Academic journal article Journal of New Approaches in Educational Research

Predictive Value of Social Skills in Living Together at Primary School. Analysis in a Cultural Diversity Context

Academic journal article Journal of New Approaches in Educational Research

Predictive Value of Social Skills in Living Together at Primary School. Analysis in a Cultural Diversity Context

Article excerpt

1 INTRODUCTION

"And this is because there is no possibility of living without living together" (Jares, 2006, p. 11).

One of the aims of the education system nowadays is to achieve the full development of the personality and abilities of the students. Even though this implies working on their cognitive or intellectual development, it also means, in line with this integral vision of the human being, to enhance their emotional, motor, social and moral skills. In this sense, living together at school has become one of the main goals of education in order to promote the process by which all members of the school community learn to live with each other (Carretero, 2008). From this perspective, as expressed by Ortega (2007), coexisting or living together at school is to be understood, not merely as the absence of violence, but mainly as the establishment of satisfying interpersonal and group relations, an aspect that is intrinsically linked to that teaching and learning of social skills. Although the various organic laws which have regulated the Spanish education system have echoed these concerns, it was not until the passage of the Organic Law on Education 2/2006 of May 3 (LOE) that a firm commitment on educating for a positive coexistence at school was made and, consequently, on the promotion and enhancement of the social competence of students. Previously the research and practical attention had been focused on the cognitive and intellectual aspects more closely related to academic success, leaving at the mercy of the teacher's discretion everything that had to do with the social and the personal competence of students, and with a learning content that was integrated into what is known as the hidden curriculum.

The LOE (2006) does indeed contain many references about living together at school, democratic citizenship and conflict resolution and prevention (Jares, 2006). In its Preamble it already mentions the practice of tolerance and freedom within the democratic principles of coexistence and conflict prevention and their peaceful resolution. It also highlights, in relation to the curriculum, the incorporation of the new subject Education for Citizenship and Human Rights. Additionally, the value of living together at school is collected not only among its main objectives and principles, but also through the specific objectives pursued, among other levels of education, in preschool education (Art. 13) and primary education (Art. 17). As stated in Ramírez and Justicia (2006), the consideration of educational institutions as the places in which to teach young people to live together and thus to give them the necessary social skills to contribute to the the full process of their social and personal development is due, among other factors, to the increase in the amount of time that students must remain in the educational system as well as the higher professional qualifications of the educational community needs to make teaching and learning of social skills a real program of direct deliberate and systematic intervention (Jares, 2006; Ortega & Del Rey, 2004).

Consequently, variables of a social nature are considered today one of the main determining factors of behavior or of the mode of action of individuals (Vázquez, Fariña, & Seijo, 2003). In this regard, numerous studies highlight the importance of social skills in child development and their subsequent psychological, academic and social adjustment, (Delgado & Contreras, 2008; Monjas, 2009; Seijo, Novo, Arce, Fariña, & Mesa, 2005). If we take these views into account, it should be noted that if the goal of education is to promote the integral development of students, it is necessary to take into account within the school environment the area of interpersonal competences and the teaching and formation of social skills through their inclusion in the curriculum (Monjas & González, 2000), which, as has been claimed by several authors, is a clear indicator of the school life quality and of the prevention of violence and any other disruptive events that could affect it (Beck & Forehand, 1984; Caballo, 1993, Gresham, 1988). …

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