The social dimension of education goes far beyond interpersonal relationships and developing the social skills which will support students throughout their lives. Education itself supports the social system; it supports its citizens' collective ideals and goals. On one hand, education advocates consensus in social thought and cooperation. On the other hand, education encourages people to examine the places where a society may need improvement.
The School-Community Relationship
A school is an integral part of the community. What is taught in a classroom effects students, their parents, teachers, staff, and leaks out into the rest of the community. Acceptable behavior in the school must also translate into acceptable behavior in the community, and vice versa. To develop a symbiotic relationship, schools should work with their community to develop programs that involve students with their community, and to develop programs that involve community members with the school.
Reducing Social Inequality
To diminish social inequality in the outside world, educators must provide equal opportunities for all students inside school walls. Education is intended to level opportunities for vulnerable groups - including students with disabilities, students of lower socio-economic statuses, and students belonging to minority groups - by addressing these inequities. By developing policies and applying extra effort where it is needed, all students can be given a fair chance for success.
Supporting the Diversity of Learners
Not all students have the same backgrounds, the same beliefs or the same life goals. Education needs to be flexible and take diversity into account. Teachers should make an effort to find out what students know before teaching, and then draw on this prior knowledge during lessons. It's the teacher's responsibility to make lessons as socially relevant as possible, linking together society at large with the classroom environment. A large component of education is the maintenance of social order and stability; a teacher should impart the shared norms and values of the society in which she is teaching without stifling cultural differences.
Teaching Social Responsibility
Although school should preserve collective ideals of peace and order in a society, it is also an environment where educators can address areas requiring social change. In addition to reducing social inequity, teachers must also discuss inequity in the classroom. Students must become aware of social problems in their world - including human rights, economic distribution, and social policy - in order to become proactive adults who instigate change. Education creates social awareness of local issues, as well as country-wide and worldwide concerns.
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