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Education and Schooling

Education and Schooling

Author: Paul Hannan

Recognize the different rules and principles related to education and schooling.

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Source: Intro Music by Mark Hannan; Public Domain All Images from; Public Domain

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[MUSIC PLAYING] Welcome to this episode of Sociology, Studies of Society. Today's lesson is on Education and Schooling. As always, don't be afraid to pause, stop, rewind, or even fast forward to make sure get the most out of this tutorial.

So today, we're going to look at education and schooling. So let's start with a definition of education. Education is something that is happening to us all the time, all around us. And what it is in sociological terms is it's a social institution, and what it does is it gives instruction to members of society. You learn how to do things, how to live, certain skills, your roles in society, what are cultural norms, all those things are done through education.

And education in this grand sense can be formal or informal. It could be a conversation with a co-worker when you're refilling your water bottle, or it might be in a classroom. Education itself can be either formal or informal.

Specifically, though, schooling is what we often think of when we hear the word education, and schooling is the formal institution of education. And again, it's giving instruction to members of society, but it's formally done, so it's under the guidance of professionals. Whether it's an actual teacher, or a professor, or a paraprofessional, or the administrators, all those people are professionals, and the education is in some way happening underneath their guidance. So even in these online tutorials here, your learning is happening in this formal structure, and you're underneath the guidance of myself as the person creating these tutorials for you, and then the web-based content side where the assessments are.

So let's flash back a little bit here and look at a brief history of schooling in the United States America. Originally, United States of America, we're going to go back to starting at right before the US actually exists as a nation and we're going to look at colonial times. Now, schooling in colonial times was not systematically for everyone. Schooling basically translated to, if you had money to pay for schooling, if your family was wealthy and well-off, you might get schooling.

So schooling only really reached about 10% of the population, give or take. And there three focuses for schooling during colonial times, reading, writing, and religion. So you notice there, modern times, religion really isn't necessarily a normal principal founding our educational system here in the United States of America, and there's also no math in that system there.

So let's jump forward a little bit here, the early Americas. So right as America has become an actual nation. The Founding Fathers really encouraged education. They saw education as an important tool for having a successful nation, and more specifically, any successful democracy.

So with that encouragement, enrollment and the access to education has been increasing, was increasing in early America. That being said, it's still a relatively limited number of people that get access to schooling in these early American times. And really, about 10% of the population are the only ones who can read at this stage.

So let's jump forward a little more. Industrial revolution. So as the Industrial Revolution happens, education, the history of schooling really changes in America. And there are a couple different things that are coming together to create this.

You have the actual Industrial Revolution was the idea that now, we're moving to this economy that's based on production, and it's done in factories, and it happens in cities, mainly. Well, those kind of things are forcing things together to change the way education is. John Dewey was really an important person for this.

He's a prolific writer about education during this time, and he's what's considered the founder of progressive education. Progressive education is really the idea that education should be relevant to learners. So regardless of what you're studying or how you're studying, it has to connect to the learners.

Progressive education as a movement still exists today, and many people still ascribe to progressive education. And progressive education is always changing, because what is relevant to learners is always changing. There have been some critiques, though, of Dewey, saying that the reason why he thought it had to be relative was actually he was trying to teach the social norms of kids working in factories when they grew older, that being in time and those kind of things were actually what John Dewey was talking about. I personally don't ascribe to that viewpoint, but it's some of the criticism of him out there.

Now, one thing that's happening with this Industrial Revolution and this progressive education movement is that all of a sudden, kids are going to school in droves. And this is where you start to see states pass mandatory education laws. And these are just laws that are requiring children to attend school.

I think currently our laws that kids in the United States of America, they have to attend schools until they're at least 16, or until they get their eighth grade education done. And that's true in any state of the union. Now, there are a couple of different reasons why this education law was passed, or series of laws, I guess, because originally, they came from the states.

If you have an optimist's view of it, you can say that, well, now that our society is progressing, we're having more wealth, we're seeing the value of education, and we need to make sure kids are educated so they can jump into the world, into the workforce really effectively. And then there's a pessimist view, a skeptic's view saying that the reason why mandatory education laws started to exist is because it was a way to keep children busy now that they weren't needed on the farms, to keep them out of the factory and out of competing for work with other people in the job market.

Let's jump forward a little more. post-World War II schooling. In general society in America, post-World War II, you see huge increase of equal opportunity. And the idea basically behind equal opportunity is everyone has a chance and everyone is treated equally. That doesn't mean treated equally in their outcome, but treated equally in the process and given the chance to be successful.

Now, in education, this came in a couple different ways. One of the major ways was the Equal Education Opportunities Act of 1974. Whether we're looking at that specific act or other places where equal opportunities are coming together, what is really happening in schooling here is you're trying to make sure that everyone has access to schooling, and that this access doesn't just mean that there's a school there, it means that you actually have a chance to succeed, an equal chance to succeed. And this, not surprisingly, coincides with the Civil Rights Movement. And so you're seeing the desegregation of the South, and you're seeing the desegregation in schools, to say that when the schools are separated, the African-American school is receiving considerably less funds than the white school, and so that separation is unequal, and it's creating unequal opportunity.

So today's takeaway message. Today, we learned about education, and that's just the institution that gives instruction to members of society, and schooling is the formal educational system of instruction. We also learned about mandatory education laws in our process of going through a brief history of schooling in the United States, and those are laws requiring children to attend school until the age of 16 or through the eighth grade.

Through this process, we also learned about equal opportunity, and that's a principle that calls for everyone to have a chance and be treated equally. We also looked a little bit at John Dewey, who is an American philosopher who really reformed education to have this progressive education. And progressive education is really this movement to make sure that education is relevant to people in their lives. Well, that's it for this lesson. Good work, and hopefully you'll be seeing me on your screen again soon. Peace.

Terms to Know

A social institution that transmits skills, knowledge, cultural norms, and the basic facts important to a society.

Equal Opportunity

A principle advocating for the equality of life chances.

Mandatory Education Laws

American education laws requiring that children attend school until the age of sixteen or through the eighth grade.

Progressive Education

The idea that schools should make an effort so that education is relevant to people's lives.


A system of formal educational instruction.

People to Know
John Dewey

American philosopher whose ideas were influential in education reform.