Education is one of the important agencies of social control and agent of social change. The word education has been derived from the Latin word “educare” which means to bring the pupil up and develop in them those habits and attitudes which may enable them to further well being. Plato has argued that the aim of education was to develop in the body and in the soul of the pupil all perfection and all the beauty of which they are capable. According to Aristotle, to educate means to develop man’s faculties, especially his mind, so that he may be able to enjoy the contemplation of supreme truth, beauty and goodness. Sumner defined education as an attempt to transmit to the child the mores of the group so that he can learn what conduct is approved and what disapprove, how to behave in all kinds of cases, what he ought to believe and reject.

Durkheim has explained education as “the socialization of the younger generation”. “It is actually a continuous effort to impose on the child ways of seeing and acting which he could not have arrived at spontaneously”, he said.

  1. The role of education as an agent or instrument of social change and social development is widely recognized today. Social change may take place – when humans need changeWhen the existing social system or network of social institutions fails to meet the existing human needs and when new materials suggest better ways of meeting human needs.
  2. According to Maclver social change takes place as a response to many types of changes that take place in the social and nonsocial environment. Education can initiate social changes by bringing about a change in outlook and attitude of man. It can bring about a change in the pattern of social relationships and thereby it may cause social changes.
  3. Earlier educational institutions and teachers used to show a specific way of life to the students and education was more a means of social control than an instrument of social change. Modern educational institutions do not place much emphasis upon transmitting a way of life to the students. The traditional education was meant for an unchanging static society not marked by any change. But today education aims at imparting knowledge. Education was associated with religion.
  4. It has become secular today. It is an independent institution now. Education has been chiefly instrumental in preparing the way for the development of science and technology. Education has brought about phenomenal changes in every aspect of men’s life. Francis J.Brown remarks that education is a process which brings about changes in the behavior of society. It is a process which enables every individual to effectively participate in the activities of society and to make positive contribution to the progress of society.

It the ancient times of preliterate society education was usually informal or orally transmitted. Brothers and sisters and adult kinsmen took a part in transmitting social values regarded as essential. Through observation and direct contract, the child acquired the knowledge of folkways and mores of the group as well as training in the practical technique and skills.

During the middle age, education adopted institutionalized form. Its degree of formality, contents and objectives vary with the type of civilization. In Greek, the curriculum was based on literature, music and gymnastics to which mathematics and historical subjects were added. In India, Upanishad, Vedas, Puranas etc. were the main subjects. The education was largely restricted to small minority.

The beginning of secular education started with the growth of science, commerce and industry and with the birth of Renaissance and the protestant Reformation. However, it was not until nineteenth century that secular education be came widely accepted. Along with secularization, education also became popularized and was no longer restricted to only a few people.

Education has great social significance:

According to Rousseau the objective of education is to direct the child’s natural inclinations wisely in order to train properly. He also advocated popular education.

According to Pestalozzi education should aim at the harmonious development of all the faculties, the ultimate objective being the improvement of the lot of the masses.

According to John Dewey, the father of the progressive movement of the education, has argued that education is the living of the life, not preparation of life.

August Comte has argued that education should aim at cultivating sympathy for and understanding our fellowmen.

Herbert Spencer asserted that education should prepare the individuals for a well rounded life in
society. Lester. F. Ward regarded education as a means of social progress.

According to Sumner, education should produce in the individual a “well developed critical faculties” which will prevent him from following uncritically traditional way but in stated will enable him to act rationally by judgement. He however did not regard education as panacea for all ills.

According to Giddings: education should aim to develop in individual “self-confidence and self-control, emancipate them from superstitious belief and ignorance, give them knowledge make them think realistically, and help them become enlightened citizens”.

“According to Durkheim, the aim of education is the socialization of the younger generation”.

According to Johann Amos the methods of instruction should be consistent with the mental development of the child and that the subject matter should be adopted to his interest.

John Locke, the English philosopher, wrote that education should be aim at mental discipline and that it should be secular rather than religious.

Some of the important points regarding the objective of education may be concluded as follows :
– To complete the socialization process
– Transmission of cultural heritage
– Reformation of attitude
– Occupational prestige
– To instill the sense of competition

On the basis of above mentioned discussion it may be said that education contributes too much in the maintenance of social order and values. The collective conscience of the people is regarded and preserved by the education. It plays significant roles in both the formal and informal ways of social control.

Critics :

  1. As long as there’s social and economic inequality in society, education by itself cannot create truly meritocratic society. It depends on familial background. Education indeed brings mobility and the inequality is only meritocratic. Benefits are to those with high achievement motivation.
  2. Pierre Bourdieu: Education has functioned more like a filtering out system rather than encouraging mobility. Educational curriculum is based on culture of dominant classes. Children in upper class have cultural capital i.e. both ability and motivation. Lower Class has Low mobility, culture differs from reality.
  3. All learning is abstract as we move higher. Ability to understand abstract ideas is dependent on linguistic ability. Working class has low linguistic ability; so lack of ability also. It is called cultural capital because it’s a kind of investment which assures profits. Educational performance is linked with class background. Children of uneducated parents have high dropout rate. Middle class children stay longer in education system. They end up in high rewarding careers. So ever generations, existing class structure gets replicated. So education only has limited ability for increasing mobility as long as social and eco inequality exists.

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