The Relationship between Education and Society
Education is sees as a means of cultural transmission from one generation to another in any given society. Society is defined as the whole range of social relationships of people living in a certain geographic territory and having a sense of belonging to the same group.
The relationships between the two concepts are so strong that it is not possible to separate them because what happens to one affects the other. Educational institutions are micro-societies, which reflect the entire society. The education system in any given society prepares the child for future life and instills in his those skills that will enable him to live a useful life and contribute to the development of the society.
Education as a social phenomenon does not take place in a vacuum or isolation; it takes place in the society and this normally begins from the family, which is one of the social institutions responsible for the education of the child.
Let me discuss the relationship between education and the society in the following points:
- Complimentary functions
Education is seen in particular as a means of cultural transmission from one generation to another. The parents are the first teachers of the child and they still maintain an educative function throughout the early and formative years of the child. In most of the developing nations of the world, including Nigeria, parents are responsible for sending their children or wards to school. Since these nations are undergoing rapid socioeconomic and political changes, they witness special problems in evolving the appropriate education system, which will be able to produce the adequate manpower needs in all the segments of the society.
Schools are established in many societies of the world so as to instill in the pupils those skill’s which will afford them the opportunity of taking their rightful positions in the society; but this function cannot be adequately accomplished without the assistance of the home because both the home and the school perform complimentary functions in the moral and intellectual development of the child. This means that the child cannot be educated in a vacuum or in isolation.
Therefore, for a child to be educated there must be interaction between him and his physical and social environment. By this we mean that education is the development of personality. It is something which goes on both inside and outside the home and in the school. In other words, education is an activity of the whole community.
This means that education is used in the transmission of the cultural values. One important implication of looking at education as the transmitter of cultural values is the fact that education can be influenced by the culture of the society in which it takes place. For this reason, one may infer that for a child to be educated, he must be influenced by his environment and, in turn, be capable of influencing it.
Education depends on the total way of life of a people in a society. This suggests that the type of education provided will differ from society to society. Besides, each society has her own norms, values and her own ideal persons who stand our clearly for the younger generations to emulate.
Since all these societies are not the same, then it means that a man regarded as a hero in one society because of his contributions to educational development of the society may not be regarded as such in another society where education is not given priority in the scheme of their daily activities. It, therefore, implies that children had different people to emulate in different societies.
- Agent of Change
It is logical to expect that the type of education given in each society will change from time to time as the society changes. It has been argued that education is one of the causes of social change in the society, but another school of thought is of the opinion, that educational change tends to follow other social changes, rather than initiate them.
Exceptional individuals invent new techniques and propound new values for their society. These ideas arise from the impact of men on his culture, but do not change the culture until they are shared and transmitted by a social group. In his own submission, Boocock (1972) noted that societies undergoing rapid social change or modernization have special problems in adapting the educational system to the manpower needs of the world. They often suffer shortages of persons with special kinds of learning in engineering and other technical fields and may have difficulty in keeping persons with valuable skills once they have completed their education.
- Hierarchical Order
Another area of the relationship between education and society is through the arrangement of the entire society into a hierarchical order that is, through the social structure in which education plays a prominent and significant role in fixing educated individuals into social classes. Education is the process of preparing people to fit into this complex social structure and to play particular social roles as members of more than one institutional group. Individuals have to learn to be fathers or mothers, school teachers or civil servants, shopkeepers or priests. They have to learn to keep the law, to understand how they are governed and to be prepared to try and change the social moves when they see that they can be improved.
- Preparation for future
Education as a social phenomenon is also concerned with the preparation of the child for his future occupation in life. This is one of the main economic functions of education and this is in the interest of both the nation and the individual. Through education an individual knows the structure of the society and the different types of relationships that exit among those structures in the society. The child is taught how to perform different roles within the social structure in the society.
These roles are inter-related. For example, the role of a father is a relational role; a father could be a son to another person. So, education allows the child to perform his role adequately within the social structure in the society. The child is taught how to perform different roles within the social structure in the society. These roles are inter-related. For example, the role of a father is a relational role; a father could be a son to another person. So education allows the child to perform his role adequately within the social structure in the society. In addition, the child is able to understand the network of inter-relationships among the different social institutions that make up the society.
Also of importance are the different functions that are performed by each social institution in the society. Like an individual, each institution has definite functions to perform in the society and the functions of each institution differ from one to another even though they are complimentary.
- Social Interaction
Another aspect of the relationship between education and society is in the area of social interaction. Social interaction may be defined as any relation between people and groups, which changes the behaviour of the people in the group. There is a need for social interaction by the child before he could acquire the culture of his society. This interaction in the society is therefore part of the child’s education, provided that, that type of interaction brings about positive changes in the child’s behaviour in a right direction as required by the educational system.
One important point here is that the child has been taking part in group interaction long before he starts to attend school and the most common among these group interactions are within the family and the peer-group. These groups in which the child interacts give him the opportunity to learn from the wider circles in the society. From his social contacts, he learns his roles in different groups and this influences his personality development.