Sociological foundation can be defined as a course or courses providing a foundation for understanding the organization and functioning of human societies, social institutions, and groups. Schools have the mission of preparing children for life. In order for schools to be in a position to accomplish this mission with any degree of success, they must be highly focused and clearly organized.

Curriculum provides the focus and the requisite organization. The Curriculum is simply the plan by which schools fulfill their responsibilities on behalf of children and society as well. A curriculum represents a society’s expectations of what its schools should teach or develop in the future generations of that society. Therefore each society, through its representatives, chooses what should be included in or excluded from the experiences to be provided to its children in schools.

What is included is therefore a reflection of the society’s values and expectations of what is desirable; each society would make these choices taking into account its demands, culture, aspirations and value system.The relationship of curriculum and society is mutual and encompassing. Hence, to be relevant, the curricula should reflect and preserve the culture of society and its aspirations. At the same time, society should also imbibe the changes brought about by the formal institutions called schools. Some questions for consideration are;

  • What is the difference between education and schooling?
  • What is a developmental task?
  • Why is it important for kids to learn these tasks in our society?
  • How would you describe the rate and direction of change?
  • What knowledge is most worthwhile for learners? Why?
  • How are the national task forces influencing schools today?


  • A collection of individuals who have organized themselves into a distinct group,


  • An accepted way of life.
  • Culture can be defined as the distinctive way of life of a group of people, their complete design for living.
  • That complex whole which includes knowledge, belief, art,moral, law, custom and any other capabilities and habits acquired by man as a member of society.
  • It controls what we choose to teach.

Culture includes a vast array of easily observed facets of living, such as;

  • material product
  • political and social organizations
  • characteristic vocations
  • modes of dress, food, games, music
  • child rearing practices
  • religious and patriotic rituals
  • A kind of social cement that consists of the characteristic habits, ideals, attitudes, beliefs, and ways of thinking of a particular group of people.

Cultural Classification

  • Universals: generally held by the entire population.
  • Specialties: found within sub-groups of the society.
  • Alternatives: violate accepted norms.

Heterogeneous culture

  • Many differing people coming together.

Purpose of Education:

A Cultural Need Purpose of Education:

  • Transition of culture (values, beliefs, and norms of a society)
  • Dewey said that education is the means of perpetuating and improving society.

It is up to educators, particularly those in charge of subject matter, to judge which content and activities enhance individual and societal growth and overall improves society.

Society and Culture

  • Are they shapers of the curriculum?
  • Curriculum developers need to be students of social change.

Social Foundations of Schooling

What are social factors that educators should keep in mind when planning the school’s curriculum?

  • Social setting
  • Relationships between schools and society
  • Social implications of knowledge and change
  • Aims of education
  • Reform strategies

Society, Education, and Schooling

  • Schooling becomes more important as societies become more complex and as the frontiers of knowledge expand.
  • In technological societies people acquire different proficiencies and abilities; no individual can range over the entire body of complex knowledge or expect to be proficient in all areas of learning.

Schooling occurs when society or a group or an individual sets up a curriculum to educate people, usually the young. Schooling can become systematic and thorough. Sometimes education systems can be used to promote doctrines or ideals as well as knowledge, and this can sometimes lead to abuse of the system.

Social Skills

The ability to:

  • work independently and co-operatively
  • respect others and accept responsibility
  • understand and respect rules and conventions
  • resolve conflicts
  • contribute to the well-being of the community and environment
  • engage positively in leisure activities.

Values and Attitudes

In society where religious values are the most important, education will be mainly religious. In countries where political values have priorities, education will be primarily political. Values also determine what parts of the cultural heritage will be chosen as educational content.

a. Positive values and attitudes to self, to others and to our environment are of fundamental importance and should be promoted across the curriculum.

Examples are:

  • Self-esteem, self-confidence and self-reliance.
  • Love of learning, an enquiring mind, independence of thought, perseverance, pride in achievement, initiative and a readiness to tackle problems and challenges.
  • Valuing all individuals regardless of gender, race.ability, material status or other differences.
  • Appreciation of the achievements and endeavors of others.
  • Respect for all cultures, races and backgrounds.
  • Valuing family and friends.
  • A sense of responsibility for the community and local environment.

Values and attitudes such as these should be made explicit and promoted whenever possible, bearing in mind that the example of teachers in this area is of crucial importance

  • Attitudes are caught rather than taught.

b. Students should also be provided with the opportunity to explore and clarify their values with respect to a range of issues such as:

  • environmentalis
  • justice and fairness
  • political, social and economic issues
  • quality of life

Why We Have Schools

  • It is important for everyone, teachers, parents, and citizens to consider the purposes of schooling in our society.
  • Understandings and skills cannot be left to chance incomplex societies. Schools are required.
  • Members of complex societies typically hold very strong and diverse opinions about schools and learning experiences.

Purposes of Schooling

Schools exist within the social context. Societal culture affects and shapes schools and their curricula. Schools have many different goals and purposes. When a goal is prioritized, it is usually at the expense of another goal. The three general purposes of schools are,

  1. Transmitting Culture The social and cultural influences that affect curriculum are. evident in both conscious and unconscious ways and their impact is certainly profound. Education manifests through the curriculum and reflects the society and culture. That reflection is a result of curriculum developers being an integral part of that society and culture in both of the above ways. In this way the curriculum more reflects society and then society leads to change.
  2. Political Socialization The process of preparing students to accept and participate in the political system of their society is called political socialization.The way students are socialized varies significantly among societies.Many times what is taught in schools represents the views and values of the dominant class.
  3. Cultural Socialization Cultural socialization is a process that provides students with knowledge regarding the symbol systems
    and overall ways of their culture.How much of a school’s curriculum should emphasize a core that binds everyone together versus a curriculum that represents diversity?

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