Social Reconstructionism In Education

Read Complete Research Material


Social reconstructionism in Education

Social reconstructionism in Education

Social reconstructionism in Education

Social reconstructionism is a philosophy that emphasizes the addressing of social questions and a quest to create a better society and worldwide democracy. Reconstructionist educators focus on a curriculum that highlights social reform as the aim of education. Theodore Brameld (1904-1987) was the founder of social reconstructionism, in reaction against the realities of World War II. He recognized the potential for either human annihilation through technology and human cruelty or the capacity to create a beneficent society using technology and human compassion. George Counts (1889-1974) recognized that education was the means of preparing people for creating this new social order(Kozol 1975).

Critical theorists, like social reconstructionists, believe that systems must be changed to overcome oppression and improve human conditions. Paulo Freire (1921-1997) was a Brazilian whose experiences living in poverty led him to champion education and literacy as the vehicle for social change. In his view, humans must learn to resist oppression and not become its victims, nor oppress others. To do so requires dialog and critical consciousness, the development of awareness to overcome domination and oppression. Rather than "teaching as banking," in which the educator deposits information into students' heads, Freire saw teaching and learning as a process of inquiry in which the child must invent and reinvent the world(Nietzsche 1996).

For social reconstructionists and critical theorists, curriculum focuses on student experience and taking social action on real problems, such as violence, hunger, international terrorism, inflation, and inequality. Strategies for dealing with controversial issues (particularly in social studies and literature), inquiry, dialogue, and multiple perspectives are the focus. Community-based learning and bringing the world into the classroom are also strategies(Rumberger 1998).

Jonathan Kozol and

Jonathon Kozol's Savage Inequalities (1991) makes a similar claim: the middle and upper classes are willing to allow the poor a certain limited access to the goods of society, but are unwilling to make life chances equal by sharing the wealth or providing truly equal opportunities. Kozol cites as proof the glaring discrepancies between schools in poorer neighborhoods and those in more affluent neighborhoods. I contend that our two-tiered early care and education system is just as unequal. Instead of benefiting from a universal system of early care and education, poor and otherwise "at-risk" children receive Head Start (if they are lucky) and the more advantaged children receive in-home care, center-based care, nursery or preschools--whatever their parents can afford(Kozol 1969).

In a sense, the situation in early care and education is even worse than the "savage inequalities" perpetrated by K-12 public schools. At least a local and state tax base, however inequitable, funds public schooling for children older than 5. In most early care and education situations, however, unless the parent pays or the government subsidizes, the child receives no care or education. At any rate, equality or even equity of opportunities cannot be assumed, never mind the outcomes (for further discussion, see Fine, 1990).

I see a connection between the current narrow view of school "readiness," "the ...
Related Ads