|Employer:||Department of Education, AFSET, Faridabad|
|Languages:||Hindi and English|
|Sociology Of Education|
by letare hemrom
1.1 Learning Objectives
1.2 Sociology of education: concept and origin
1.2.1 What is sociology?
1.2.2 What is education?
1.3 Relation between sociology and education
1.3.1 Social Reproduction
1.3.2 Structural Function and Social Reproduction
1.3.3 Conflict theory and Social Reproduction
1.3.4 Concept of Cultural Capital
1.4 Issues in Sociology of Education
1.4.5 Family Structure
1.4.6 Cultural Diversity
1.5 Let us Sum Up
1.7 Reference and Further Readings
1.8 Check your Progress :The Key
Education as a process and an idea exists within a societal context. Whether formal or informal learning, education is organized in the society by individuals who are members of a particular group, community, states and nation. So, you understand the significance of the society in educational transactions and organizing curricular events. While pursuing your Bachelor of education you must have studied the Philosophical foundations, Psychological foundations and sociological foundations of education. In this unit we will deal with the sociology of education in details; and the relation between sociology and education. This will be useful in managing educational institutions. In this unit we discuss two broad issues i) the concept of sociology of education and ii) the relation between sociology and education.
In order to study this unit, you must recall the educational philosophies and psychological foundations.Go through page 14 of book Philosophy of education by T.W.Moore .This is an online book you can find this book in Google book search http://books.google.com .It would be useful to go through these topics before you start this course.
| 1.2 Sociology of education: concept and origin|
The sociology of education is the study of how social institutions and individual experiences affects education and its outcome. Education is It is concerned with all forms of education ie formal and informal education systems of modern industrial societies. It is relatively a new branch and two great sociologist Émile Durkheim and Max Weber were the father of sociology of education. Émile Durkheim's work on moral education as a basis for social solidarity is considered the beginning of sociology of education.
After the second world war it gained entity as separate subject of knowledge.Technological advancement and engagement of human capital(work force) in industrialization America and Europe gave rise to the social mobility .Now it is easier to move up to the upper strata of society gaining technical skills,knowledge.People who were farmer earlier became worker in factories.In that period social mobility was at top gear.And sociologist began to think that education promotes social mobility and undermines the class stratification.
It gained interest and lot of sociological studies done on the subject.Statistical and field research across numerous societies showed a persistent link between an individual's social class and achievement, and suggested that education could only achieve limited social mobility . Sociological studies showed how schooling patterns reflected, rather than challenged, class stratification and racial and sexual discrimination . But sociology of education is a branch of study and very helpful in finding the relation between sociology and education.
The sociology of education is the study of how social institutions and forces affect educational processes and outcomes, and vice versa. By many, education is understood to be a means of overcoming handicaps, achieving greater equality and acquiring wealth and status for all (Sargent 1994). Learners may be motivated by aspirations for progress and betterment. Education is perceived as a place where children can develop according to their unique needs and potentialities.The purpose of education is to develop every individual to their full potential.
|1.2.1 What is Sociology?|
We all have studied sociology little bit in bachelor programme in Education.Here we will refresh our knowledge. The word Sociology originates from latin prefix :socius, "companion"; and the suffix -ology, "the study of", from Greek lógos, "knowledge" .
Sociology is the systematic study of society.Sociology encompasses all the elements of society ie social relation, social stratification, social interaction, culture .Scope of sociology is wide and it ranges from the analysis of interaction of two anonymous persons to the global social interaction in global institution. like UNESCO UN etc.
Sociology can perhaps be best regarded as an attempt to name that which secretely keeps society going ( Whitty and Young,1976).
|1.2.2 What is education?|
We all have studied Education in details in bachelor programme in Education.Here we will refresh our knowledge. Education is a broad concept, referring to all the experiences in which learners can learn something.It is a social endeavor designed to get the maximum from the ability of each of the member of the society .Education is covers both the teaching and learning of knowledge, values. It thus focuses on the cultivation of skills(communication,intellectual,specialized skills),advancement of knowledge and spreading of secular view(values).
Education consists of systematic instruction, teaching and training by professional teachers. This consists of the application of pedagogy.Teachers depends on many different disciplines for their lessons like psychology, philosophy, information technology, linguistics, biology, and sociology.
So far we have learned about the Education and Sociology and the concept of Sociology of education.Before we proceed further let us work out the following exercise.
| 1.3 Relation between sociology and education|
As a school teacher and administrator all of you are living in a small society known as school. You will find various relation(learner and teacher, peer group, boys and girls, different social background etc), values(religion and culture) in in educational institutions.So we must know the pattern,concerns of this society for effective educational outcome.
The relation between sociology and education has always been a subject of debate.One concept says education is meant to overcome the inequalities of society whereas the other says the prime function of education is to promote the equilibrium status of the society ie it it tries to maintains equality/inequality whatever state is prevalent in the society.
The sociologist who favours second theory says that education is a social effort hence it runs the way society wants.And society moves in the direction the dominant group of society wants.According to them the second theory is a propagated myth by the promoter of first theory.The first theory is said positive and second is leveled as negative thought.Although there is conflict which theory is most relevant ; one thing is crystal clear that education is social effort and it reflects rather than directs society.If education is said to directs society it is true only because there is a social force favouring this.
Both the theory has a role to play in defining the relation between sociology and education.This relation plays a great role in learning outcome.So it is a matter of great interest for the people like you; who is directly linked to educational institutions.
We know that every living entity has a reproduction syatem.The same way, according to social reproduction theory the society has also a reproduction system.Society wants to reproduce itself as it is.
Society has its institutions through which it reproduce itself Family,Economy,Government,Religion,Education.All institutions are meant to socialize its member. This means these institutions trains(socialize) the members Education is one of the most powerful social institution as it has access to the children. Right from the beginning in their life education institutions has great control. Education institutions decides the future perspective of the children.
|1.3.2 Structural Function and Social Reproduction|
Structural functionalism is a sociological paradigm which addresses the issue of social functions, various elements of the society is meant to play.This is based on the view of Durkheim according to which society tends to maintain equilibrium through moral values.The prime function of educational institutions is to maintain the status-quo of the society.
It is the general moral values(consensus) which keeps the society intact.And according to social structuralism all social institutions particularly educational institutions plays important role to maintain the state of equilibrium in society. Other social institutions like govrnment,,religion and economy also helps in maintaining this equilibrium and keeps the society healty.Society is called healthy when every member of the society accept the general moral values and obey them.
Structural functionist believe that role of educational institutions is to incorporate common consensus among the new member (children) of the society.According to Durkheim in educational institutions the behaviour is regulated to accept the general moral values through curriculum and hidden curriculum.Educational institutions also sort out learners for future market.It plays the role of grading learners out come to fit them to different future jobs.High achievers will be trained for higher jobs and low achievers will be fitted in less important jobs.The behaviour of member of society is regulated in such a way that they accept their roles in society according to their social status.Thus structural functionalism opposes social mobility.
The weakness of this perspective lies in unability to answer the question why would the working class wish to stay working class? And this debate has given birth to another perspective theory that is conflict theory.We will study conflict theory in next sub section.
|1.3.3 Conflict theory and Social Reproduction|
The perspective of conflict theory, contrary to the structural functionalist perspective, believes that society is full of vying social groups with different aspirations, different access to life chances and gain different social rewards.Relations in society, in this view, are mainly based on exploitation,dominition,subordination and conflict.This is the opposite view of society than the previous idea(structural functionalism) that most people accept continuing inequality. Some conflict theorists believe education is controlled by the nation which is controlled by the powerful social group, and its purpose is to reproduce existing inequalities, as well as legitimise acceptable common ideas which actually as reinforcement to the privileged positions of the dominant group.
Education is one of the most powerful social institution as it has access to the children.Right from the beginning in their life education institutions has great control. Education institutions decides the future perspective of the children.But the question arises that what is the dominant force behind Educational institution.Who decides the way educational institutions should run.As we read society has many social groups with different social aims and aspirations, different status and life chances. As the aspiration of different group are varied and may be conflicting.So there is conflict for becoming the dominant force of Educational instutions.And obviously the dominant group will be the force behing educational institutions.
And educational institutions follows the directions of dominant group to maintain the status -quo of society ie the lower, middle and upper class children become lower, middle and upper class adults respectively.This is a cyclic process as the dominant group roots the values,and aims favouring themselves in educational institutions.Dominant group also promotes the myth through other institution like government, economy that education is for all and provide a means of achieving wealth and status. Anyone who fails to achieve this goal, according to the myth, has to blame himself; not the social inequality and unfavourable educational.
Conflict theorists believe this social reproduction is a cyclic process because the whole education system is flooded with ideologies provided by the dominant group.According to this theory people always tries to go up in level of society.Thus this theory promotes social mobility.
|1.3.4 Concept of Cultural Capital|
Before we proceed further let us first discuss what is cultural capital. Cultural capital denotes the accumulation of knowledge, experience,skills one has had through the course of their life that enables him to succeed more so than someone from a less experienced background.
Pierre Bourdieu a sociologist has further elaborated the social reproduction theory and developed the relation between the structure( educational institutions) and the learners.
Bourdieu has built his theoretical framework around the important concepts of cultural capital. This concepts is based on the idea that social structures (educational institutions particularly) determine individuals' chances, through the mechanism of the cultural capital.. Bourdieu used the idea of cultural capital to explore the differences in outcomes for students from different classes.He explored the conflict between the orthodox reproduction and the innovative production of knowledge and experience.He found that this conflict is intensified by considerations of which particular cultural capital is to be conserved and reproduced in schools. Bourdieu argues that it is the culture of the dominant groups, and therefore their cultural capital, which is embodied in schools, and that this leads to social reproduction.
The cultural capital of the dominant group, in the form of practices and relation to culture, is assumed by the school to be the natural and only proper type of cultural capital and is therefore legitimated. Students who possess this legitimate cultural capital gain educational capital in the form of qualifications.Learner having cultural capital different from accepted cultural capital are therefore disadvantaged. To gain qualifications they must acquire legitimate cultural capital, by exchanging their own (lower-class) cultural capital. This exchange is not straight forward and easy.Learner of lower class find success harder in school due to the fact that they must learn a new way of ‘being’, or relating to the world, and especially, a new way of relating to and specially using language.They have to act also against their instincts and expectations.Their expectations and instinct influenced by the cultural capital found in the school, also helps in social reproduction by encouraging less-privileged students to eliminate themselves from the system as drop outs. That is why still,only a small number of less-privileged students achieve success. And majority of these students who get success at education had to incorporate the values of the dominant classes and use them as their own. The process of social reproduction is not perfect and very few learners gets success to overcome the barrier of cultural capital;but most of them fails to do so.
Therefore Bourdieu's perspective reveals how structures play an important role in determining individual achievement in school.This also allows for an individual to overcome these barriers.
We can say Bourdieu's has combined the structural functionalism and conflict theory in his cultural capital concept.Both functionalism and conflict theories have meaning and place in Education.
| 1.4 Issues in Sociology of Education|
Educational institution is a good sample of society.It is a miniature form of society.You can find various group like group of learners(boys and girls),group of teacher(male and female),group of non teaching staff.Various roles are played in educational institutions like Evaluation (peer evaluation, tutor evaluation, evaluation of teacher by learner etc).
Teacher play role of Judge(evaluation),helper (help learner in achieving objective ),detective(find out the law breaker),Idol(promotimg values).The environment of educational institution is a complex one and various issues like gender,Social background,language technology,ideology interplay in a complex social milieu at micro(within institution) and macro (broad perspective) level.Let us go through these issues in brief.this will be useful in arranging effective learning experience.
A language is a set of visual, auditory, symbols(gesture and posture) of communication. We know that learning is a process resulting from the communication(interaction)between learner and teacher.So you can understand what importance language have in education.In a single language society where one language is used there is no concern of language of education at local level.But in a bigger social sphere(global) again language issue comes.
But in a multilingual society the issue of language selection comes at both local and global level.We can see hues and cry over the language issue in schools.In India we opt to put our children in English medium schools though our mother tongue is not English.Non English speaking student need extra effort to get the better results.
Let us understand what gender is.Gender differs from sex.Sex is a biological state that defines being male or female.Gender is the social difference a person face due to his sex.Did you notice the gender issue;I have used his not her.Our is a male dominated society and this reflects in educational institutions also.We have some of the indexes which indicates the social biases in all sphere of education like language and literature of texts, male female ratio of learners,teachers.
You can find the status of gender issue in your institution by calculating these indexes.As well you can decide these indexes by including these issues at policy making stage.
Before going through this subsection I advise you to go through the Teaching learning strategies.You can find this in IGNOU website online eGyanKosh (India,IGNOU,School of education, Course ES-316 Block 3, unit 3).
The term ideology of education is a complex one.This can be defined as the set of common agreed ideas and beliefs based on which the formal arrangement for education is made.Ideology is deciding factor at every level of educational activities.Ideology affects curriculum,flow of order in institution,teaching methods.
Curriculum have the strong impression of Idealism,Pragmatism,Essentialism,Reconstructionism,Existentialism.Generally no single philosophy guides curriculum but the mixture of philosophies guides the curriculum.
Any educational institution can have any Teaching learning strategies or the mixture of them.
Teacher centered strategy (word of mouth,demonstration)
Learner centered strategy (open school/university,Computer assisted learning,individual project,Blended learning,flexi-study)
Group learning strategy ( group project,Tutorial,seminar)
Experiential learning strategy (play and learn,discovery learning,role play,simulation method).
You can adopt democratic or authoritarian way of giving instructions.The flow diagram of these orders is as follow.
Authoritarian order generates fear and gap between learner and teacher whereas democratic order fills the gap.It is up to you to choose the method of flow of order.
The question arises what is technology? Technology is the use of science.We read in the earlier subsection that learning is a process resulting from interaction between learner and teacher.This means communication plays a vital role in education.Various teaching strategies needs electronics gadgets, electricity.Print material,educational CDs,audio and video learning materials are used for teaching.Libraries in institutions are getting digital having access to web.Evaluation of learners can be done in Computers.
But what is the sociological aspect of technology.The access to these technologies is not equal in the society.Very few percentage of people in India have access to these technological advancement.In India most of the government primary schools even do not have electricity.According to the Electricity connections(%) in upper primary is as follow
(source: DISE analytical report 2004)
So you can easily understand children having education in these institutions are far from getting the fruit of technological advancement.How can we expect children of these schools to move ahead at par with the children of schools having all technological advancements.
|1.4.5 Family Structure|
The concept of nuclear Family is prevalent now days in India. The concept of combined family is loosing its identity. the percent of family having both parents working is getting higher.They also work in shifts.Parents have very little time for their children.In this case the self study at home is not done well.As a teacher you can identify the family structure of the learner and plan learning activities accordingly.
|1.4.6 Cultural Diversity|
India is a multicultural society and as a teacher and administrator you must think for your action with this perspectives. Recently we have seen lot of turmoil on the issue of text books having matters hurting some section of society. I am not judging the issue. What I want to say that you must think every action for its social consequences. Dress code (veil, skirts,saaries), ornaments (bindi,ear rings,nose rings,mehndi) etc may be the concerns of cultural diversity in educational institutions.Best practice should be to hurt no one.
Social mobility :the degree to which one can move up in the social stratification.
UN: United nation (an international body).
UNESCO :united nation educational,scientific and cultural organization.
Curriculum: Course content,Planned learning outcome.
- These are practice test questions.
1.Define the following terms each in 25 words
c.Sociology of education.
2.Explain the relation between education and sociology in brief?
3.Write the five major sociological concern in your institutions ;and what improvements would you like to incorporate to get better learning outcome (30words).
|Answers to SAQs|
Self-Assessment Questions 1
Self-Assessment Questions 2
Self-Assessment Questions 3
Note : This is a model answer and may not be the best.
While introducing combined sitting arrangement I may face oppose from family members.Girls and Boys may feel uncomfort.I may feel uncomfort to teach subjects having sexual orientation (biology).
|References and Further Readings|
- DISE analytical report 2004
- Wikibooks :Introduction to Sociology(link http://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/introduction to sociology)
- Sociology: A Global Introduction By John J. Macionis Published by Prentice Hall, 2000 ISBN 0130184950
- A Sociology of Education: Emerging Patterns of Class, Status, and Power in the Public Schools By Ronald G. Corwin Published by Appleton-Century-Crofts, 1965Original from the University of Michigan Digitized Mar 28, 2006ISBN 0138212074
- A Sociology Of Educating (second edition) By Roland meighan ISBN No 0 304 31587 7
- Edward N. Wolf (2006) Does Education Really Help? Skill,Work,and Inequality.A Century Foundation Book.Oxford university Press,New York ISBN :0-19-518996-5
- Indian Eduation Structure and process by M.S.Gore,ISBN 81-7033-232-8
- Key Debates In Education by Ian Davis,Ian Gregory and Nicholas McGuinn ISBN 0-8264-5128-4
Basically I belong from Baldeo (Dauji) 12 km far away from Township Mathura. This place is known for their rituals and famous for "BRIJ KA HURANGA".
Dauji is well known for the temple Dauji the elder brother of Lord KRISHNA
“India can become one of the developed countries in the world by 2020, if we adopt technology as our tool. For this, the teaching community should change their mindset and enthuse the students by means of technology” Dr. A. P. J. Abdul Kalam (2004)
Learning is a gradual process that takes place over time. In the past, it was believed the teacher poured knowledge into the empty mind of the student. However the views of constructivism indicated that it is the learner who is actively engaged in the process of acquiring knowledge. We construct knowledge based on the inputs we have. Many years ago the idea that the earth is flat made sense to people based on their experience. That view is unacceptable today based on a much wider experience. In the paper here I wish to acknowledge the personal and social nature of sense making.
A significant finding of cognitive research is that learner comes with a pre - acquired rich knowledge about the world based on his/her everyday experiences. As part of making sense of the world the child draws his/her own conclusions and pre – theories. The work of science education researchers such as Novak (1977) Driver and Easley (1978), and Driver et. al. (1994) highlighted the fact that students bring alternate concepts to a science learning task. An alternate conception (also known as alternate framework, misconception) is an idea held by a person which is different from a scientifically accepted notion.
I would start by taking the example of the Earth. When most people, (children included) are asked about what they know about the Earth, their first statement usually is that the Earth is round. Nussbaum (1979) investigated the concept of the earth as a cosmic body among children of 8-14 years of age. Children responded to a set of questions verbally or by using illustrations. His probing questions revealed that children held a variety of notions regarding the Earth as a cosmic body. These notions included the deep seated view the children had of the Earth: 1: The Earth we live on is flat • The Earth is round because the roads are curved. • The Earth is round due to the shape of mountains. • The Earth is round because it is surrounded by an ocean. a) That is how Columbus went around the Earth. b) As seen from photos from space.
Fig 1: The notion of a flat earth
For most people, the concept of Earth as they view in their daily lives is that it is flat with a flat sky above. The examples given above demonstrate how the meaning of a piece of scientific information, that is the Earth is round undergoes a major distortion by the students while they attempt to derive a meaning to it, to make it compatible with their strong belief that the Earth is flat. Other notions held by children who had grasped the concept of a spherical Earth also revealed a variety of ideas.
Fig 2: Figures drawn by children to depict their notion of earth
In the case of Figure A, the round Earth is separate from the experience of the child and therefore gets incorporated as a body much like the sun and the moon. ln Figure B, the Earth is a hollow body with two hemispheres. In Figure C, the Earth is solid with the sky above only, not below, and in Figure D, the Earth comes across as a multistoried building. A few more notions of the Earth also emerged, including the scientifically correct one. There are many more examples from science where children hold views other than the scientifically correct notion. For example:
• When you dissolve sugar in water, it disappears • Tea will remain hotter in a steel vessel than in a thermocol one. • The human eye is not a receptor but an active agent. There are many characteristics of alternative frameworks which I shall be listing here:
CHARACTERISTICS OF ALTERNATE FRAMEWORKS 1. These ideas are personal: When children in a class write about the same experiment they can give various diverse interpretations of it. Each one has seen and interpreted the experience in his\her own way. Our own behavior is similar, when we read a text or discuss a topic A with another person; we may or may not modify our own point of view. The extent to which we do modify our thinking depends on at least as much on the ideas we have to start with as on what is written or is said. A number of people attending the same lecture or reading the same book, even a scientific text, will not necessarily get the same points from it. Individuals internalize their experience in a way which is at least partially their own meanings; these “personal ideas" influence the manner in which information is acquired. This personal manner of approaching phenomena is also found in the way in which scientific knowledge is generated. But the fact that these ideas are personal does not necessarily mean that they may not be shared by many people. Just as in the history of science, it has happened that different scientists have independently developed and used the same theoretical frameworks. 2. Perceptually dominated thinking: While teaching science, students are often required to construct complex mental models by using a variety of objects or entities and establish interactions between them. This task takes considerable effort and time. Children tend to base their reasoning on observable features in a situation. For example; children say that sugar disappears when it dissolves rather; than the sugar continuing to exist, but in particles too small to see i.e. it is not perceived 3. Limited focus, or focus on change rather than steady- state situations: Children usually consider only limited aspects of particular physical conditions, with the focus on their attention, appearing to depend on the saliency of particular perpetual features. In addition, children tend to interpret phenomena in terms of qualities ascribed to objects rather than in terms of interaction between elements of a system. 4. Linear causal reasoning: Children tend to explain changes in a linear causal sequence. Thus A causes B which causes C to happen rather than understanding that two systems may interact with each other. For example, in considering a container being heated, they think of the process in directional terms with a source applying heat to a receptor whereas from a scientific point of view, the situation is symmetrical with two systems interacting; one gains energy and the other loses it. The preferred direction while reasoning about events is a process which does not allow the student to appreciate the reversible processes. 5. Undifferentiated Concepts: Some of the ideas children use has a range of meanings which can be different and considerably more extensive than those used by Scientists. For example in order to describe or interpret a simple electric circuit, children use one notion, (which they call electricity, current, power). This notion has some of the properties of several scientific notions including current, charge and potential difference. Children tend to slip from one meaning to another without necessarily being aware of it. For example, the word conductor or insulator may be used to mean "to heat quickly or slowly" and "to hold warmth or coldness". These are notions which are clearly differentiated from a scientist’s perspective, however at their level of interpretation of events; students do not have the need to make such distinctions. 6. Context dependency: We saw how different scientific concepts may be differentiated in childrens’ thinking. Conversely, children often call upon different ideas to interpret a situation which a scientist would explain in the same way. For example, a child choosing a steel cup to keep coffee hot because they experience it in their daily lives. However, the child may use thermocol to keep something cold (polio vaccine) 7. The ideas are very stable: In this section I have identified a number of general features which characterize children’s’ thinking about physical phenomena. Specific information about children’s thinking of particular types of phenomena is important when it comes to planning and teaching specific topics. These recurring ideas which permeate students’ understanding of a range of natural phenomena reflect many of the general features I have just described; they tend to derive from perceptions and reflect linear casual reasoning with a single action producing an effect. Although these ideas may not constitute coherent and well articulated models on the part of the individuals, one does note the prevalence of such ideas in the population as a whole. There is also evidence that such ideas are deep—seated and recur despite teaching. They therefore may need to be given particular consideration in planning for long term learning for pupils, during school years.
One of the topics that I teach in college as a pedagogist is "alternate frameworks”. Before attempting to teach it, I tried out some of the tasks with my 3rd year students. In one case, I asked students to draw the Earth and place three people; on the North Pole, South Pole and equator. I observed the following drawings:
Fig 3: depiction of the earth by III yr. college students Out of 31 students, two represented the Earth as a hollow sphere, two gave the correct scientific notion and the rest represented Earth as a multistoried building. Repeated trials over the next four years gave similar results. (See table) YEAR A B C TOTAL I 2 27 2 31 II 1 26 3 30 III - 29 3 32 14 - 28 7 35 Table 1: Number of students depicting the earth as A, B and C; the study was carried out over four years.
I teach this course to students who would subsequently be teaching students about the Earth. A teacher who is herself unclear about a concept will pass on the uncertainty to students or perpetuate the alternate conception she has. It is thus imperative to bring out anomalies that exist in the mind of the learner before attempting to create a new understanding. The results I observed are consistent with the observations and recordings of naive beliefs about scientific notions held by students at various levels of education, for example secondary level (Shipstone, 1988) and undergraduate level (Saxena, 1992). In another longitudinal study, Saxena (1998) found that despite teaching for three years, the students had many misconceptions. These students had physics as one of the major subjects of study. HOW DO THESE IDEAS AFFECT THE LEARNING PROCESS? Students’ minds are not blank slates able to receive instruction in a neutral way. On the contrary, students approach experiences presented in science classes with previously acquired notions and influences learnt from new experiences in a number of ways. These include the observations made of events, the interpretations offered for such observations and the strategies students use to acquire new information, including reading from texts and experimentation. The child even when s/he is very young has ideas about things which play a role in the learning experience. What children are capable of learning depends at least in part upon what they have in their heads as well as on the learning context in which they find themselves. A model introduced by cognitive scientists fits well with what we now know between the interaction between the child’s different ideas and the manner in it which these ideas evolve with teaching. This model is based on the hypothesis that information is stored in memory in various forms and that everything we say and do depends upon the elements or group of elements of this stored information. These schemes also influence the way a person may behave or interact with the environment and in turn may be influenced by feedback from the environment. In learning science, a pupil may note an event that is contrary to his or her expectations, that does not fit in with his or her schemes. Simply noting such a discrepant event is however not followed by a restructuring of that student’s ideas. Such restructuring takes time and favorable circumstances to help students to accomplish such reorganizing in their thinking about natural phenomena, since teaching can play an important role in giving children a wide range of experiences relating to certain key ideas. EDUCATIONAL IMPLICATIONS Frequently, when science is taught to primary school children it is taught as if the school children had no prior experiences relative to the topic being studied. Misconceptions held by students indicate that this is not a valid assumption. Children come to school with previously held beliefs about how things happen and have expectations based on past experiences which enable them to predict future events. They also possess clear meanings for words which are used both in everyday language and in a more specialized way of Science. A child’s view and understanding of word meanings are incorporated into conceptual structures which provide a sensible and coherent understanding of the world from the child’s point of view. Therefore before embracing the concepts held to be correct by the scientific community, students must confront their own beliefs along with their associated paradoxes and limitations and then attempt to reconstruct the knowledge necessary to understand the scientific model being presented. The process requires that the teacher: • Identify students’ misconceptions • Provide a forum for students to confront their misconceptions • Help students reconstruct their knowledge, based on scientific models. Teachers must realise that their students have misconceptions and to change this, the important learning outcomes teacher education should address the following: • A conceptual changed view of learning • Knowledge of generic strategies useful in achieving conceptual change • Knowledge of common misconceptions for several important topics and specific strategies for changing them. • Skill in diagnosing students’ conceptions and reorganising them from student responses. • Start with students’ ideas and devise teaching strategies to take account of them. • Provide more structured opportunities for students to talk through ideas at length, both in small groups and whole class discussions. • Begin with known and familiar examples. The first year of B.El.Ed includes a paper called Core Natural Science where certain concepts are revisited. On the basis of my understanding of the types of notions that students had, I tried out a number of strategies while planning for teaching the concept of “gravity”. The strategies included: • Talking about the concept of “up” and “down” • An activity where; in groups the children stick pins into an apple/orange • Similar activity with a globe • Comparing gravity on earth and the moon • Small group discussions where the students were encouraged to articulate their thoughts. • Drawing comparisons A similar test was taken when the same students were in their IIIrd year revealed that 17/30 students gave the scientifically acceptable answer. CONCLUSIONS Models of conceptual change imply that the learner’s ability to reforge links between prior knowledge and sensory input Is likely to be of critical importance of learning. Teachers can assist learners by providing the kinds of information and experiences which will enable them to bridge the gaps between sensory input and prior knowledge and ideas to be taught. These should always be related to the relevant frameworks held by the learner and the revision of the key parts of such frameworks should not be undertaken lightly.
REFERENCES 1. Driver R, Guesne E., and Tiberghien A (1985), Childrens’ ideas in science, Milton Keynes – OUP: Philadelphia. 2. Shipstone D. (1988), Pupil’s understanding of simple electronic circuits Physics Education, 23 (2), 92-96. 3. Saxena, A.B. (1992) An attempt to remove misconceptions related to electricity, International Journal of Science Education, 142 (2), 157-162. 4. Novak, J.D (1977) Epicycles and the homocentric Earth: what is wrong with the stages of cognitive development, science education, 61, 393-395. 5. Driver R and Easley, J. (1978) Pupils and Paradigms: A review of literature related to concept development in adolescent science students. Studies in Science Education, 5, 61-84. 6. Nussbaum, J. (1979) Childrens’ concept of earth as a cosmic body: a cross age study, science education, 63, 83-93. 7. Saxena, A.B. (1998) The development of concepts related to electricity among college students – A longitudinal study communicated to Research in science and technology education cited in “Alternate Frameworks in electricity and conceptual change” in International Workshop on History and Science: Implications for science education, 1999.