Sociology of Education

Discipline: Educational Leadership & Foundations
Instructor: Strouse
Credits: 3
Day: A
Start: 1415
End: 1530
Field Work: Day 1 | Singapore Download Syllabus

This course explores educational systems employed throughout the world with special emphasis on the regions and countries of the world that we will visit during this semester. The purpose of this course is to provide students with different analytical frameworks for understanding schools and how they are influenced by the broader socio-cultural context.    The course will introduce students to theories and frameworks that will help them examine education from a sociological lens.

Is the function of formal education to prepare citizens for economic participation, to reproduce existing social structures, to indoctrinate citizens for political or religious purposes, to yield power to certain groups, to liberate disadvantaged groups, to foster social justice and promote equity, to provide opportunities for individual development, to give people opportunities for social mobility, or to meet other ends?

While investment in education is viewed as a key variable linked to economic growth, poverty reduction, and improvements in health, extensive social inequalities and economic divisions persist, even in the most economically developed societies. How gender, race, mother tongue, and social class bear on these issues will be considered throughout the class.  The course will foster a critical understanding of these issues and their implications for education, development, policy and practice.

NOTE: Whenever possible/practical we will invite guest speakers to the class from the various regions of the world that we will be visiting.

Pre-requisites: previous coursework in sociology or education strongly suggested

Field Work

Country: Singapore
Day: 1

The Field Lab will take us to Singapore’s National Institute of Education (NIE) where we will meet with our host, Dr. Warren Liew.  Singapore has an official Mother Tongue Language Policy that recognizes Chinese, Malay, Tamil, English and multiple other dialects in schools and in all official interactions within the country.  This policy reflects Singapore’s multiracial, multicultural, and multilingual citizenry.  Our host, Dr. Liew, specializes in language variations across cultures and in language policy in Singapore. After a brief tour of the campus, students will participate in a lecture and conversation with Professor Liew on the complicated social and political aspects of these policies.   Dr. Liew will also discuss the place of “Singlish,” the indigenized variety of Singaporean English, in Singaporean society and culture.  Students will learn about and discuss the ways in which Singaporean youth engage in online activism through the production of homemade YouTube videos which celebrate the power of Singlish. Professor Liew will join us for lunch where we can informally continue the dialogue.   Once we finish lunch we will visit two local K-12 schools to observe how these language policies are enacted. SAS students will have an opportunity to meet with students, teachers, and administrators in these schools. Students will discuss their observations during a final wrap-up meeting prior to returning to the M/V Explorer.
Academic Objectives: 1. Describe and explain Singapore’s educational system in relation to its stated multicultural, multilingual goals 2. Examine the roles that formal education plays within the broader context of development and change 3. Observe first-hand how these broad goals actually play out on both the macro and micro level in Singapore