Educacion y sociologia/ Education and Sociology

PDF EBook by Émile Durkheim

EBook Description

This is a remarkable little book. Educacion y sociologia/ Education and Sociology PDF EBookI have been meaning to read some Durkheim for ages – I have two of his books sort of waiting to be read – On Suicide and The Division of Labour in Society.But I just haven’t been able to find time.All the same, this one ticked all of the boxes – it is on education, it is short and I have this window (rather narrow) which this just about fit through.

I’m going to run his arguments here in a slightly different order to what he does.

Most animals don’t really need an education. They live either in isolation or they live in packs, but either way, the rules of the ‘societies’ they form are so simple that they don’t need to be ‘learnt’, but can be transmitted genetically.And for most of human history education could be left, more or less, to tradition.This is substantially different from genetic inheritance, but it reflects a form of society where there are fairly fixed numbers of things that need to be learnt and these can generally be learnt by puberty.At that age you become a real person – an adult – and there is probably some initiation rite, possibly involving your genitals, pain and blood, and you might even get a new name.The point here is that this kind of education doesn’t seem so much like an education to those undergoing it, as the origins of all this stuff are lost in time and it seems like what is learnt is a kind of eternal truth.In such societies you probably are going to think time runs in a circle, for instance.

But we don’t live in that kind of world anymore.In fact, the only thing we can be fairly certain of is that the education that was suitable for our parents will certainly not be suitable for our children - PDF my parents grew up in a house without a telephone, my children have never lived in a house without a computer.

Except, of course, there are a group of people who believe this educating our kids as if we were educating our parents is exactly the kind of education our children need.They rave about falling standards and the need for a return to a time when everyone could spell and read and add up in their heads and know the difference between trigonometry and Tangier and could score goals from the back line and everyone got to marry the Dux of the school.Look, just because a time never existed doesn’t make it any less appealing.

As Durkheim points out a couple of times during this, we now live in a world where we know that how we used to teach no longer works, we just don’t quite know what to replace it with.

Still, the appeal of a world in which there is a single ‘best’ way of educating young people is very strong.We love to think that that there are eternal truths and that teaching these is the best way to educate our kids.This is partly due to the fact that we like to think of ourselves as individuals in a very narrow sense.That is, self-actualising beings – we imagine that we are able to completely create out of nothing the ideal conditions of our own existence.And this gets transferred across when we start thinking about how we would change things like education or society or anything else for that matter.Too often we think that the first instruction on creating 'the best of all worlds' is to being, 'first tear down everything that currently exists'.It is as if we can be Gods – and can create the universe out of nothing.

The problem is that all of the things that are worthwhile and truly human are all of the things that we owe to society.Our language was bequeathed to us and doesn't even make sense without other speakers, the material conditions of our world existed before we were here and will continue on after we are gone.And it is this society that decides what we need to teach the young.

This is part of the reason why education goes on all of the time, from the most primitive of times up until the day we die – but that pedagogy (the study of how people learn and what are the best ways to teach them) only becomes a subject of philosophical interest at very specific times in human history.Like I said before, if you are going to teach from tradition there is no need for pedagogy – for a theory of learning.If you are going to teach in a way that meets the needs of an ever new and changing world, then pedagogy becomes an obsession.

The fact that what we learn is decided by the society we live in is, in part, obvious – at least, in the same way that we can easily see that everyone else’s religion is rubbish, but not see the same about our own – everyone else’s method of educating their young seems absurd to us, while our way seems the only obvious and rational method.To explain this, Durkheim gives the wonderful example of physical education.How in Sparta the point of physical education was to create hard bodies ready for the extremes of war, how in Athens the point was to create beautiful bodies of god like perfection and how today physical education is a kind of hygiene.Except, I’ve just read some Bourdieu – another Frenchman – who also talks about physical education and points to the differences in the point of physical exercise between the various classes in society – with working class men still wanting to be Spartans and working class women wanting to be Athenians and only the middle class fitting into Durkheim’s third category.

Pedagogy is essentially a sociological fact – what is it that the members of society need to know to be able to contribute to society?His point is that the history of the world has been a history of a differentiation of paths towards ‘education’ – where rather than a ‘one size fits all’ education being appropriate, each member of society gets a differentiated education depending on the role they will play in society.This doesn’t need to be as snobbish nor as reactionary as it might sound.That we still need plumbers and pilots is a fact of life, that these people need different educations is likewise a fact of life.

But pedagogy is also a psychological fact.If we knew more about sociology or psychology we would be able to provide children with a much better education – however, the point is that we can’t really wait for these sciences to mature before we start 'fixing' education.We know that many of the ways we go about teaching children today is better suited to another time, an older time – so, even though we possibly don’t know enough to produce a perfect pedagogy, we know enough to know that what we are currently doing isn’t enough.What is absolutely clear is that to understand how best to educate our children is a social question – and social questions are best answered by understanding history.

I really enjoyed this book – much more than I expected to.
Like this book? Read online this: Physical Education For Children, Incursiuni în sociologia artelor.

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