School of Educational Foundations, Leadership and Policy
Educational Foundations & Inquiry (EDFI)
Social Foundations of Education
WHAT IS SOCIAL FOUNDATIONS OF EDUCATION?
Social Foundations of Education draws upon several disciplines and fields to examine education, namely history, philosophy, comparative/ international education, cultural studies, sociology, and political science. Social Foundations inquiry helps to sharpen students’ capacities to understand, analyze, and explain educational issues, policies, and practices in order to improve education.
Thus, the purpose of Social Foundations study is to draw upon these humanities and social science disciplines to develop students’ interpretive, normative, and critical perspectives on education, both inside and outside of schools (Council for Social Foundations of Education, 1996, 2004). The development of such perspectives helps educators to “exercise sensitive judgments amidst competing cultural and education values and beliefs” (CSFE, 1996).
Rather than reducing education to a formula for best practice, courses in the Social Foundations of Education challenge students to think deeply about the relationships between education (formal and informal) and society(ies) at large. Social Foundations encourages educators to use “critical judgment to question educational assumptions and arrangements and to identify contradictions and inconsistencies among social and educational values, policies, and practices” (CSFE, 2004).
What are interpretive, normative, and critical perspectives?
Each perspective or method of inquiry is described as follows:
Interpretive perspective: Students use concepts and theories from the humanities and social sciences to examine educational phenomena. Social Foundations perspectives (comparative, cultural, historical, and philosophical) are applied to examine and analyze an educational aspect or issue and these perspectives affect the meaning and interpretation of that educational issue.
Normative perspective: Students examine education in relation to differing value orientations and assumptions about schooling and education. Educational issues, policies, and practices are examined in light of differing value positions and students engage in reflection and development of their own values about education (Kubow & Fossum, 2007).
Critical perspective: Students develop the ability to question the contradictions and inconsistencies among educational values, policies, and practices.
How important are these Social Foundations of Education perspectives to teacher professional standards?
These perspectives are not only important to the development of pre-service and in-service educators but also central to the professional standards promoted by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) and the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS). Thus, all preparation programs for prospective teachers and other professional educators must include study in the Social Foundations of Education.
Principle #1: The educator has acquired a knowledge base of resources, theories, distinctions, and analytic techniques developed within the humanities, the social sciences, and the foundations of education. That is, the educator has developed habits of using this knowledge base in evaluating and formulating educational practice.
Principle #2: The educator understands and can apply normative perspectives on education and schooling. That is, the educator understands and employs value orientations and ethical perspectives in analyzing and interpreting educational ideas, issues, and practices.
Principle #3: The educator understands and can apply critical perspectives on education and schooling. That is, the educator has developed habits of critically examining educational practice in light of this knowledge base.
Principle #4: The educator understands how moral principles related to democratic institutions can inform and direct schooling practice, leadership, and governance. That is, the educator understands how knowledge from Social Foundations of Education illuminates the conditions that support education in a democratic society.
Principle #5: The educator understands the significance of diversity in a democratic society and how that bears on instruction, school leadership, and governance. That is, the educator understands how social and cultural differences originating outside the classroom and school affect student learning and how educational understanding includes sensitivity to human potentials and differences.
Principle #6: The educator understands how philosophical and moral commitments affect the process of evaluation at all levels of schooling practice, leadership, and governance. That is, the educator can articulate the moral and philosophical assumptions underlying evaluation measures or processes.
COURSES IN SOCIAL FOUNDATIONS OF EDUCATION
EDFI 4080: Education in a Pluralistic Society
Critical examination of the relationship between education and a democratic society. Survey of major theories, concepts, and issues of contemporary education, with particular attention to culture and its importance to schooling. Development of a personal philosophy of education informed by debates on multiculturalism and equity.
EDFI 6000: Philosophy of Education
Philosophical examination of issues pertinent to educational theory and practice. Readings of influential work in classical and contemporary philosophy, educational theory, and adjacent disciplines. Reading list varies depending upon the course focus.
EDFI 6010: Comparative Education
Comparative study and critique of the role of education in national and global development. Emphasis on the interrelationship between cultural, economic, and political factors and the roles of education in selected developed and developing nations.
EDFI 6020: History of Education
Historical background of contemporary educational theory, practice, and reform. Emphasis on diversity of experience, institutional development, and the relationship between social change and education. Students are encouraged to develop focused research projects related to their professional and academic interests.
EDFI 6030: Cultural Studies in Education
An interdisciplinary introduction to the concept of culture and its relation to education; cross-cultural and international education; globalization; text and language; immigration and displacement; human possibility, subjectivity and identity.
EDFI 7010: Comparative Higher Education
An international, cross-cultural examination and analysis of educational issues and reforms in higher education.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT EDFI 4080: EDUCATION IN A PLURALISTIC SOCIETY