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The Social Construction of Students, Essay Example

Pages: 1

Words: 1391

Essay

Introduction and Thesis

The education sector has continued to pave the way for an increasing number of students to excel and influence the world. However, with this change, the concept of the student has also come to undergo major changes, especially in regards to society’s perception of them. In particular, the student has come to be seen as an emerging individual capable of power and transformation, and such a concept is conducive to aspects such as the flourishing of individuals and social justice holistically. The social construction of such a concept, the major issues associated with it, and a personal evaluation of this concept will be discussed herein.

Social Construction of Students

According to Ian Hacking’s book, there is a particular theory of social construction known as ‘the looping effect’1. As a social construction, referring to the way our minds create a perception of an object or person, the looping effect occurs when certain perceptions that we hold for certain people continue to change as our interaction with them increases, and our perception of these people reflects a character that is not synonymous with the actual person or people.

This looping effect is seen in the concept of the student today. Many influencers in the student’s life, such as parents, teachers, friends, and the like, hold different perceptions of what the student represents, rather than who the student is. Although some of these perceptions may be positive, as teachers may see the student as an influential leader before they actually become one, others’ perceptions may not be as positive, but rather negative. These perceptions can also have a direct or indirect effect on the student themselves, as these perceptions may mould their character.

Furthermore, when the population in general, namely society, begins to ‘make up people’, as Hacking infers, the whole student body is affected. Students are often seen as the pioneers of future generations; and rightly so. However, this may put increasing pressure or an added burden on students, who already have many personal role models that they aspire to be like and strive to emulate.

Social construction, therefore, is seen as a negative influence that seeks to remove the student’s personal perspectives from view, and replaces them with other views not their own. This forms the looping effect, which transfers from person to person. Though it may begin as a positive perspective, it can just as quickly turn into a negative influence, and society as a whole needs to be aware of such an impact.

Major Issues in Teachers’ Roles

Transitioning from the student’s role in education, the teacher’s role is just as important, as aforementioned, in shaping the character of the next generation. However, in recent times, there have been major issues developing in regards to teachers’ roles and their impact in the classroom and society holistically. There are four main issues, being the testing of teachers, academic drift, the destroying of education, and merit-based pay.

Firstly, teachers are now being tested in regards to their teaching abilities in response to a recent study, which shows that students’ are spending longer amounts of time studying and less time understanding2. In addition, there have been many contributors to this cause, such as demanding workloads, lack of suitable preparation for careers, and little motivation given for students to excel.

Unfortunately, this has led to students knowledge becoming almost non-existent, as there are more and more students who do not know what they are studying, or how to improve. Senior educators need to invest in their students in order to make them more motivated and better prepared for the future. Teachers are now being urged to revise their roles as teachers, in the truest sense of the word, by employing teaching tactics that are both informative and practical for the student and the teacher alike.

Secondly, the ‘academically adrift’ state of many colleges and universities, as shown by the study undertaken by Richard Arum and Josipa Roksa, show that many educators are trading proper content for higher student-classroom evaluations3. This trend shows an alarming number of teachers that teach very little, grade students’ paper quite easily, and make the classroom a playground, in order to be rated highly and continue the same method for the next class of graduating students. The result is that student learning is nowhere to be found, and the students themselves are left unprepared for the real world.

These methods are highly inadequate for leading colleges, which are supposed to be at the pinnacle of learning. For students to be better equipped for becoming leaders, this trend needs to be reversed, so that students actually learn and understand the content that they are being taught, and teachers in turn gain higher satisfaction rating as a result.

Thirdly, education is seen to slowly being eroded from the inside, due to a myriad of internal and also external issues. According to the author, lower costs mean less educated teachers, the curriculum has become more narrow and regimented, and schools and colleges all over the country are repeating this cycle in every new batch of students4.

Such an unwarranted agenda has taken classrooms captive, and society is paying the price. More and more students are finding themselves incapable of handling real responsibility upon graduation, which has led to un-experienced students. For this to stop, teachers must return to more traditional methods of teaching, and investors must consider the greater good of education, rather than their own personal interests

Lastly, merit-based pay has become a viable option for the education sector, in order to solve the educational reliance upon a federal program5. As introduced by the President, teachers that do not improve will not continue to teach, and those educators that embrace the system will be rewarded.

Such grants would also be distributed in schools and colleges, and standards in core subjects would have to raised as well. The curriculum and syllabus of almost all schools throughout the country need to be improved, in order for students to understand what they are learning, and teachers to do a better job in the classroom. This would address the growing need for an overhaul of the education sector, a restructuring of teachers’ capabilities, and the remodelling of student learning.

Evaluation of Social Construction

In an individual sense, the student concept has undergone a complete revolution, in terms of individual flourishing and social justice. No longer does the student have an obligation to merely be educated, but rather to make a difference in their own unique way. Education is seen as the foundation of every student’s life, and with such a social construction, this evidently leads to some sort of endeavour in social justice.

Although this is not always apparent, students are more aware of the capability they possess to make a difference in their society, and the world at large. This is seen in the number of graduating students who move into important management positions at a very young age, and with such a position of influence comes the responsibility to make life easier for those around them.

In regards to the major issues surrounding the student and its related concept, the onus on the student is the same responsibility that is on the teacher: both need to understand the importance of true education. Many of the problems that the education sector is facing are due to this inherent misconception. The aforementioned loophole effect is also the root cause of such a misconception.

Many of the aforementioned issues, such as the testing of teachers, academic drift, the destroying of education, and merit-based pay, rely upon the content of education as being discussed and taught in the classroom. Such content needs to be redesigned, reformatted and re-evaluated, in terms of the traditional view of teaching, when history, mathematics, and English literature in particular were taught fundamentally in a way that expounded on technique and taught students to understand the underlying basis of theory and practice.

For the student to flourish, the necessary tools, resources and influencers are needed to assist in the making of a positive experience. When this is possible, the student is enabled to reach the pinnacle of education and the end goal of teachers’ aspirations: to become the major difference the world is seeking.

Conclusion

In summary, the student has come to be seen as an emerging individual capable of power and transformation, and such a concept is conducive to aspects such as the flourishing of individuals and social justice, in a holistic sense.

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