School as a Socialization Agent
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School is the first place, as children that we begin to interact with others in a public environment. At school we meet new friends, learn our societys norms, as well as learn good moral values. It is also a very influential socialization agent in our life. A norm is what is generally accepted among society but not necessarily a law. For example not picking your nose at a restaurant is not a law but it is the norm and if you were to do so you would get some very disturbing looks. Values are what we learn as the right thing to do. Again these are not laws just values established through every one of our socialization agents. School taught me many crucial norms and values but they could not teach me every thing I needed to know to make my way through life, some things I did have to learn for myself.
As a child placed in private schools, since kindergarten, there was always a strong emphasis put on building excellent moral values. In the fourth grade we had a D.A.R.E. instructor come in and teach us that drugs were bad. At the time I did not give it any thought that I would actually encounter drugs in my life because I was so young. But when I was in high school and all my peers were using drugs and I never did I realized how affected I was by learning this moral value in the fourth grade. Another value that I learned later in my school years was to be a good father. As a sophomore in high school I signed up for a very easy class called Parenting. The only reason I was really taking this class is because I needed a humanities credit and I heard that this was the easiest way to get it. The first few weeks were a breeze but then I found out I would have to take home a fake baby that would have to be fed, changed, and would wake me up crying in the middle of the night. I was not very excited when I heard this; I was convinced that this would be a bad experience but it ended up changing my values. Now I feel as though being a responsible parent is very important and I have my school to thank for making me a better person.
School as a socialization agent also taught me many norms of our society one norm school taught me was to have good table manners. Since the first grade I was always told to keep my elbows of the table, not to talk with my mouth open, and many more forms of good table etiquette. Granted my mother had told me this many times also, but it had more of an effect on me when there were teachers telling me this, and I was also around my peers who influenced me as well. I am thankful I learned this norm early because now when I eat at an upscale restaurant I feel as though I fit in. Another norm that I was taught in school was not to pick my nose. This may sound obvious but you have to learn this somewhere and I happened to learn not do this through school. If I did not learn that this was an unacceptable behavior then people would view me as though I was strange and would not fit in to the norm of society.
One more example of a norm that I was taught through the school system that I went through is proper hygiene. This is a very important norm to learn because if you do not look clean or if you have an awkward smell then you do not fit the norm of how people view good hygiene and this could affect your life. For example if you did not use deodorant when you sweat you would give off an odor and for a first impression people would remember that you did not smell pleasant and would shun you away. Also if you are not clean shaven and have a shabby aprearence you could possibly be turned away from a job because you did not represent the company the way they want to be represented.
The norms and values stated above were a small percentage that I learned through school as a socialization agent and even though I learned many more norms in school there were some that I wished I learned that I did not. One of which was that our society views using foul language in front of women and children as breaking the norm. Unfortunately I did not learn this in school and it was a bad habit that I forced myself to change when I realized that this was a problem. I wish I had learned this earlier because I feel as though being polite to women has a strong effect on how they view you, and if I would have used more respectable language around women then maybe they would have viewed me as a kind hearted man and showed me more respect.
A value that I feel could have benefited me throughout my life was to respect your parents. I had a real problem respecting my mother at one point in my life because it seemed as though she was never around do to the fact she had to work so much since her and my father had separated. If I would have been taught in school the values of respecting your parents I feel that I would have listened to my mother more often and would not have gotten in trouble as much as I did my eighth grade year.
School as a socialization agent effected my life greatly and if it were not for the norms and values that I learned in school then there would be no way that I would have survived in society as well as I have. Without the norms that I was taught mostly as a child people would not accept me, and I would have been an outcast in my neighborhood and in any other social organizations I belonged to. If I had not been placed in such wonderful private schools that put so much emphasis on values then I fear I may have become a horrible person who did not show any respect for others and had no morals what so ever. I am thankful that school has taught me more things then just math, English, and science it has also taught me how to survive in a society that places so much pressure on people to be normal and if you stray from that norm at all you are looked down upon for your different actions.