Wile family is the first and most basic of the primary groups with which a child is associated, peer group interactions soon become frequent-the playgroup for the small child and the teenage clique for the adolescent. The peer group provides significant learning experience in how to interact with others, how to be accepted by others and how to achieve a status in a circle of friends.

Functions of Per Group

Peers are relatively equal as contrasted with the relationship between parents and their children or between teachers and their students. Parents and teachers sometimes can force young children to obey rules they neither understand nor like. The true meaning of exchange, cooperation and equality can be learned more easily in the peer setting. Peer groups increase in importance as the child grows up, gaining maximum influence in adolescence.

Peer Culture and the School

Educators are concerned with the workings and influence of the peer group. A study by James Cleman examined the functioning of adolescent society in high schools and found that there is a strong student culture in the schools, one that is different from adult culture.

No matter what the unique climate of the school or the parent’s socioeconomic status, the most popular male student is oriented to the athletic image. For girls, good grades are relatively unimportant. It is more important for them to appear smarter. However, all the students in school, regardless of their status, had their own group of friends and each group paid little attention to others. It is extremely important to have friends; in fact this has been the single most important thing in the school. Because having no friends means having no one to be with in the hallways or classrooms, no one to walk with to class, no one to talk to, no one to eat with. As one student said, when I didn’t have any friend. I hated this place and another stated “you cannot go to high school without friends.”

Friendship Patterns

The students walk, talk, cat and spend most of their time with a few friends. This is particularly noticeable in the cafeteria. It is more important to have friends and be accepted by at least one group than to have good grades. The worst thing that could happen according to one student was to “walk around the halls alone.”

Researches support the conclusion that peer cultureconstitutes a major aspect of the socialization experience ofthe students in the school. Peer relationships play animportant part in determining what happens in school and the.classroom. David and Roger Johnson have identified a varietyof actions such as the following that teachers should take toconduct activities that encourage students to work and learncooperatively. Such as,

  • Stress joint rather individual work whenever possible
  • Teach inter personal and small group skills.
  • Assign children responsibility for the welfare of their peers.
  • Encourage students to support and accept otherstudents.
  • Provide experiences with success in cooperative work.
  • Structure opportunities for pro social activities.
  • Counteract peer pressure for anti social behaviour.
  • Encourage older children to interact with supervise younger children.
  • Encourage students to exchange information with peers.

Participation in Extra Curricular Activities

One of the major aspects of peer culture in the school is to involve participation in extra curricular activities. Peers continuously show that students consider their involvement with others in extra curricular activities to be a highlight of their school experience. Many educators believe that this participation is a positive force in the lives of a large proportion of students. There is considerable evidence that participation in extra curricular activities affects a number of social and behavioural outcomes-especially athletics, service and leadership activities and music. All these contribute to the development of higher level of educational and occupational aspirations and attainment. Higher educational and occupational aspiration in turn contribute to higher levels of income as an adult. All these effects are transmitted through peer associations contacts with teachers and encouragement from parents.

Encouraging and facilitating the student participation in extra curricular activities may be one of the most affective actions that teachers and administration can take to help and improve students aspiration and attainment.

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