Socializing students

Schools are giving on academics in favor of socializing children, writes a British professor, Frank Furedi, in The Telegraph. Much will sound familiar to Americans.

A couple of months ago, I was told by an educationalist that classroom behaviour would significantly improve if children had regular access to drinking water. Other educationalists say nutritious school meals would do the trick. Some schools are using aromatherapy and chill-out music in the hope of engendering an atmosphere conducive to learning.

I can’t see aromatherapy doing much to raise educational standards, but nor do I envisage it having a negative impact in classrooms.

Alas, the same cannot be said of some of the other more intrusive social-engineering initiatives that are being foisted on children’s education. Rather than being educational institutions, they are fast becoming creche-like places whose main task is the socialisation of children.

Under one proposal, teen-agers wouldn’t have to study history, geography and modern languages. But classes in citizenship and sex education would be compulsory.

Schools are taking on parental and community responsibilities, Furedi writes. It doesn’t leave much time for teaching academics. At the same time, parents are asked to take on teaching duties at home — but not asked to socialize their own children.

Update: In Detroit, some schools give students supplies, clothing, food, eyeglasses, dental care — even a Thanksgiving turkey.

Felicia McCray’s daughter came home last year from Carstens Elementary School on Detroit’s east side with a new burgundy coat.

Kayja, now 9, also showed her mother her new hat, gloves, shoes, uniform, hair accessories and a voucher to Payless ShoeSource to get another pair of shoes.

McCray, a stay-at-home mother of two, doesn’t remember filling out any forms asking for help. But she gladly took the freebies. “It’s not like we’re a charity case,” she said. “But if you’re willing to help me, I’m willing to be helped.”

Parents also can get donated household goods, such as toilet seats and curtains, and help with job-hunting, finances and landlord-tenant relations. Everything but decent schools for their kids.

About Joanne


  1. damaged justice says:

    “I don’t want my children ‘socialized’; I want them *civilized*.”

  2. Wacky Hermit says:

    When I studied sociology in college, I understood that “socialization” meant “educating youngsters in the ways and values of a particular culture, and introducing them to their places in it.” In the case of schools, this means teaching children to value a certain body of knowledge, and imparting this same knowledge. This is Sociology 101 stuff.

    I wonder if these educators mentioned in the story have ever studied any sociology.

  3. Nah, they just took education classes, where they learned HOW to TEACH sociology 101.

  4. I don’t frickin’ believe it. Parents can get vouchers to buy their kids shoes, but not to send them to the school of their choice.

  5. This is mission creep. The school is trying to do too much.

  6. Just think of all the poor home-schooled kids. How are they going to be *socialized*?

  7. This guy’s essay is totally off the mark. Have any of you heard of No Child Left Behind? Because of NCLB, schools (in California, anyway) are scrambling to match curriculum with state standards. There’s far less time for the so-called “fluff” (which didn’t much exist in the first place, at least not to the degree that many right-wing pundits claim) of socialization than there ever was.

    The posters here are far too quick to join the anti-public school bandwagon. For so-called independent thinkers, that’s a lot of herd mentality.

  8. The essayist is a British professor writing about schools in the U.K. British schools, which traditionally have relied heavily on tests, are Americanizing, while U.S. schools are becoming more test-focused.

    The movement to make schools into social services centers for poor students and parents started 15 to 20 years ago in the U.S. Crack use, which was more prevalent among women than other hard drugs, devastated inner-city families. Schools stepped in to help, but proved unable to substitute for competent parents. Now schools are focusing more on education (except in Detroit) and parents are doing more parenting and less crack. Absent fathers are still a huge problem, of course.

  9. Joanne,

    You make sensible points. My post was responding to the tendency for many of your readers to generalize negative particulars – especially about public schools – into hostile wholes. I’m aware that the essayist was British, but when you say, “Much will sound familiar to Americans,” there’s an implied correlation between what’s happening in Britain and what’s happening here. So I thank you for clarifying that things are changing in American schools.

    As for schools becoming social service centers, I honestly never saw that happen. But perhaps we’re talking about two different things. For example, our district schools do not endorse or support class time for self-esteem programs. Growing up, I never had teachers try to force feed me those “feel-good” programs so many people talk about. When people talk about schools becoming social service centers, there’s often an implication that that help is at the expense of *academics*. I just haven’t seen that. But perhaps you have.

    And all of this finally begs the question that gnaws at me constantly: How do schools whose students suffer overwhelming social problems bolster academics *without* addressing those problems?

    I wish someone had a good answer to that one.

  10. I have to agree with SusieQ. I don’t see adademics suffering for self-esteem and socialization classes either. Contrarily, I see the opposite with the push toward standards and testing like end-of-course testing and exit testing, not to mention testing for kindergarteners (For Christ’s sake, let kids be kids!). Besides, yes, the community is responsible for the socialization of children. When did schools cease to be an integral part of the community??? Looking at the students I work with, we do need more in basic social skills. Even if it’s just “how to appropriately interact with other human beings.” Believe me. There is a desperate need. Schools, as a significant part of the community, and the place where kids spend much of their time, participate in the socialization and upbringing of our children, whether we do so directly or not. So we may as well make a concerted effort to do it right.

  11. In the 1990s when I was subbing, I subbed in classes where the school district had regularly scheduled classtime with a counselor to talk about feelings, and classtime with a noncounselor (but specially trained I’m sure) to talk about the same thing……so it *was* happening. Dunno about now of course…..When I was in tchr ed (1980s)I read some of Neil Postman’s “Teaching As a Subversive Activity” which was about schools needing to change society for the better by being everything to/for the community around it (medicenter, counseling center, job center, etc.) to fix said community. I recall thinking “When will there be time to educate?” Years later Neil Postman has second thoughts in “Teaching As A Conservative Activity”.

  12. Out of curiosity, I’m going to survey some of my suburban school counterparts. I’ll bet that what you’re describing is much more prevalent there than it is where I am, where the system is run by non-whites. It’s a significant cultural difference.

  13. Mark Odell says:

    Urban Educ8r wrote: When did schools cease to be an integral part of the community???

    If by “integral part” you mean “both in and of the community”, as opposed to “in the community but not of it”, the answer is 1867 at the earliest and 1979 at the latest.


  1. aciphex says: