of which they wished to perform the task. In addition, there was a special class for solving mathematical problems where students willfully took the role of the teacher and solved problems on the chalkboard. The students were believed to learn better from their own initiative.

Furthermore, there were instances when we were encouraged to go out of the classrooms and to divide into groups. In this way, students were encouraged to learn in social settings. The tutor would encourage the students to discuss a topic of interest and come up with a summary. The topic could be fictional or real. In addition, some students applied their native languages to understand the topic of discussion better. Due to such practices, the students learnt to be active and creative as they interacted with other society members.

On the contrary, social efficiency refers to a situation where the orderliness of the society is taken into consideration. In this case, educational system, or simply the curriculum, is designed in such a way that its goals are geared towards application of the best scientific expertise and knowledge that will assist to harmonize the society (Stephen et al. 152). Therefore, this view is geared towards the general goals while the democratic development approach is individual-centered. According to the social efficiency view, though the students can be assisted through identifying and building on their interests or potentials leading to their professions, on the other hand, such an approach would be socially inefficient. There are many instances where social efficiency can be shown through the education experience.

First, the state, by means of the curriculum implementation board, designed certain subjects the students would have to take in order to satisfy the curriculum demands. There was also a specific schedule of events that applied to all people and were to be followed for one to be termed as successful. For instance, one was obliged to attend the kindergarten, early primary school, secondary school and, finally, receive post-secondary education. All these stages are to be completed together with the specified programs for one to qualify for certain future careers.

Second, there were programs designed to be followed by all people; these were referred to as the timetables. If the activities students indulged in were not completed on time, they had to abandon them and shift to the next program.

Both concepts of democratic development and social efficiency point to one conclusion: developing proper democratic society. Nevertheless, their approaches are different. Although both of them were applied, social efficiency was applied more than democratic development.

Dewey’s concept of handling students is based on two key areas: interest and experience (Stephen et al. 155). Assisting students to obtain new experiences through their own initiative and interests is essential. He argues that engaging in a more democratic learning environment is more educative. From the insightful perspective of Dewey, in order to create an individual with a broad outlook, who will grow to appreciate democracy, one has to start from proper education. This is mainly carried out through providing the students with enough freedom in choosing their orientations in terms of the activities they engage in. This should not only be made known to the students throughout the word, but they should practice the skills through their learning activities.

To a great extent, Dewey’s ideas can be justified. On the other hand, however, though students as human beings can be treated as rational beings, they need to be guided on virtually any activity they indulge in. In addition, any school, being a formalized institution, requires that a conditioned programme of events be used in order to make sure that there is minimal wastage of time. For example, it would be viable to train slow learners to learn faster. They can be helped to be faster through being directed on how to carry out activities in limited time.

Social efficiency systems are helpful in education. They assist to maintain order and cohesion within the educational system. There will be minimal conflicts if students are taught to do whatever they are guided by their teachers. However, bearing in mind that humans ought to be treated with rationality, sometimes students need to be given enough time to explore and gain experience on their own.  

Progressive education has been used to denote practices incorporated in the educational systems that are geared towards transforming schools into foundational grounds for a more democratic society. There exist different ideas regarding how a democratic society can be achieved. For instance, there is the democratic development popularized by Dewey among other proponents and there is the concept of social efficiency. Democratic development is student-centered while the social efficiency idea is society-centered. However, both of them champion for creating a good avenue for a democratic society. Though the ideas of the two approaches may seem contradictory, I would argue that they are compatible to a great extent. Therefore, an integrated curriculum would function better from my point of view.

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