The Social Psychology of the Primary School

The Social Psychology of the Primary School

The Social Psychology of the Primary School

The Social Psychology of the Primary School


Colin Rogers and Peter Kutnick reassess the role of social psychology in educational practice for the primary classroom. They offer an analysis of the ways in which the process and structure of classroom life affect the interpersonal and academic outcomes of schooling. Social schooling is seen to have a crucial role to play in achieving effective teaching and meaningful learning, while promoting other useful developments in the primary classroom. The authors study classroom interaction and relationships and consider how these might be structured for the best outcomes. With so much attention being focused recently on the National Curriculum, the authors provide a balance for the current curricula-orientated view of teaching by improving understanding of how curricula are implemented in the classroom. Motivation and the social development of primary age children are covered as well as relationships and social interaction in the classroom, gender and special educational needs.


Peter Kutnick and Colin Rogers

In this edited book we bring together a number of concerns and interests which will be relevant to teachers and researchers of the primary school. The book is a product of current research and practice in the primary school, and many of the themes pursued here could not have been undertaken until this point in time. The book acknowledges that classroom practice has come a long way from the traditional teaching strategies criticized in the Plowden Report (1967). We rarely find exces-sively formal classrooms which have been linked to stratified results (such as discrimination by social class, gender and stature of primary school). Yet current studies show that the move to action-oriented and child-centred classrooms has not (unambiguously) led to expected successful results (of equal educational enhancement for all pupils). In analysing and explaining this ambiguity, discussion has shifted to classroom processes which may affect the quality of the educational product.

In relating social psychology to educational practice in the primary school we are mindful to take a ‘balanced view’. The balance draws upon descriptions of educational practice, social psychological theory, analytic tools and processes in social psychology, and the malleability of the classroom (the ability to experiment and change practice). The timing and presentation of this book will be apparent as it draws upon recent studies of classroom practice and educational concerns in Britain. It cannot present all practice and all theory, but focuses on up-to-date concerns of grouping, social interaction, classroom talk, motivation and development of the child. Social psychological issues are chosen to represent classroom processes in a social context; even though the product of schooling is usually presented in terms of the individual pupil, that product cannot be divorced from the social processes of the classroom.

The current educational climate dictated by the Educational Reform Act (1988) establishes a national curriculum and diagnostic testing of individual attainment of that curriculum. We fear that teachers may become overwhelmed with concerns of integrating and establishing the new curriculum. But the curriculum can only be applied through processes of teaching and learning. While the Education Reform Act has a distinct product in mind, teachers will still be reliant on grouping strategies and patterns of teacher-pupil and peer interactions to achieve the curricular products. Classroom processes are common to all of the separate curricula being pursued in the Act.

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