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“Once social change begins, it cannot be reversed. You cannot un-educate the person who has learned to read. You cannot humiliate the person who feels pride. You cannot oppress the people who are not afraid anymore. We have seen the future, and the future is ours”. Cesar Chavez This study will be taking a look at the relationship and interaction between Social Change and Education and how one influences the other and vice versa. An attempt will be made to understand and explain the concept(s) driving both factors, and their relationship with one another.
Definition of Terms
Social change refers to an alteration in the social order of a society. It may refer to the notion of social progress or socio-cultural evolution, the philosophical idea that society moves forward by dialectical or evolutionary means. It may refer to a paradigmatic change in the socio-economic structure, for instance a shift away from feudalism and towards capitalism. Accordingly, it may also refer to social revolution, such as the Socialist revolution presented in Marxism, or to other social movements, such as Women's suffrage or the Civil rights movement. Social change may be driven by cultural, religious, economic, scientific or technological forces. More generally, social change may include changes in nature, social institutions, social behaviours, or social relations and in this case, Education.
Brief History of Social Change
Social change can be described to have been a constant phenomenon that started from the very first man. Evolution and the Religious concept of Creation both support’s the theory that since the very beginning of the existence of man, social change has been inevitable, and in fact, a constant action that has driven growth, civilization and brought about novel ideas and social institutions relevant till date. Social change from time in memorial has been an ever changing, ever evolving concept that drives growth and brings about a series of changes in events and
methodology of social institutions and interactions. It will be near impossible to outline how social change has metamorphosed over the years. Social change builds community-based responses that address underlying social problems on an individual, institutional, community, national and/or international level. Social change can change attitudes, behaviours, laws, policies and institutions to better reflect values of inclusion, fairness, diversity and opportunity. Social change involves a collective action of individuals who are closest to the social problems to develop solutions that address social issues. Basically, change comes from two sources. One source is random or unique factors such as climate, weather, or the presence of specific groups of people. Another source is systematic factors. For example, successful development has the same general requirements, such as a stable and flexible government, enough free and available resources, and a diverse social organization of society. So, on the whole, social change is usually a combination of systematic factors along with some random or unique factors. Examples of situations where social change has been very visible in Nigeria over the past few years are in the areas of governance, politics, government policies, resource control and management as it relates to the running of the Nigerian state by elected political officers relating to the betterment of the socio-economic welfare of the populace and how the people review and better understand these events resulting into political awakening. As you are reading this much of the Middle East and North Africa is in the grip of what has been called ‘The Arab Spring’. Popular uprisings in Egypt, Tunisia, Libya and Syria are seeing trends for regime change and some form of democratization. This has been truly unexpected and it has been brought about by social change. Another example relates to the use of the internet and web based medium of information to drive social change and interactions whereby a much larger number of persons now use internet based social networks to drive change, socialize and educate people in mass numbers. We now use computers and connectivity to find different ways of working, for instance, so that we could work longer and harder, holding cyber-meetings across time zones, outsourcing non-essential services to lower-cost economies. We used the web to hire virtual assistants to reduce office overheads and we each became entrepreneurs, using the virtual economy as our playground to set up new businesses, try different business models and pursue novel ideas.
Etymologically, the word education is derived from the Latin ēducātiō (“A breeding, a bringing up, a rearing”) from ēdūcō (“I educate, I train”) which is related to the homonym ēdūcō (“I lead forth, I take out; I raise up, I erect”) from ē- (“from, out of”) and dūcō (“I lead, I conduct”). Education in its broadest, general sense is the means through which the aims and habits of a group of people sustain from one generation to the next. Generally, it occurs through any experience that has a formative effect on the way one thinks, feels, or acts. In its narrow, technical sense, education is the formal process by which society deliberately transmits its accumulated knowledge, skills, customs and values from one generation to another, e.g. instruction in schools. Education involves institutionalized teaching and learning in relation to a curriculum, which itself is established according to a predetermined purpose of the schools in the system.
Brief History of Education
The history of education according to Dieter Lenzen, president of the Freie University, Berlin (1994), “began either millions of years ago or at the end of 1770”. Education as a science cannot be separated from the educational traditions that existed before. Adults trained the young of their society in the knowledge and skills they would need to master and eventually pass on. The evolution of culture, and human beings as a species depended on this practice of transmitting knowledge. In pre-literate societies this was achieved orally and through imitation. Story-telling continued from one generation to the next. Oral language developed into written symbols and letters. The depth and breadth of knowledge that could be preserved and passed soon increased exponentially. When cultures began to extend their knowledge beyond the basic skills of communicating, trading, gathering food, religious practices, etc., formal education, and schooling, eventually followed. Schooling in this sense was already in place in Egypt between 3000 and 500BC. In the West, Ancient Greek philosophy arose in the 6th century BC. Plato was the Classical Greek philosopher, mathematician and writer of philosophical dialogues who founded the Academy in Athens which was the first institution of higher learning in the Western world. Inspired by the admonition of his mentor, Socrates, prior to his unjust execution that “the unexamined life is not worth living”, Plato and his student, the political scientist Aristotle, helped lay the foundations of Western philosophy and science.
The city of Alexandria in Egypt was founded in 330BC, became the successor to Athens as the intellectual cradle of the Western World. The city hosted such leading lights as the mathematician Euclid and anatomist Herophilus; constructed the great Library of Alexandria; and translated the Hebrew Bible into Greek (called the Septuagint for it was the work of 70 translators). Greek civilization was subsumed within the Roman Empire. While the Roman Empire and its new Christian religion survived in an increasingly Hellenised form in the Byzantine Empire centred at Constantinople in the East, Western civilization suffered a collapse of literacy and organization following the fall of Rome in AD 476. In the East, Confucius (551-479), of the State of Lu, was China's most influential ancient philosopher, whose educational outlook continues to influence the societies of China and neighbours like Korea, Japan and Vietnam. He gathered disciples and searched in vain for a ruler who would adopt his ideals for good governance, but his Analects were written down by followers and have continued to influence education in the East into the modern era. In Western Europe after the Fall of Rome, the Catholic Church emerged as the unifying force. Initially the sole preserver of literate scholarship in Western Europe, the church established Cathedral schools in the Early Middle Ages as centres of advanced education. Some of these ultimately evolved into medieval universities and forebears of many of Europe’s modern universities. During the High Middle Ages, Chartres Cathedral operated the famous and influential Chartres Cathedral School. The medieval universities of Western Christendom were well-integrated across all of Western Europe, encouraged freedom of enquiry and produced a great variety of fine scholars and natural philosophers, including Thomas Aquinas of the University of Naples, Robert Grosseteste of the University of Oxford, an early expositor of a systematic method of scientific experimentation; and Saint Albert the Great, a pioneer of biological field research of the University of Bologne is considered the oldest continually operating university. Elsewhere during the Middle Ages, Islamic science and mathematics flourished under the Islamic caliphate established across the Middle East, extending from the Iberian Peninsula in the west to the Indus in the east and to the Almoravid Dynasty and Mali Empire in the south. The Renaissance in Europe ushered in a new age of scientific and intellectual inquiry and appreciation of ancient Greek and Roman civilizations. Around 1450, Johannes Gutenberg developed a printing press, which allowed works of literature to spread more quickly. The European Age of Empires saw European ideas of education in
philosophy, religion, arts and sciences spread out across the globe. Missionaries and scholars also brought back new ideas from other civilisations - as with the Jesuit China missions who played a significant role in the transmission of knowledge, science, and culture between China and the West, translating Western works like Euclids Elements for Chinese scholars and the thoughts of Confucius for Western audiences. The Enlightenment saw the emergence of a more secular educational outlook in the West. Nowadays, in modern times, some kind of education is compulsory to all people in most countries. Due to population growth and the proliferation of compulsory education, UNESCO has calculated that in the next 30 years more people will receive formal education than in all of human history thus far.
Types of Education
Indigenous education refers to the inclusion of indigenous knowledge, models, methods and content within formal and non-formal educational systems. Often in a post-colonial context, the growing recognition and use of indigenous education methods can be a response to the erosion and loss of indigenous knowledge and language through the processes of colonialism. Furthermore, it can enable indigenous communities to reclaim and revalue their languages and cultures, and in so doing, improve the educational success of indigenous students.
Alternative education, also known as non-traditional education or educational alternative, is a broad term that may be used to refer to all forms of education outside of traditional education (for all age groups and levels of education). This may include not only forms of education designed for students with special needs (ranging from teenage pregnancy to intellectual disability), but also forms of education designed for a general audience and employing alternative educational philosophies and methods. Alternatives of the latter type are often the result of education reform and are rooted in various philosophies that are commonly fundamentally different from those of traditional compulsory education. While some have strong political, scholarly, or philosophical orientations, others are more informal associations of teachers and students dissatisfied with certain aspects of traditional education.
These alternatives, which include charter schools, alternative schools, independent schools, homeschooling and auto didacticism vary widely, but often emphasize the value of small class size, close relationships between students and teachers, and a sense of community. Alternative education may also allow for independent learning and engaging class activities or via the internet.
Systems of Schooling
Systems of schooling involve institutionalized teaching and learning in relation to a curriculum, which itself is established according to a predetermined purpose of the schools in the system.
In formal education, a curriculum is the set of courses, and their content, offered at a school or university. As an idea, curriculum stems from the Latin word for race course, referring to the course of deeds and experiences through which children grow to become mature adults. A curriculum is prescriptive, and is based on a more general syllabus which merely specifies what topics must be understood and to what level to achieve a particular grade or standard. An academic discipline is a branch of knowledge which is formally taught, either at the university–or via some other such method. Each discipline usually has several sub-disciplines or branches, and distinguishing lines are often both arbitrary and ambiguous. Examples of broad areas of academic disciplines include the natural sciences, mathematics, computer science, social sciences, humanities and applied sciences.
The term preschool refers to a school for children who are not old enough to attend kindergarten. It is a nursery school. Preschool education is important because it can give a child the edge in a competitive world and education climate. While children who do not receive the fundamentals during their preschool years will be taught the alphabet, counting, shapes and colours and designs when they begin their formal education they will be behind the children who already possess that knowledge.
Primary (or elementary) education consists of the first 5–7 years of formal, structured education. In general, primary education consists of six or eight years of schooling starting at the age of five or six, although this varies between, and sometimes within, countries. Globally, around 89% of primary-age children are enrolled in primary education, and this proportion is rising. Under the Education For All programs driven by UNESCO, most countries have committed to achieving universal enrolment in primary education by 2015, and in many countries, it is compulsory for children to receive primary education. The division between primary and secondary education is somewhat arbitrary, but it generally occurs at about eleven or twelve years of age. Some education systems have separate middle schools, with the transition to the final stage of secondary education taking place at around the age of fourteen. Schools that provide primary education are mostly referred to as primary schools. Primary schools in these countries are often subdivided into infant schools and junior school.
In most contemporary educational systems of the world, secondary education comprises the formal education that occurs during adolescence. It is characterized by transition from the typically compulsory, comprehensive primary education for minors, to the optional, selective tertiary, “post-secondary”, or “higher” education (e.g. university, vocational school) for adults. Depending on the system, schools for this period, or a part of it, may be called secondary or high schools, gymnasiums, lyceums, middle schools, colleges, or vocational schools. The exact meaning of any of these terms varies from one system to another. The exact boundary between primary and secondary education also varies from country to country and even within them, but is generally around the seventh to the tenth year of schooling. Secondary education occurs mainly during the teenage years. The purpose of secondary education can be to give common knowledge, to prepare for higher education or to train directly in a profession. The emergence of secondary education in the United States did not happen until 1910, caused by the rise in big businesses and technological advances in factories (for instance, the emergence of electrification), that required skilled workers. In order to meet this new job demand, high schools were created and the curriculum focused on practical job skills that would better prepare students for white collar or skilled blue collar work. This proved to be beneficial for both the employer and the employee,
because this improvement in human capital caused employees to become more efficient, which lowered costs for the employer, and skilled employees received a higher wage than employees with just primary educational attainment. In Europe, the grammar school or academy existed from as early as the 16th century; public schools or fee-paying schools, or charitable educational foundations have an even longer history.
University education includes teaching, research and social services activities, and it includes both the undergraduate level (sometimes referred to as tertiary education) and the graduate (or postgraduate) level (sometimes referred to as graduate school). Universities are generally composed of several colleges. In Nigeria for instance, universities can be private and independent, like Covenant University, they can be public and State governed, like the Lagos State University or they can be independent but State funded, like the University of Lagos.
A growing system of higher education is open education through the internet. It is an approach to learning that gives students flexibility and choice over what, when, at what pace, where, and how they learn. Open learning system often includes aspects of e-learning. There are numerous universities and organizations that create open educational resources for self motivated students to access anywhere, at any time. Unlike other, more traditional forms of higher education, open education generally do not offer recognized degrees. However, there are organizations developing academic badges that would serve a similar purpose to a traditional degree like the National Open University, here in Nigeria.
Adult learning, or adult education, is the practice of training and developing skills in adults. It is also sometimes referred to as andragogy (the art and science of helping adults learn). Adult education has become common in many countries. It takes on many forms, ranging from formal class-based learning to self-directed learning and elearning. A number of career specific courses such as veterinary assisting, medical billing and coding, real estate license, bookkeeping and many more are now available to students through the Internet.
The Relationship between Social Change and Education
The role of education as an agent or instrument of social change and social development is widely recognized today. Social change may take place in the following process: (i) When human need change, (ii) When the existing social system or network of social institutions fail to meet the existing human needs, and, (iii) When new materials suggest better ways of meeting human needs. Social change do not take place automatically or by themselves. Social change takes place as a response to many type of change that take place on the social and nonsocial environment. Education can initiate social changes by bringing about a change in the outlook and attitude of the people. It can bring about a change in the pattern of social relationships thereby causing massive social changes. There was a time when educational institution and teachers were engaged in transmitting a way of life to the student. During those days, education was more of a means of social control rather than an instrument of social change. Modern schools and universities do not place much emphasis upon transmitting a way of life to the students today anymore. The traditional education system was the heart for an unchanging state controlled society not often marked by rapid changes. However, but today, education aims at imparting empirical knowledge, developing reasoning about perennial questions, mastering the methods of scientific inquiry, cultivate the intellect, create positive change agents. The purpose and goal of the school today is to teach pupils how to think. Education when associated with religion however becomes secular today. It is also instrumental in preparing the way for the development of science and technology. Education has brought about phenomenal charges in every aspect of human lifestyle today. It is a process which enables every individual to effectively participate in the activities of society and to make positive contribution to the process is of society and change.
How Social Change Affects Education and Vice Versa
Since social change consists of a whole lot of factors such as cultural, religious, economic, scientific and, or technological forces, more generally, social change may include changes in human nature and social institutions such as Education. Social change affects education, and education affects social change in the following ways:
One of the most substantial uses in education is the use of technology. Also technology is an increasingly influential factor in education. Computers and mobile phones are used in developed and developing countries both to complement established education practices and develop new ways of learning such as online education (a type of distance education). This gives students the opportunity to choose what they are interested in learning. The proliferation of computers also means the increase of programming and blogging. Technology offers powerful learning tools that demand new skills and understandings of students, including Multimedia, and provides new ways to engage students, such as Virtual learning environments. The use of technology, a tool of social change has greatly influenced education today by providing an avenue whereby the transfer of information and knowledge has been greatly simplified making education available to many as quickly as possible in a more uniformed manner. Information and communication technologies (ICTs) are a diverse set of tools and resources used to communicate, create, disseminate, store, and manage information hereby enhancing social change. These technologies include computers, the Internet, broadcasting technologies (radio and television), and telephony. There is increasing interest in how computers and the Internet can improve education at all levels, in both formal and non-formal settings. Older ICT technologies, such as radio and television, have for over forty years been used for open and distance learning, although print remains the cheapest, most accessible and therefore most dominant delivery mechanism in both developed and developing countries. In addition to classroom application and growth of e-learning opportunities for knowledge attainment, educators involved in student affairs programming have recognized the increasing importance of computer usage with data generation for and about students. Motivation and retention counsellors, along with faculty and
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administrators, can impact the potential academic success of students by provision of technology based experiences in the University setting.
2. Social Interaction
Social interaction within the context of education and the transfer of knowledge, the proliferation of ideas, trends and methodology have become far easier to replicate in educational institutions and school systems all around the world as a result of social change. The methods of learning and the transfer of information and knowledge have been made uniform or similar as a result of social interaction in the world today giving rise to a similar practice across nations in today’s global village. School systems and curriculum have been simplified and harmonized hereby improving social interaction and integration amongst people of different race across the world today bringing forth and promoting togetherness. A descriptive theory of education can be thought of as a conceptual scheme that ties together various otherwise discrete particulars. For example, a cultural theory of education shows how the concept of culture can be used to organize and unify the variety of facts about how and what people learn.
It has been argued that high rates of education are essential for countries to be able to achieve high levels of economic growth. Empirical analyses tend to support the theoretical prediction that poor countries should grow faster than rich countries because they can adopt cutting edge technologies already tried and tested by rich and developed countries. However, technology transfer requires knowledgeable managers and engineers who are able to operate new machines or production practices borrowed from the leader in order to close the gap through imitation. Therefore, a country’s ability to learn from the leader and embrace social change is a function of its stock of human capital. Recent studies of the determinants of aggregate economic growth have stressed the importance of fundamental economic institutions and the role of cognitive skills.
4. Social and Political Contribution
After 1945, the role of higher education as a social instrument and agency became widely accepted. A recurring theme of the 1950s was equality of opportunity, and the succeeding decade of dramatic and extraordinary change (Stewart, 1989: 95), which incorporated a significant expansion of the higher education system, was predicated on the ambition of moving towards a just and concerned society. The
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profile of universities as agents of social change was lower key in the 1970s and 1980s, with an emphasis on their infrastructural role in underpinning the economy and the expansion of the 1990s was also justified in terms that emphasised the need for higher level skills in an emerging globalised knowledge economy. As the decade progressed, however, this was combined with more explicit social agenda, with the promise of widening participation and the reduction of social exclusion through the opening up of higher education to wider sections of society in political matters. The social role of universities has recently been the subject of wider debate. Academics and university administrators have been criticised for making selfsatisfied assumptions about their role as carriers of liberal values and generators of human well-being. There is an expectation – from government and more widely – that higher education should fulfil a number of purposes: (i) to be a major contributor to economic success; (ii) to produce, exchange and transfer cutting edge knowledge from research; and (iii) to produce graduates with appropriate skills and knowledge. And, as noted above, it is also expected to contribute to the creation of a more socially inclusive society. Given the pressures of meeting these expectations, there must be some doubt about whether all can successfully be met. However, the distinctive missions and priorities that higher education providers have developed seems to be a strength of an increasingly diverse system in the world over; from the Middle-East, to Africa, Asia and new emerging economies all around the world – it provides opportunity for a wider range of learners and helps to meet the needs of specific regional and local economic and social contexts.
Conservative Critics of Social Change and Education
Some conservative critics that believed that social change is not hinged on education criticized the work of John Dewey (2001) who argued that conservatives wanting to maintain old and time-old system of tried values and truths is a concrete evidence that times have changed as a result of education, and that they still continue to change. Conservatives are opposed to modernism and progressivism. Dewey (2001) claims that since schools already reflect these changing times, conservatives basically oppose the present educational system. These conservatives believe that schools should not influence or guide social change.
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They favoured older types of study and disciplinary methods in schools whereby students are instructed. This suggests that schools can and should have a positive influence on society, but by instilling conservative principles only. This contributes to the confusion about education and its effects and influence on social change. Dewey (2001) suggests that those who take this view are conservatives in education because they are socially conservative, as they reject the direction in which society is taking. Along with conservatives, those who represent the dominant economic and political regime believe that education does not influence social order or social change. This group believes that the economy is the influence, and that education merely reflects this social order and the dominant economic class. They believe that schools are engaged in shaping as far as in them lies a mentality, a type of belief, desire, and purpose that is consonant with the present class-capitalist system. They believe that nothing can change, not even for education, without overthrowing this dominant economic class and replacing it with another. Dewey (2001) argues that if all of this were true, then any coup of the current dominant economic class would also have to bring with it other changes such as changes in the morals, mentality, and culture of society so that this new system/social order can survive and thrive. However, Dewey (2001) found no evidence that an economic change can solely make these other kinds of changes in society. Under the theory about the impotence of education, schools shape morals, mentality, and culture in agreement with the economic class. Therefore, for this argument, education still plays a vital role in social change.
Dewey (2001) argues that schools have the power to lead society down certain paths. Dewey insisted that we must be aware of the different directions in which education can lead society and how it does this. This is so that schools and educators can attempt to move society in the right direction, and so that we do not continue to influence society without knowing how.
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The decisions schools make will also give us a better understanding of the relation between schools and social change. Dewey (2001) states that schools and educators can: (a) continue to influence society without exploring how or why. (b) employ a scientific method of teaching and learning that corresponds with the cultural forces that cause social change. (c) take a conservative approach and make schools a force of maintaining old order and rejecting any new forces that steer society away from this old social order. Dewey (2001) believes that schools should employ scientific methods of teaching and learning. This stresses active learning and teaching students how to think as opposed to what to think. If schools and educators are to take this route, then they must be knowledgeable in how to prepare students to accept social change and make appropriate and positive social changes for the good of society.
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Brennan, J., King, R. and Lebeau, Y. (2004). The Role of Universities in the Transformation of Societies - An International Research Project: Synthesis Report, London: Association of Commonwealth Universities/Centre for Higher Education Research and Information. Calhoun, C. (2006). The university and the public good: Thesis Eleven, 84: 7-43. University Press. New York. Dewey, John. (1916/1944). Democracy and Education. The Free Press. Pp. 1 – 4. ISBN 0-684-83631-9 Dewey, John. (2001). Education and social change. In F. Schultz (Ed.), SOURCES: Notable selections in education (3 rd ed.) (pp. 333 341). New York: McGraw Hill Dushkin 3rd 333-McGraw - Dushkin. Eisendadt, S. N, (1973). Tradition, change and modernity. Krieger Publishing Company. Germany. Giddens, A. (2006). Sociology, Social Change: Cambridge: Polity Press. London. England. Haralambos, M. and Holborn, M (2004). Sociology: Themes and Perspectives. London. Harper Collins Publishers Limited. England. Harper, C. L, (1993). Exploring Social Change. Engelwood Cliffs, New Jersey. U.S.A May, S. and Aikman, S. (2003). Indigenous Education: Addressing Current Issues and Developments. Silver, H. (2007) Higher education and social change: purpose in pursuit? History of Education, Vol 36, Nos 4-5, 535-550. University Press. New York. UNESCO, Education For All Monitoring Report 2008: A Report on the Net Enrolment Rate in Schools Across The Globe. Webb, D. L, Metha, A. and Jordan, K. F. (2010). Foundations of American Education, 6th Edition. Upper Saddle River, New Jersey, Merill, pp. 55 - 91
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