AP/SOCI 3630 6.0A
The Sociology of Education
November 20, 2013
School as a Social System
Defining a social system:
- two components: social and system
- Social is defined in relation to society and how it is organized-> a
community of individuals and their cooperation, interaction, and
- Society is more than the sum of its members-> the role of culture,
environment, social structures.
What is meant by ‘system'?
- A system is an arrangement of interrelated parts.
- It is the whole system, not the parts alone, that counts…
- All living systems are classified as “open systems”
- This means, that they are dependent
Various Parts of a System
- A system is composed of regularly interacting parts that form the emergent
- This whole is influenced by and composed of:
- 1) Boundary- all systems have a border or boundary that differentiates
them from others. Boundaries may be physical, social, cultural,
- 2) Purpose and Goals- all living systems have a purpose, or a reason for
- 3) Inputs- materials and energy must be imported from the environment
e.g. money, equipment…
- 4) Transformation- the input must be transformed into other forms of
services and products…
- 5) Outputs- materials and energy are exported to the environment…
- 6) Feedback- knowing whether or the system is on target
- 7) Environment- everything outside the systems boundary is the
environment, i.e., wider society.
SCHOOLAS A SOCIAL SYSTEM: An Evaluation
- School is rooted in society
- School has certain goals and objectives: i.e., educating students
- It receives students, educates them and gives them back to society Questions of interest: (line of arguments)
- Is the process as linear and simple as the system’s theory makes it
- What about relations of power?
- How about issues around the production of knowledge, ideologies, and
EXAMPLES FROM CANADIAN EDUCATION SYSTEMS
- Aboriginal Education
- A holistic notion of education (no separation between mind/body/soul)
- An education to fulfill material needs
- An education for cultural survival
- Emphasizing the interconnectivity between the environment and people
- Emphasizing the unity of mind and body
- Emphasizing notions of spirituality (not to be mistaken with established
- An informal system of socilozation
Early forms of education in Canada: ABORIGINAL EDUCATION
- After the confederation, the British North American Act (1867) gave their
federal government jurisdiction over “Indians and lands reserved for
Indians’, including the formal education of aboriginal children.
- An education established by missionaries, priests, and religious orders
- Its main purpose was to replace indigenous knowledge’s with a
- Emphasizing Christianity and Christian morality
- Teaching European concepts and worldviews
- Replacing indigenous languages with European languages
- Aboriginal children taken from parents and communities and placed in
residential schools which were supported by government agencies and
run by the churches.
- A clear example of Canada’s assimilation of Aboriginal people
- The idea was that children needed to be rescued from “evil surroundings”.
- Residential schools were to re-socialize native children through
separation, education, and finally assimation into the dominant culture.
- Children were forbidden to speak their language, practice their
traditions/culture and learn their history.
- Characterized by mismanagement and abuse, more concerned with
“saving souls” than with literacy education
- Overwork, overcrowding, rampant, ill health, high death rate, hunger and