Today educational issues are often front page news, such as the assessment movement and the No Child Left Behind (2001) legislation; the Supreme Court decision of June 28, 2007, to limit race-based student assignments and desegregation as we have come to know it; charter schools; increasing language diversity and numbers of non-English speaking students; and globalization that has decreased job prospects for graduating seniors. The world is going through many economic and political changes, and we are feeling those changes in education. Social Foundations courses help bring these many current issues into perspective for teachers and future teachers, and give teachers a forum to engage in discussion about them.
Social Foundations of Education as an area of study began in the 1930s, when the Depression in the U.S. caused severe economic and social dislocation for society and its schools. Educators thought it was necessary for teachers to study the social context in which schooling took place, so, as teachers, they would be better prepared to meet the difficult challenges that the social context placed on their abilities to be effective in classrooms. Future teachers needed to understand schools as a force that functions democratically, and prepares all children with the skills and aspirations to contribute to a democracy in the future.
In all the undergraduate teacher education degree programs, as well as the graduate Transition to Teaching program, pre-service teachers take EDUC H340 Education and American Culture. This course typically uses the academic lenses of educational history, philosophy, and sociology to examine the relationship between schools and society. These tools help our studentsexamine how schools have, do, and can promote democracy as a way of learning and living.
At the graduate level, the Social Foundations courses are more focused on specific disciplines within Social Foundations, such as EDUC H504, History of American Education; EDU H530 Philosophy of Education; EDUC H540, Sociology of Education; or H551, Comparative Education. A course that deals more topically with current issues is EDUC H520, Education and Social Issues.
Thus, the Social Foundations courses are the building blocks with which the rest of the curriculum is integrated. With their strong focus on creating an ongoing dialogue about democracy in schooling and in all aspects of life, they are the core of our programs.