SCHOOLING AND DEMOCRATIC SOCIETY (TSOC 3000)
Purpose of TSOC 3000
The purpose of this course is to facilitate knowledge of the school as a social institution (including the impact that various social forces have upon it), its purpose in a democratic society, its historical development, and its political dynamics. Included in this purpose is the development of sensitivity and responsiveness to individual and cultural differences present in a diverse student population, the capacity to recognize, analyze, and address systemic injustices in schooling, and a commitment to equity and social justice.
Rationale for TSOC 3000
There exists an intimate relationship between the school and society. An understanding of pedagogical practice isolated from an understanding of the social forces that influence the educational process and its organizational context yields a narrow understanding of that pedagogical practice. Schools are profoundly shaped by larger social, economic, political, and ideological forces. The recognition of this relationship is as old as the ancient Greek notion of paideia, capturing the fundamental nexus between education and culture. American public schools, as well as private institutions, are major social institutions embedded in and influenced by the political economy and ideology of the society whose structures determine schools’ and other institutions’ limits and possibilities. In addition, the dynamic relationship between schools and society is historical. Therefore, it is essential that students understand schools as social institutions and how systemic forces shape curriculum and pedagogical practice through history.
This understanding is especially critical if we are to promote democratic education
in schools. At the core of a
democratic education is the capacity for critical reflection. Reflection is a process
of examination and analysis that is significantly
informed by an understanding of the social-cultural and psychological phenomena that
underlie and contextualize educational ideas, practices and
problems. It can be argued that one of the aims of the study of Foundations of Education
is to understand schooling as it is shaped by
social and ideological forces in order to enhance the reflective practice and thus
decision-making of teachers and other educational
practitioners. A social structural understanding of schools as institutions is a distinct
body of knowledge. This knowledge is necessary
for an understanding of social injustice and in turn an understanding of pedagogical
responses to injustice that seek to produce greater equity.
This understanding fleshes out the ideas of diversity and equity as elements of social
justice. For example, appreciating and valuing
diversity is not necessarily enough to foster an understanding of students in their
socio-cultural, political context and as dynamic
rather than fixed according to their social categorization (e.g., by “race,” ethnicity,
gender, disability, or socio-economic status)
at school. The actions of teachers who focus on socio-cultural and political contexts
will, it is hoped, convey to students that
“different” does not mean “deficient.”
Goals of TSOC 3000
1) The student will be able to describe her/his own complex definition of democracy, and what is essential about democratic education (i.e., cite and explain sources of their definition).
2) The student will be able to analyze and evaluate the relationships between schools and societies (i.e., ideology, schooling, and political economy).
3) The student will demonstrate a willingness to suspend judgment while working to understand and explicitly validate others’ views and beliefs based on their experiences.
4) The student will demonstrate an openness to new challenges, new intellectual conflicts, and counter-evidence in order to promote a climate of fairness.