How can sociology of education help you as a professional teacher?

Beginning teachers will encounter many students whose backgrounds (economic, ethnic, religious) and upbringing (family profile, family culture, values, beliefs) are very different than their own. Students are not a blank slate, upon which knowledge can be written. Knowledge, skills and habits of the mind are shaped and developed by the child's own observations, experiences, and imagination. If the teacher has no concept of sociology, s/he will imagine herself to be feeding knowledge to her own profile. This will not work, even in the classroom in which s/he and the students' profiles seem to match. This is because the "book covers" she sees only encourage wrong assumptions (about the what's inside each book) to the teacher. S/he instead must become his/her own first pupil, setting about learning everything s/he can about every student and their collective tendencies as well. S/he must do this first by acknowledging her/himself to be unqualified to teach the group properly without these understandings. Secondly, S/he must commit to develop the ability to go about this work without judgment. This requires constant effort, discovering his/her own biases, while getting support from others committed to the specific skills of removing judgment and bias.


Well, let me use one study that I remember: a certain ethnic minority demonstrated the tendency to ask young children questions that have concrete answers, i.e.: What is this? (a ball), What color is this ball? (color named). Other types of questions, like for an opinion or more complex information: Why do you think your teacher is mean? This would not be asked as it assumes a young child is wise enough to determine what signs to look for, something beyond emotions.

Now, knowing this, an elementary teacher may begin with something easy like: Do you like red? the sound of violins? Or, for secondary teachers: What is a democracy? leading to: Compare and contrast a democracy with a monarchy.

The knowledge of what that child is learning to expect from adults at home would need a bridge to accelerate their experience in more critical thinking, as is common in American schools.


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The more knowledge a teacher has the better. It is important for a teacher to understand how groups interact with one another.


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