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The social system as part of the curriculum in an elementary school classroom

1 January 1996


According to John Dewey, the classroom must be a place where children develop their understanding about relationships between people and how to operate within a social system. The purpose of thus paper was to examine the social structure in a kindergarten classroom and how it is viewed by the teacher and the school in relationship to the formal educational curriculum.

The classroom was observed two days a week over the course of nine weeks. The paper includes a narrative account of these observations. The investigation revealed that the social structure has two components: a formal structure set by the teacher and the school and an informal structure that is developed by the students. In thus classroom, both the formal social structure and the informal structure are seen as lying outside of the realm of educational curriculum (information and skills that need to be learned) and are only utilized to maintain order in the class so that information and skills cap be learned.

The implication which emerges from this investigation is that, even with the effective . teaching of information and skills, a student may be left without the capacity for self-regulation and social responsibility they need to succeed as an adult, if they are not given the opportunity to learn and practice these social skills in the guided environment of the classroom.


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