Schools as Total Institutions

Schools as Total InstitutionsIn our previous post Why is School Important?, we discussed how school is a primary agent of socialization.  Todays post discusses the diverse ways schools attempt to de-socialize and re-socialize children.  When schools work to do so, they are termed  “total institutions”.

Total Institutions have four distinctive characteristics with respect to education.

First: teachers supervise all aspects of daily life; going to school means being separated from family and becoming a part of a new environment. Students are no longer under the supervision of a parent, rather under that of a teacher whose rules differed from those at home.

Second: the school is a rigid system which provides students with a standardized and organized way of life; At home, schedules are not as stringent or fixed as it is at school where events are scheduled for certain times.

Third: formal rules and daily schedules dictate when, where, and how students perform virtually every part of their daily routines; as previously mentioned, the rules in the classroom differ from those at home. Rules at school are in place to control what students do, how they do it and when they did it, as well as, with whom; whereas at home, routines are a little less structured.

Finally: a single rational plan exists to fulfill the particular goal of the institution.

‘De-socialization’ is the idea that individuals can ‘un-learn’ ideas and values, which most often takes place within the educational environment. This occurs when children, who share different traditions, beliefs and cultures, begin to unlearn what they have learned in the home.  Students are eventually able to recognize “bad” values, such as racism and sexism, and unlearn them. School helps students do this by exposing them to these topics and issues and re-teaching them.

We see this process in our schools but what happens to students who immigrate and have not been exposed to western culture? Would this work when students have reached an older age or would the process of de-socialization and re-socialization still apply?

Let us know what your thoughts are on socializing students.  What methods seem to work?

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