1.6 Comparative Education: What is the sociological approach? Which steps should I follow in its application?

Chapter 1

1.6 Explain the steps to follow in the application of the sociological approach

Sociological approach

In the sociological method the educational problems are studied in a social context. This is done with the belief that the educational system of a country is conditioned by its social, cultural, economic, political and religious situations. Hence the educational problems of a country have their origin in some social problems and they do not exist by themselves, as there is a close relationship between education and society. The sociological methods of the stud of comparative education does not emphasize only the past causative factors, but also those social and cultural aspects which may be responsible for the problem.

Assumptions of the approach

Society is considered as a fit subject for speculation and enquiry. Enquiry into the nature of human knowledge, the nature of human science and the question whether laws and principles underlie the growth and development of society are important.

Comparative inquiry in education may exhibit the influence of the trend towards the study of society.

The development of a sociological viewpoint implies a degree of analysis rather more refined than  mere  cultural  descriptions.  It  emphasis  is  on  the  possibilities  of  prediction.  Thus comparative education study will be a study of the dynamics of an educational system and of its relationship with other aspects of society.

Steps to follow

The following are the steps that could be followed when using sociological method of data collection:

i. Identification and collecting things of practical value that can be learnt from the study of foreign systems of education

ii. Analysis of the extent to which things outside the schools may influence the things inside the school, an analysis of how school teaching staff, or classes of pupils relate themselves to the system and how they may be inextricably connected with the life of the nation

iii.    Investigations of how comparative education studies, as an instrument of reform, may also be an agency for promoting international understanding. Since the collection of information of a comparative kind would make it necessary for teachers. For example, there should be a system of our own country, Kenya. This ought to give the clues to the most valuable lessons, which can be drawn from, the educational system of another country. We have to show concern for national background in our inquiries on education of the country studied. Lastly, there is need to be aware that educational reform and innovation would have wide social implications.

iv. Look for the means of prediction, or theories, which would enable us to anticipate events. Prediction as a purpose implies a stress on sociological dimension in addition to the historical perspective of the pioneers.

Shortcoming of sociological method

The  sociological  method  suffers  from  the  limitation  that  it  ignores  the  contributions  of individuals towards the growth of education. We know that in each country there are some individuals who have contributed immensely towards the growth of education in their countries. The main proponents of this approach are Michael Saddler, William Harris, HJ Noah, and MA Eckstein.

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