NotesFAQContact Us
Search Tips
Peer reviewed Peer reviewed
PDF on ERIC Download full text
ERIC Number: EJ1046814
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2013
Pages: 13
Abstractor: ERIC
ISSN: EISSN-2327-3607
Social Foundations of Education for the Information Age
Waks, Leonard J.
Critical Questions in Education, v4 n2 p105-117 Spr 2013
In this paper, Leonard J. Waks re-imagines the social foundations of education (SFE) as a project within the information society. He begins with what he believes to be a reasonably non-controversial definition: SFE is a field of scholarship and teaching aiming to provide a comprehensive understanding, through description, interpretation, and social inquiry, of the educational institution of society and its relations with other institutions--economic, political, cultural, religious, familial, and social-structural. It seeks to understand education both as it has existed in various previous societies and as it exists today, and it seeks to understand the dynamics of institutional change--how various intrinsic and extrinsic factors cause it to shift from one form to another and from its present to some future state. It also seeks to understand the broader aims, purposes and values underlying education, to evaluate educational policies and organizations in light of those purposes, to critique existing policies and organizations, to prescribe desirable changes in them and--through publications, consultation and teaching--to assist education publics, professionals, and policy makers in bringing about these changes. Work in SFE is distinctly inter-disciplinary and trans-disciplinary. In engaging in its core tasks SFE draws upon the disciplines of history, sociology, philosophy, anthropology, economics, political science, and other disciplines as relevant. The philosophy, history, and sociology of education and other disciplines operating under the umbrella term "educational studies," contribute to SFE but neither define it nor are comprehended by it--these fields maintain distinct identities as sub-disciplines within social science and humanities disciplines. This is the field of SFE that the author has known and worked within for the last fifty years. It is the field as reflected in contemporary textbooks, and in course and program descriptions in university catalogs. Any effort to re-imagine SFE will have to remain bounded by such a definition--otherwise it will not be re-imagining SFE, but imagining a change from SFE to something else. Re-imagining SFE is itself an education project, and its place in a new social order is itself an SFE question. Waks characterizes this new information network social order with four key information webs: (1) the human web; (2) the knowledge web; (3) the learning web; and, (4) the work web--the network that allocates work opportunities based on capabilities acquired through the knowledge and learning webs. Waks describes how these learning webs have affected SFE and concludes that, if current trends continue, the foundations disciplines--philosophy, history and sociology and the others--will all but disappear in the pre-service preparation of teachers and in some ways will be a welcome development, as SFE scholars will be liberated from teaching required SFE courses to students who are academically underprepared and unmotivated.
Academy for Educational Studies. 2419 Berkeley Street, Springfield, MO 65804. Tel: 417-299-1560; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Grant or Contract Numbers: N/A