Culturalissue education in the Australian context
Cultureis one of the most ubiquitous and traverse issue in human societythat has attracted considerable attention from all fields ofacademia, most importantly sociology. This is mainly because of itslinkage to the most discrete aspects of human life. Culture affectsall aspects of life including social relations, politics, governance,education, business, religion and science. Culture can be defines asthe way of life in reference to a particular aspect of the society.Culture is composed of different facets that characterize members ofa particular society. They include beliefs, language, values andnorms, objects, arts, technologies, institutions and behavior thatare common to a group or society. A society is composed ofindividuals that share a culture. Members of a particular society areinvolved in sharing a way of life and engage in similar behavioralpatterns. In addition to being shared, culture is learned.Individuals are not born with characteristics of a particularculture. Cultural patterns are transferred from one generation toanother through cultural learning. For example, an individual is notborn a Christian or a Spanish speaker. Through interaction withmembers of a particular society, the individual learns the culturalpatterns and behaviors that characterize the society. Therefore,culture and society can not be separated, that is, they areintricately connected. A culture describes the objects of a societywhile the society constitutes individuals with a common culture1.
Whatis subculture, what is counter culture?
Thereexist numerous subcultures within the main culture. In any society,there are small societies that tend to develop culturally uniformcharacteristics, although they share the main cultural characteristicwith the mainstream culture. These small societies are referred to assubcultures. Subcultures are values, norms, social patterns andbehaviors can distinctively be isolated from the wider society. Forexample, in the United States, there are subcultures that are linkedto particular genre of music such as the hip hop culture. Althoughthe group fits in the general American culture, they have distinctivecharacteristics. Members of a subculture purposely or inadvertentlydifferentiate themselves from the larger society. In the same waycultures have symbolism that identifies it subcultures have symbolssuch as music, art, clothing and language that members of the smallsociety identify with. Sociologists have argued that the existence ofsubcultures is a characteristic of a culture. This is becausesubcultures exist in all cultures. Additionally, in many cases, dueto the relationships between the mainstream culture and the severalsubcultures that emerge, it is difficult to distinctively identifythe elements of a subculture. This is mainly because the masses tendto adopt some of the elements of subcultures due to the benefitsaccrued. For example, music and clothing from a particular subculturemay emerge as a fashion or new way of life and thus is adopted by themajority in the society2.
Onthe other hand, a counterculture considered to be a subculture whosecharacteristics, norms and values are significantly different fromthe main culture. However, it does not qualify to be referred as adistinct culture. Some sociologists have argued that countercultureis a movement that expresses and promotes particular ethos and valueswithin the mainstream culture. It is a subculture that opposes anddeviates from some elements of the mainstream culture. Some of themost prominent countercultures include religious cults or politicalparties. For example, a religious counterculture, cult, may emergewithin the mainstream Christian society. Historically, somecountercultures have resulted into major and vivid culturaltransformation, for example, the romanticism in the early 19thcentury3.
Traditionalschooling vs. alternative schooling, cultural perspective
Throughouthistory, education has been provided through schools where pupils andstudents are confined in the same place to gain knowledge. Despitethe existence of different forms of schools in all civilizations,some home based education system has existed. Over the years, therehas been a paradigm shift where all societies through the world,including the Australian society, have adopted the western schoolbased education system. Young children attending schools has evolvedinto a social norm, constituting a major cultural characteristics ofthe modern society. Modern schools are important aspects of themodern culture. They have formed a channel through which differentaspects of the modern culture are transmitted from one generation toanother. The education systems have also led to the formation of moreculturally diverse society. Education enables the social elites toconnect and interact with the rest of the world, which has resultedinto cultural shifts as well as formation of subcultures andcountercultures4.
Nonetheless,the emergence of a home based schooling and other nonschool basedsettings has been considered to be a culture shift, while someeducational sociologists view it has a subculture within theeducation system. Although the education system has similarcharacteristics with the convectional educational system, forexample, a curriculum, the student learns in a home setting. Homeschooling or home based education can be defined as education withinthe home setting where learning is directed by parents or hiredprivate tutors. Although home based education may involve the use ofcommunity and government resources such as public libraries, theeducation system is not funded or supported by the government. Thehome school is different from the traditional school based educationprovided by the government when learning takes place in private orpublic registered educational institutions.
Thereare several questions that have been raised on the academic andsocial advantages and challenges associated with home based educationcompared to the traditional school based education. Studies indicatethat there social and academic limitations of home schoolingadvocating for school based education system. However, there areevidence that student from home based educational systems aresuccessively succeeding in secondary and tertiary institutions whichare based on the traditional system as well as prospering in theworkforce. Proponents of the new education subculture argue thatthere are numerous advantages that can be accrued from home schoolingrelative to school based education5.
Themain strength of school based education has been the high level ofinteraction student is exposed to at a young age. In the traditionalsetting, students are able to interact with children from diversesocial and cultural backgrounds. However, the exposure is based onsame age interaction. On the other hand, home based educationprovided the children with vertical interactions since they are ableto interact with individuals of all ages. Parents who opt for homebased education involve their children in a wide range ofsocialization activities such as enrollment in clubs, support groupsand voluntary community groups which provide better socialexperiences compared to the traditional educational setting. Thechoice of the new education system is based on two main aspects, thenegative features of the traditional education system and thepositive features of home schooling. Some parents view traditionalschool based education provided by the government as a substandardsystem due to weak curriculum, poor standard, unacceptable values andsocial problems that characterize the modern schools. Some of themost important social problems in modern schools include bullying,negative peer pressure and peer influence and unattended specialneeds. On the other hand, home based education provides an option forboarder and flexible curriculum, individualized learning, betweenlearner teacher relationship and holistic learning6.
Theincreased number of parents preferring home schooling for theirchildren has attracted the attention of policy makers in theeducation sector. This is because the trend threatens the establisheducation system with a new schooling culture. Of concerns have beenthe main motivations of the parents who prefer home schooling.Majority of parents adapting to the new learning culture are concernwith the traditional school environment due to the particular moraland religious teachings in the system as well as quality issues.Rather enrolling children in a system they are not comfortable with,modern parents prefer educational system that is more relevant totheir parenting style7.
Homeschooling is the major alternative to the traditional school basedlearning systems, there are other learning alternatives. The moderntechnologies have had impacts on all aspects of the human society andcultures. To a larger extent, computer and internet basedtechnologies have increased the accessibility to information. Theinternet provides one of the most important learning tools in themodern society. Internet based technologies provides an importantalternative to the traditional school based learning. Internetlearning involves students getting instructions through live streamvideos or access to learning material from the World Wide Web. Nonetheless, internet based technology is used to support othereducation systems such as home schooling or the traditional schoolbased learning. Internet based learning is also more applicable amongolder learners, who have gained basic computer application skills8.
Otheremerging learning includes the Steiner education system where thelearning activities evolves and shift with the development of achild. The education system is preferred to the traditional learningsystem because it concentrates on the child as an individual ratherthan the curriculum. They system of education was established basedon the thoughts of the great Australian philosopher, Rudolf Steiner.Another emerging alternative to traditional school based education isthe unschooling option. This refers to educational practice andlearning activities are based on the natural life experiences of thelearner9.The learning activities involved in unschooling includes games andplay, social interactions, household and workplace experiences as analternative to the government provided curriculum based schooling.Student in this learning structure are allowed to explore learningactivities without parental or teacher facilitation. However,unschooling is very controversial with some educationists have argingthat this learning structure is potentially unethical. Withalternative education and teaching alternatives continues to emerge,scholars in the education sector have divergent views on the matter.With some argue that innovation and transformation of the educationsector is inevitable and has positive impacts on the learners, othershave argued that the emerging trends should not replace thetraditional school based educational system10.
Jackson,G. Home education transitions with formal schooling: Studentperspectives. Issuesin Educational Research,17 (1), (2007). Pp 62-84
LesBack et al. Culturalsociology: an introduction,Chichester, West Sussex Hoboken, NJ : Wiley-Blackwell. (2012).
Sadker,D.M. & Zittleman, K.R. Teachers,schools, and society(10th ed.). New York, NY: Mc Graw. (2013).
1 Les Back et al. Cultural sociology: an introduction, Chichester, West Sussex Hoboken, NJ : Wiley-Blackwell. (2012).
3 Les Back et al. Cultural sociology: an introduction, Chichester, West Sussex Hoboken, NJ : Wiley-Blackwell. (2012).
4 Sadker, D.M. & Zittleman, K.R. Teachers, schools, and society (10th ed.). New York, NY: Mc Graw. (2013).
5 Jackson, G. Home education transitions with formal schooling: Student perspectives. Issues in Educational Research, 17 (1), (2007). Pp 62-84
6 Jackson, G. Home education transitions with formal schooling: Student perspectives. Issues in Educational Research, 17 (1), (2007). Pp 62-84
8 Sadker, D.M. & Zittleman, K.R. Teachers, schools, and society (10th ed.). New York, NY: Mc Graw. (2013).
9 Ibid .
10 Sadker, D.M. & Zittleman, K.R. Teachers, schools, and society (10th ed.). New York, NY: Mc Graw. (2013).