Social forces

Social forces and trends are continually changing. They are also effecting schools’ curriculum and planning. Here are some of areas of social forces:

1) Social goals
2) Conceptions of culture
3) the Tension between cultural uniformity and diversity
4) Social pressures
5) Social change
6) Future planning

When building a curriculum or instruction, these ten social forces should be taken into consideration:

1) Increasing Ethnic and Cultural Diversity- an educator should emphasize the “salad bowl” theory over the “melting pot” and preserve and share cultural diversity, as the population of schools continues to be more and more diverse.

2) The Environment- curriculum should address important environmental issues such as pollution and overpopulation to raise awareness and prevent further damage.

3) Changing Values and Morality- there has been an inconsistent cycle of frugality versus overconsumption and elders transmitting values to the next generations seems somewhat lost. Increasing drug and alcohol abuse as well as a high divorce rate are evidence. Students admitted to a much higher level of cheating on tests or stealing from a store. Teachers can help ameliorate this by implementing character education (Kohlberg, equity/justice/caring/empathy) but some parents and teachers oppose this, thinking it best that values and morality be left to the home sphere.

4) Family- Family dynamic is changing now more than ever: single-parent families, grand-parents as guardians, same-sex parents, and stepparent families are more common than ever. Families are not as close as before, not closely tied to community, mothers are working more, family can be spread over a large geographical area. The roles of mothers, fathers, and families overall have changed.

5) Microelectronics Revolution- technology is more important now than ever and ever-changing, with a vast array of available educational aids. Computers, software, programs, and other technologies have changed the way people learn- as well as the time and place! Computer literacy should be included and students who are not familiar with technologies available should be exposed in a structured and nonthreatening way.

6) Changing World of Work- the boom in technology has greatly changed the job market and will continue to do so, again reinforcing the importance of technological education for all students. Teachers should encourage and enable students to become self-directed life-long learners.

7) Equal rights- women and minority groups have had success in seeking equal rights and creating more equality. However, with N.C.L.B. there is again more inequality because of the uniform standards applied globally. Students with learning difficulties or language barriers are getting left behind, and some students with no handicaps are being placed in special education classes. Schools try to promote social change and equal opportunity, but somehow end up often furthering the existing problems.

8 ) Crime & Violence- there is much more school vandalism, more violence including armed robberies, burglaries, aggravated assaults, and rapes at schools. Violence and gangs create unsafe neighborhoods, and the issues in school are ever-more complicated with too many instances of school shootings.

9) Lack of Purpose & Meaning- changes in family dynamics, rampant corruption and violence, poverty, fluctuation in economy, rapid changes in technology increasing disparities, crime, the lack of adult guidance, and injustice leave many students feeling a lack of purpose or meaning. Resulting concerns include: depression, eating disorders, violent and criminal behavior, alcohol and drug abuse, academic failure or drop-out, suicide, and teenage pregnancies and STDs.

10) Global Interdependence- international relations are extremely important and continue to be more and more so; educators must help students understand others cultures and values, economics, and way of life so they can participate in a global community.

Questions to think about:

What are some ways that teachers in any given content area can adjust their curriculum to reflect these important forces?

What social forces are currently heavily impacting the lives of your students? Are they all important at this time?

How can you help students be more aware of these and share what they are personally faced with?

How can your curriculum bring about positive changes that can impact the greater community and nation?

What social forces are you most concerned with? Are there any that you are uncomfortable or unfamiliar with? Educators must be aware of these forces and have up-to-date, accurate knowledge about them.

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