“Changing the behaviour of individuals is not enough; education must seek to modify community patterns of behaviour through close and constant interaction with the total culture of community.”
Community or society has an important role to play as an agency of education. A child is to live and grow in society. He must be educated to preserve and utilise the achievements of the society to which he belongs. It is the community or the society which inculcates and fosters the spirit and culture and education among all its members.
(a) What is a community?
Community has all along been understood by different people in different ways. A few definitions are given below.
1. A Social group.
“A community is a social group with some degree of well feeling and with definite human boundaries.”
2. Cook and Cook’s View.
Cook and Cook have interpreted a community as “an organised way of life within a geographic area. It is, in more detail, population aggregate inhabiting a delimit able area, sharing historical heritage, possessing a set of basic institutions, participating in a common life, conscious of local unity, and able to act together in solving problems which involve the public interest.
3. Bromwel defines a community in these words: “By a community I mean a small, diversified group of people-young and old, male and female, with different skills and abilities, living together as kin neighbours. It is a face to face, primary group, in which many of the major functions of life are carried on co-operatively within the group itself.”
4. Another view.
A community “is a group of families, settled in a village or a town and bound together with more or less common practices, ideas, values and culture….Each community is a part of a bigger community, called the State or the Nation.”
(b) Characteristics of the Community or the Society.
In addition to qualities already specified in Cook’s definition of the community, the following attributes may also be counted.
1. The sense of belongingness or loyalty of the residents. Each member of the community generally identifies himself with common symbols of his home, town or city. This identification is more emotional than rational.
2. Common social heritage. Each community or society has its own common social and cultural heritage. It is the accumulated social experience which is preserved and transmitted from generation to generation in the form of traditions and values. It is this common social heritage which gives a particular community its unique character.
3. Functioning social organisation. In a community, a number of social organisations exist. They help all its members to maintain face to face associations of neighborly relations. These social organisations, on the one hand,, help the members in the individual progress, and secondly, assure them of mutual aid.
4. Relative economic self sufficiency. Every group is dependent upon the other groups; but dependence is a matter of degree only. The Community or society is relatively self- contained in its hour by hour, and day by day economic routine. Its boundaries are often, and realistically, described in terms ‘Grade Area’.