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THE SOCIOLOGICAL ASPECTS OF OUR EDUCATIONAL
WALTER ROBINSON SMITH
Sociologists are in the habit of proclaiming that the central field of knowledge of most worth and the human characteristics most needed in our modern highly differentiated society are social. They likewise insist that increased recognition be given to sociological principles as the basis of efficient institutional management. If these propositions are to be maintained, the sociologist must be prepared to accept increasing responsibilities for showing how these social qualities may be developed and for applying the principles of his science to the clarification of institutional problems. Nor must he be content with the mere elaboration of general principles or the outlining of general programs; he must apply his principles specifically and co-operate with practical administrators in every institutional field.
This specific nature of the function of sociology has already been accepted with reference to the problems of philanthropy, of the church, of the family, and of special phases of urban and rural life. But in the field of education sociologists have been laggards. They have dealt vaguely with education as an important basis of social organization and control and of social progress; but they have not carefully analyzed education as an institution, or taken vigorous hold of educational theory and practice. Few sociologists would admit that psychology has a greater educational mission than sociology; yet while psychologists are making actual contributions to educational progress through the development and application of a scientific educational psychology, sociologists are still in the stage of quibbling over the name that should be applied to sociological studies of education. The inevitable result of the
domination of psychology in the training of teachers and in determining educational principles and practices is an exaggerated emphasis upon the individual aspects of education.' What sociologists should contribute to education is a virile educational sociology that is broad enough and definite enough to shift some of this emphasis from the development of individualistic traits to the development of social traits, or what we may call social-mindedness.
The natural approach to such an educational sociology is through a study of educational aims. An analysis of the specific purposes of our present educational system will show at least three things: first, how far the present directors of our schools are from an intelligent sociological view of education; second, some of the steps already taken by our most progressive educators to introduce socialized materials and methods; third, the urgent need of sociological aid in further elaborating ways and means of developing social-mindedness through school training. To get at the problem it is necessary to analyze the social aspects of the four specific objectives entering into our present educational aims, that is, the development of physical vitality, of cultural attainment, of vocational efficiency, and of social service.
SOCIAL ASPECTS OF PHYSICAL TRAINING
With regard to the first objective of education, the development of physical vitality, the individualistic conception alone has prevailed. A sound mind in a sound body, or more specifically a sound body for the sake of a sound mind, has been the avowed purpose of the educator. In order to attain organic soundness, physical fitness, and good health for each individual we have established gymnasiums, taught physiology and hygiene, condemned injurious habits, outlawed petty vices, and built up a medical profession. In the preliminary stages of all these the welfare of the individual was practically the sole aim. If the welfare of the social group entered into the public mind at all, it was only in a hazy and indefinite sort of way.
In recent years, however, as the intimacy of social contact has emphasized mutual dependence, there has been a growing tendency to think and talk about the public health, that is, to consider physi
cal well-being from the standpoint of the social group. It is realized that individual health and strength is no adequate defense against unsanitary conditions, monotony and overstrain in industry, or epidemics of contagious diseases. Something more than personal hygiene and individual physical fitness is required. We must have a social hygiene and social health control.
In pursuance of this new attitude we have developed an extensive body of regulative laws limiting the physical freedom of the individual for the physical protection of the group. Laws have been enacted establishing the eight- or nine-hour day, prohibiting child labor, requiring sanitary shops, forbidding the sale of impure food and drugs, enjoining vaccination, and supervising medical practitioners. Constructive social health measures are taken in the opening up of municipal and national parks, in providing public playgrounds and amusement centers, in establishing quarantine regulations, in draining swamps, and in constructing sewers. Public hospitals exist in every center of population, physicians are compelled both by social pressure and by statute law to attend to the needs of the poor, and it is scarcely an idle dream to look forward to the time when the whole field even of curative medicine will be socialized.
Still more social in its outlook is the plea for a sound physical heredity. We are evolving a program of eugenics which has up to date been primarily concerned with efforts to guarantee to coming generations a better physical foundation on which to build an efficient society. Marriage laws are being more carefully drawn, social diseases are being scientifically attacked, and efforts are being made to see that dependents, defectives, and delinquents have less opportunity to multiply their kind. While something is being done, and much more might be done to advance such a program by developing a sense of individual responsibility for guarding heredity, the classes of people who need to be prevented from reproduction cannot be reached by an individualistic appeal. Social regulation alone can attain the results desired, and this regulation must be based upon a social intelligence and a social conscience which do not now exist and probably never will exist until we have a more social type of education.
To lay an adequate foundation for this new field of legislation and to develop efficient social control over physical well-being it is necessary to begin with the young. As our school day and year lengthen and the average number of years of schooling increases, the school becomes a greater force in determining the social attitudes as well as the intelligence of our citizens. It therefore becomes increasingly important, not merely to develop sound bodies in our individual pupils and to teach personal hygiene, but to develop sane ideas of preserving the health of the larger group and to teach social hygiene. The youth must be trained, not merely to develop and conserve his own strength, but to safeguard that of his fellows. Just as proper habits of health are essential to individual welfare, so proper obedience to social health measures is essential to social welfare. Moreover, a mere knowledge of social hygiene will not accomplish the desired results. A social consciousness must be built up that will respond to public regulation, and a social conscience must be developed that will recognize and protect the rights of others. Since in the long run no law can be more effective than public opinion requires, it is necessary to see that individual will is reinforced by group imperatives. Health legislation and social hygiene will remain comparatively impotent until they have the support of a trained public mind, and the chief agency for developing that must be the public school.
That educators are beginning to recognize this is quite evident in their changed attitude toward physical training. Social hygiene is being emphasized even in the primary grades. Organized play is superseding the calisthenics and spasmodic semi-individualistic play of the past. Team games are succeeding individual contests. Quarantine regulations are being more strictly enforced. Publicschool physicians, dentists, and nurses are taking the place of the individual medical attention formerly received. The textbooks in physiology and hygiene are embodying much social material. Teachers are recognizing more fully their obligations to the public and are emphasizing the social responsibilities of the citizen in maintaining the public health. Many schools are models of sanitation, and certain cities, such as Gary, are looking after sick pupils better than they would be looked after at home. All of these things and
many more have been started in our highly socialized schools, but to make them still more effective and to universalize them it is necessary to imbue all educators with social ideals. It is not enough for sociologists to preach the value of a sound physical basis for social health and progress; they must take a real part in training public-school teachers into social attitudes and aid in reorganizing educational materials and methods for the purpose of improving social health control and racial stock.
SOCIAL ASPECTS OF CULTURE
With regard to the second objective of education, the attainment of culture, public opinion is scarcely less individualistic than with reference to the development of physical vitality. The education of the past has striven to produce cultivated individuals. When analyzed, the popular notion of culture breaks up into three partsaesthetic taste, refinement of manner, and moral idealism. Thus the cultivated individual has been expected to appreciate and know something of literature, music, and art, to possess some degree of grace, good manners, and self-control, and to have wholesome impulses, refined sentiments, and ethical attitudes. Nor can we question that the attainment of these things is a desirable end of cultural education. But it is not the only end. There is a social aspect of culture above and beyond these things. sess all of these individual characteristics and still fall short of cultivated citizenship. Since the school is a public institution, mere polished personality can never satisfy its cultural demands. Individual culture may be subjective and passive, social culture must be objective and active, and the culture for which a social institution stands must eventuate in social activities. The graduates of our schools should not merely exemplify individual culture; they should become active agents of group culture through institutional channels.
One might pos
The weakness of mere individualistic culture may be shown with reference to each of the elements mentioned above. With regard to the aesthetic nature one may possess excellent individual taste and yet show execrable social taste. He may have artistic ideas of dress and yet array himself in barbaric quixotism. Fashion may