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Interpreting Education through Social Theory.

What is Social Theory? Social theory is the development of a set of interrelated definitions and relationships that organizes our understanding of the world (Allen, 2007,p.30). Social theory helps us to make sense of the world including what happens in our schools and classrooms. Different sociological perspectives support a different purpose for education. The values and beliefs of a society are reflected in the schooling of that time in history.

Modernism. Modernism refers to the time in history from Industrialization to the better part of the 20th century. In this era we see The change from religious society to Secular Society. The birth of Democracy. Changes in technology. Specialization in labour for the workforce. Mass production of goods and services.

The beliefs and values of this era were centered on the individuals rights to life , liberty and property without interference from the state and was termed Liberalism. Defined western society 19th & 20th Centuries. Belief in individuals right to life liberty & property. Belief that success was achieved through ability. Free market capitalism attained. Promised a just society where interests of the individual paramount.

In terms of education during the Modern Age Schooling was geared towards building the nation Democracy was affirmed. Individual achievement was recognized. Schools were a place for advancement. Means to a strong economy. Maintained the Status quo. Reinforced the values and beliefs of society. Maintained social stability.

Protected the interests of certain groups.

Postmodernism. Postmodernism refers to approximately the 1970s onwards. In this era we witness The dynamic nature of change. Telecommunications Media. Popular culture. A no longer one truth for all. Discourse Analysis.

In terms of education during the Postmodern age Knowledge is no longer used to maintain the status quo but rather Multiple perspectives of knowledge are favoured. The arts, music and literature are used to analyse society. Truth and reality are dymistified. Knowledge is found in the social and cultural makeup of the community. The arts, music and literature used to analyse society..

Today. Today technological developments are transforming Society. We live in a world of instant information. Facebook has become the way of communication for our youth. Riots can be evoked by a text message. The students of today are more knowledgeable about the world and are technology savvy. They have different capacities and different needs. The student of today lives with uncertainty. The world they have inherited is conflicted where the interests of business often collide with environmental issues. Teachers cannot afford to ignore these changes. The methods we use to teach at a primary level will greatly impact these generations. Piagets theory of cognitive development provides us with a good overview of childrens thinking and an initial framework from where we can begin Piagets Stages of Cognitive Development. Sensorimotor Preoperational Concrete Operational Formal Operational

Vygotsky Sociocultural theory maintains that how we think is a function of both social and cultural forces. The way childrens minds are shaped will be greatly influenced by their

parents, and the schools they go to. What we pass on to children will greatly impact on who they will become As Vygotsky himself said through others we become ourselves We have quite a responsibility and, key to the future generations we will teach, is being able to give them a sense of self and a sense of control. By applying Vygotskys Zone of Proximal Development and scaffolding techniques this is achievable. Vygotskys Sociocultural Theory How we think is a function of both social and cultural forces (Snowman et al, 2009, p. 41).

Something to think about? Theory and research will make us better teachers. One informs the other. By regularly evaluating our methods and ideas we will continue to be active in the process of change and be more reflective and reflexive teachers. We will not learn how to be teachers at university we will be learning to be teachers for the rest of our professional lives.

learning approach to learning rather than a teaching approach to learning

(Author unknown)