Schools in Society
In order to realize the goals of public education, the school should be a centre of learning that presents a welcoming, caring, and safe environment in the community. Its program should be learner centered and should reflect the school’s understanding of the needs, abilities and interests of the learners. The program should be designed to stimulate, to challenge and to foster creativity. In addition, schools along with other institutions should provide opportunities for adults to take advantage of lifelong learning opportunities.
QUALITY - The quality of the school program must be assured. Although not the only evidence of quality, a key indicator is public and student support. The program should be relevant, with due consideration to goals and objectives, and prepared using an appropriate development process. The education system should also ensure that educators who deliver the program have opportunities to remain current with the best educational knowledge and practice of the time.
LEARNER - In their first contacts with the education system, learners bring their innate curiosity and their desire to explore the environment. In later years, the obligations of learners become more formal. They begin to develop their own beliefs and attitudes and they take on more responsibility for their actions and the direction of their lives.
This increased responsibility requires that students take part in the decision making regarding educational and career goals, actively participate in the process of education, interact positively with fellow learners and educators, and demonstrate a willingness to continue to engage in exploring their environment and the world of ideas. As students progress through the system and beyond, they must be able to demonstrate competence in their subsequent work or studies and exhibit the capability of continuing to learn.
EDUCATOR - The educator’s role is vital in this learning process. Teaching, guiding, encouraging, and challenging students are essential elements in furthering the process. Besides learning the student, the educator should exemplify the principles and goals of the education system and should be familiar with and able to apply current knowledge of effective instruction.
FAMILY - The family must participate in the educational process to help shape and support the goals of the education system and to ensure that children are provided with an environment conducive to meeting their needs. In order to facilitate this, open lines of communication must exist between the school and the family and both must be prepared to take initiatives in the communication process.
COMMUNITY - The community has the responsibility of making certain that schools and other appropriate, related social institutions exits and are well supported. The community must also provide the family and the school with a supportive environment which provides a wealth of opportunities for learners and development outside the confines of the classroom.
ROLE OF THE SCHOOL - In a rapidly changing society, schools have a particular role to play both in preserving that which we hold important as a society and in preparing individuals to deal with the future and with change. For every generation there are particular issues to be addressed. At present, these issues include language rights, the rights of those with special needs, gender equity, multiculturalism, the environment, and the impact of technology.
Issues like these can be addressed, to some degree, in school programs. However, some must also be responded to by adjusting the administrative structure and the operation of the school. Because the school is but one element in society, it is unrealistic to expect that the school on its own can resolve such issues, thus the importance of stressing the shared responsibility for education among the school, the family, and the community.
In order to reflect the goals of the community that it serves, the school must be sensitive to the needs of the workplace and post-secondary institutions as well as to the needs of social, recreational, and special interest groups. For example, schools depend upon the university to ensure that discipline centered programs reflect the present state of knowledge. Similarly, schools depend upon the business community to ensure that programs related to the workplace are up-to-date.
SUMMARY - It is clear that learners, educators, parents, and other members of the community each bear the responsibility of participating in and shaping the public education system for the future. The fulfilment of the complete set of goals outlined in this paper requires cooperation and dedication from all parties.