The term ‘School’ originated from the Greek word ‘Skhole’ which means ‘leisure’? The reason of associating ‘leisure’ with school is that, in Ancient Greece, liberal education was not imparted to all.
It was a privilege of the highest class in society which had enough leisure to cultivate the specialised aspects of culture through liberal education. Today, school stands for a specialised and formal agency set up by the society for imparting education to the rising generations.
(A) Origin of School as an Educational Agency
In olden times, when the social life was very simple, the family provided the child with all the activities and experience he needed. Then, so long as occupations were centred round home or village, the family, the church and the local community served as a school for life.
The children learnt by imitating the work and life process of their parents and neighbours. But, by and by as the society became more complex with the growth of civilization, and as human knowledge and experiences grew in written from, home or family and other informal agencies of education were found inadequate for the efficient transmission of culture heritage to the future generation.
Thus arose the necessity of a formal agency of education called the school. By and by, the knowledge and skills secured by the children became so complex that it became rather impossible for the home to transmit the same to the children. Thus, education of children became a specialised occupation of those persons who were highly learned and qualified for discharging this function efficiently.
These persons began to be known as teachers, and the agency through which the teachers imparted education to the children came to be known as School. In recent times, the school has assumed a very comprehensive role so much so that the functions of the family and the community have also fallen on the school. Now, the school has to discharge not only its own educational functions, but also to provide what home and community provided in the past.
“The school has to provide total education, i.e. education for knowledge, for skills, for understanding, for culture, for making a contribution, for a sense of belonging, for attitudes and for a proper orientation to the modern world.” Moreover, with the coming in of democracy, universal education has not only become a necessity in the modern world, but also an accepted social ideal. So, the school is required to discharge very important functions in modern society. I
(B) Important Functions of the School
1. Conservation and Perpetuation of Society.
One of the most important functions of school is to maintain the continuity of social lift by handing down traditions, experiences, values and customs of the society; from one generation to the other. The progress of the society depends upon the transmission of knowledge and skills from one generation to the next. This important function is faithfully and efficiently performed by the school.
2. Promotion of Culture and Civilization.
The school not only transmits the cultural heritage to the rising generation, it also helps to promote culture and civilization. An Cannon has said, “If each generation had to learn for itself what has been learned by its predecessors, no sort of intellectual or social development would be possible and the present state of society would be little different from the society of the old stone-age.”
Thus the school performs the important function constantly re-organising and re-structuring human experiences for the promotion of culture and civilization.
3. All-round Development of the Individual.
The functions and responsibilities of school have increased manifold during the recent years. Its function is no longer the transmission of the knowledge of 3 R’s as the concept of education has developed and become more comprehensive the school has to assume a more comprehensive role.
Now, the school aims at the development of the whole personality of the child. Education is now defined as all round development of the personality of the child, physically, intellectually, morally, socially and spiritually. Through its curricular and co-curricular activities, the school caters to the child’s social, constructive, artistic and other impulses. Thus, the child not only acquires knowledge, but also develops the requisite habits, skills and attitudes. In this way, the school helps to bring about all round development of the child’s personality.
4. Promotion of Social Efficiency.
To lead a successful life in the modern society the individuals must acquire social efficiency. In a democratic society, the children must be trained in the democratic ways of life through education and the school programmes must be planned accordingly.
Training for effective participation in a democratic society and cultivation of a planned sense of rights and duties is an important function of the school. This is done by the school by having a clear concept of democratic ideals, and then directing the educational programmes accordingly.
5. Adjustability in Society.
John Dewey says, “We send children to school to learn in a systematic way the occupations which constitute living.” Brown says that, “The school has a direct responsibility of preparing the individual child for post-school adjustments.” A child spends a period of his life in school. After completing his school education, he is generally to adjust himself in the society outside the school to the best of his capability and capacity.
If this adjustment is proper, the school has succeeded in its aims and objectives. So, one of the main functions of the school is to turn out of its portals such young men and young women as may adjust themselves properly and usefully and lead successful lives on private, public and professional levels.
6. Introduction of Higher Values of Life.
No progress of education is complete without the inculcation of higher values of life in the pupils. Moral and religious education which was formerly imparted by the family and the church is now also the responsibility of the school. So along with the social, economic and democratic ideals, the school is also to develop moral sense of the children, so that they may be able to distinguish between right and wrong, virtue and vice, and also act upon the right and moral path of action. Thus, school education must develop in the children the moral, spiritual and higher values of life.