We always talk about the importance of education and its impact on society, but seldom think about how society affects our educational system. We often ignore the fact that social norms, customs, and traditions do affect education. Society and education are tightly bound entities and hence cannot be separated from each other. Society in itself, is like an educational institution. Social interactions give us the ability to read people. Our customs and values shape our upbringing, thus molding our personalities. We learn from our surroundings and we learn from experience. And we should be grateful to society for providing us with a platform to learn, grow, and enrich ourselves.
Before understanding the influence of society on education, we must define society. Society is an extended social group having a distinctive cultural and economic organization. It is characterized by patterns of relationships between individuals. It is a group of individuals who share a common system of customs, values, and laws. From the definition of society, it is clear that we, human beings are its building blocks. As we interact with people, try to understand their thinking styles and behavioral patterns, we realize that there is much to learn from them. Thus, society becomes one of the greatest facilitators of education.
How Society Influences Education
We cannot restrict the impact of society on the education system alone. We need to understand the role of society in the overall development of an individual. Even before we become a part of the education system, we start learning from our surroundings. And during the process of formal education, we constantly take 'non-formal education' from our social group. We cannot be separated from society, which is why we cannot remain isolated from its influence on our personalities.
Our interactions with our fellow-beings, our observations about their social behavior, and our understanding of social norms prepares us for life. True, educational institutions like schools, colleges, and universities play a very important role in our education. But we cannot ignore the fact that we learn some of the important lessons of life from society. The process of learning continues throughout one's life. It never really ends as opposed to formal/institutional education that ends after obtaining a certain level of knowledge in a field or after a certain number of years. Learning from society, is thus a vital part of education.
The society plays an important role in education and influences it, both positively and negatively. Social inequalities and unhealthy educational practices are some of the negative influences of society on our lives. Customs and traditions that prevent certain sections of society from exercising their fundamental rights shatter the basic ideas of education and social awareness. Some social groups deny women's right to education, some force children to work, depriving them of educational opportunities, and some fail to provide individuals with an environment conducive to their overall development. Education is one of the basic human rights. If social norms deprive certain strata of society from progressing in life and come in the way of social welfare, it defeats the purpose of education.
The knowledge of what is right and wrong is imparted during education. The study of history as well as arts and literature introduces students to the culture and beliefs of the social group they belong to. Through education, the students are introduced to the social norms as well as the customs and traditions of their social group. Thus, the society and social beliefs influence education. Rather, they are a part of it.
Society is made by the people who form it. The beliefs and values of people have a direct impact on the way they think and act. It is the people who shape the system of education. From deciding the educational content suitable for each grade, to devising ways to impart knowledge at different levels of education, it's the people qualified for this role, who do it. So, their thoughts and beliefs, that are in turn shaped by society, are bound to impact what they implement for the education system.
Society is an entity that cannot be separated from us. It is we who make it. It is entirely in our hands to add value to education and affect it in a positive way. Society and education are tied together. Education affects the society as a whole. And the society's influence on education cannot be ignored.