Education plays a key role in structuring and shaping up society. It empowers individuals to adapt to social change. And supports them to play their varied roles efficiently.
There is a strong influence of society on the educational structure. And it certainly affects the ones learning environment immensely.
Let’s explore how does society affect the learning environment?
1- Formal and informal education
Learning is not confined to the walled boundaries of a school. Instead, it extends to numerous informal settings and in turn influences an individual’s holistic development. Our family, peer group, relatives, acquaintances, etc. are a part of this informal learning process. And there is a lasting impact of this learning on our overall personalities. Informal learning is often based on our experiences. And we pass on all that we acquire to our younger generations. Our ethics, values, morals, etc. are mostly acquired by informal learning opportunities. But, in this present age of digitalization, there are many more channels that help us with informal learning (like streaming platforms, websites, books, educational content, etc.).
In our family, there can be numerous examples of informal learning. Such as parents educating their children about table manners, or simply helping a younger one to ride/drive a vehicle. It is clear that society and its members affect our learning environment. And this process goes on and on with or without formal learning for an individual.
2- Society determines the learning pathway for advancement
It is a reality that our financial standing and identity play a vital role in our social lives. Hence, we all aim at improving our situations, and for this, we go the mile ahead and follow the trends prevalent in society. Our society influences our choices and learning preferences. And all this in turn influences our learning environment.
For instance, the market situations dominate our selection of learning pathways (like streams and disciplines). Hence, the learning environment also changes according to the needs and trends of the workforce.
According to credible sources, in India, engineering and technology domains have the highest employability rating (of 47%) in the year 2021. On the contrary, the same report shows an employability rating of only 25.02% after a polytechnic course (vocational). This article is about how does society affect the learning environment?
3- Society influences our views about learning
The learning environment around us is also a product of our own thoughts and beliefs.
A couple of decades ago, adulthood was synonymous with getting married and having kids. But the perception of learning and education has changed considerably in the present times. Today, the younger generations are focused on career growth rather than just getting married.
<According to a survey in 2020, 69.4% of the millennials with higher education or a vocation college course preferred getting married between 26 to 30 years of age.>
The recent global pandemic is a great example to cite. It has reiterated the importance of skills, education, and learning to cope up with the crisis time. Covid-19 has also created a huge gap between the aspirations and realities of the job markets. Hence, the complexities of life have continuously grown in leaps and bounds tarnishing the peace of mind.
The post-Covid complex scenario has aggravated the hardships of general life. And especially in developing countries like India, financial independence is now more important than any other aspect of life.
<According to the Times of India, the income of 97% of our Indian households has declined since 2020. And the unemployment rate is 12.4% (15.1% in urban and 11.2% in rural areas)>
4- The societal impact of the unforeseen circumstances
Unforeseen circumstances such as pandemic lockdowns, economic uncertainty also affect the way we learn. Off late, Indian society has accepted an all-new learning environment through online schooling and digital learning.
It is clear that the Indian stakeholders have embraced virtual learning. And this paradigm shift has completely changed our learning environment for good.
<As per a detailed report by KPMG, online education in India is estimated to grow to USD 1.96 billion in the next five years. And the number of paid users will increase from 1.6 million (in 2016) to 9.6 million (in 2021), at a compound annual growth rate of 52%.>
Other than this, the impact of such incidents/happenings in society also deepens the challenges related to learning. For example- The recent Covid crisis created a huge learning loss for our Indian students who could not even access online schooling
These incidents also deprive students of the right learning environment. As prior to the pandemic, over 6 million children (both boys and girls) were already out-of-school. And later during the shutdown in 2020, 247 million students (from elementary and secondary schools) in India were impacted.
5- Cultural influences
Our socio-cultural background largely determines what and how we learn. And in this way, cultural influences affect our learning environment. The cultural knowledge that we acquire creates an impact on our thinking capabilities. Besides, our social living, traditions, customs, etc. also shape up our beliefs and moral values.
Culture plays a vital role in social change. Hence, our policymakers also focus on culturally acceptable outcomes while designing reforms/frameworks/policies.
6- Educational Reforms
Another important factor that affects our learning is the change brought within society through educational reforms. These policies/reforms change the core values of our society. And this in turn changes our learning environment.
Off late, the recent Education Policy in the year 2020 aimed at a radical reconstruction of our education system. And the reforms suggested by the policymakers shifted the entire focus of the learning environment from the ‘teacher’ to the ‘taught’ by visualizing a student-centric educational system.
We do not have much control over social, political, and many other aspects. However, we can still choose to stick to only the positive influences of society on the learning environment.
Our society supports learning through formal, non-formal, and informal ways. And it certainly influences our learning environment in numerous positive and negative ways!
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