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Power Dynamics

Roles in the
Informal System
The Educational “Climate” &
School Effectiveness
• Climate refers to a general social condition
that characterizes a group, organization /
community, such as the general opinion in a
• climate and culture are the unofficial
happenings and the atmosphere that
pervade each educational setting – warm &
accepting, strict & intolerant, large and
• early research indicated that attention to
the school climate could influence student
academic achievement
• therefore, understanding conditions or
environment needed to maximise student
• The climate/atmosphere of schools &
classrooms includes the schools
architecture, type of classroom, ability &
age grouping and other aspects of the
• The value climate influences motivations,
aspirations and achievement of students
• Schools teach more than reading, writing
and arithmetic. Both the formal and informal
organization includes lessons in values and
• Though lessons in Morals came up within the
curriculum content of other subjects, seldom
was the purpose of a lesson to instil with
moral content
• Moral education came in other forms such
The environment/atmosphere, something intangible
forms the school climate.
• School Culture (part of school climate)
• consists of values, beliefs, norms, and customs of
those making up the system
• is to bring about a group feeling of loyalty
• pep rallies, cheering at athletic events, assemblies,
singing – constitute ceremonies common to most
schools (but it is unique)
• norms in both school and a larger culture encourages
the distance between teachers and students
• teachers represent the culture of the adult society and
the dominant group – students have more limited
cultural boundary centered on age- peer group, school
and local community
• teachers are considered ‘different’ by students
• students make their own culture, which is passed on to
each new generation entering the school -: involves
language, dress, humour, music, games and hazing
School Learning Climate

• ‘the normative attitudinal & behaviour

patterns in a school which impact on the
level of academic achievement of the
student body as a whole’ – teacher
expectations, academic norms, students’
sense of futility, role definitions, grouping
patterns and instructional practices

• the concept of effective schools addresses

both formal structural variables & informal
climate variables, recognizing the
interrelationship between the two
• positive school climate emphasizes &
rewards academic achievement, the
importance scholastic success, and the
maintenance of order & fair discipline
• complementing these should be positive
home-school relations: a supportive home
environment for students, involvement of
parents with the school, & support of
students doing homework
• these relationships within the school &
classroom context make up the system of
education that must be manipulated at the
local, state and national levels to improve
schools & make them more effective
 The class has often described & viewed as a
self-contained system, sealed off from society
 Psychologists & Sociologists have
concentrated on the ‘one teacher-many
students’ model
 The dynamics of classroom behaviour cannot
be understood unless the importance of the
environment is recognized
 The learning climate is made up of routines
imposed on students in classrooms in order to
maintain control & discipline
 Children must begin to acquire behaviours &
attitudes necessary for classroom learning
before coming to school
 Problems in families, lack of discipline in some
 Students understand their classroom experiences in
many diff. ways, most of which are influenced by
relations among students – especially for early
adolescents, social & personal development needs
suggest that cooperative learning activities are
important & effective
 Classroom climate can produce anti school feelings,
especially in competitive, restrictive classrooms/ it
can produce students who are motivated toward self-
improvement, academic success & enjoyment of

– Classroom Codes: Interaction in the

 the type & extent of classroom interaction is related
to teacher styles, which can be grouped into 3 types:
 AUTHORITARIAN : Formal Power is vested & used by
 the daily student-teacher interactions &
interpersonal relations determine the
atmosphere of the classroom
 The classroom dynamics (the rules that govern
interaction, power relationships between
teachers- students & how these relate to the
social class of students) lead to the social
reproduction of class.
 Classrooms have interaction ‘codes’ – rules,
practises, & agencies regulating communication
that determine e the distribution of power
 Code refers to a ‘regulative principle which
underlies various message systems, especially
curriculum & pedagogy’
 Pedagogy refers to the transmission of
knowledge, usually through structured curricula
 Among the codes are hierarchy – the interaction
between transmitter (teacher) & the acquirer
(student); the sequencing & pacing / progression
 Who students ‘hang-out’ with is an important part of
the informal experience in schools.
 These friendship patterns affect each student’s
peer-group affiliation and in turn aspirations for
educational attainment.
 Student friendship patterns and interaction vary
depending on whether the classroom is structured in
an open or traditional manner.
 Open, flexible, and democratic classrooms stress the
affective or emotional growth of students, whereas
traditional classrooms are teacher centered & often
stress the basics.
 Students in open classes had fewer best friends but
more general friendship where else in traditional
 All children need social peers & close friends to feel
that they belong; to the extent that teachers can
facilitate these relationships, children’s
achievement may improve.
 There are clear differences between female and
male popularity & friendship patterns: Females are
closely knit & egalitarian, sharing intimacies &
problems; Males are loosely knit, with clear status
hierarchies based on shared activities such as
 The organizational structure of a school can also
affect interactions.
 Interracial friendships are important as a training
ground for future work environments and as an
influence on college aspirations & attendance – the
closer the peers, the greater the influence,
especially in the same track and gender.
 Teachers often manipulate the classroom situation
in order to have better control over interaction
Seating arrangements &
Physical conditions in
classrooms and schools
 A persistent question in the field of school facilities
planning is the relationship between the building
environment & the performance & behaviour of
users, particularly students.
 Evidence points to the influence of classroom
structure & school conditions in the achievement of
 The location of a student’s seat affects both that
student’s behaviour and the teacher’s attitude
toward the student.
 Students focus better on individual tasks when they
are in rows.
 For some tasks, sofas and effective room décor,
 Attention has also been paid to the physical
conditions that produce the best working
conditions, including open-space programs, school
building age, thermal factors, visual factors, colour
and interior painting, hearing factors, building
maintenance etc.
 Researchers found that the most important factors
affecting student performance & achievement were
the thermal environment, lighting, adequate space,
and equipment & furnishings, especially in science
 Other factors, such as types of seats, wall colour,
shape of room, music & noise level in & outside the
classroom, all have some affect on learning, though
evidence in this field is scanty.
 Concerns about classroom & school health hazards
abound. Some research (GAO) been made and
found out in US, 1 in 8 schools is old, dilapidated,
and in poor condition for learning and 25% lack of
Size of school and classroom
 One assumes that ‘smaller is better’ in the classroom – that
smaller class meant fewer problems, more interaction &
communication between teachers and students. (Research
revealed that reduced class size increased achievement &
improved instruction.)
 However, teachers do not take advantage of the smaller class
size to create climates more conducive to learning(Galton, 1998);
teacher training is important to maximise learning potential in
small classes.
 Students can play a more active role in school life, and interact
more informally with teachers & administrators in smaller
 In contrast, the climate in large schools leads students to be
more passive with adults, to be followers, to depend on others to
manage their affairs, and to have fewer leadership opportunities.
 Percentage of participation decreased with increased size of the
 Certain types of activities, such as hobby clubs, can increase in
size to include any number, but other activities-athletic teams,
music & drama-are inelastic; students attending larger schools
are at a disadvantage because a smaller percentage of the
school population can participate.
Architecture of schools
 Architectural designs reflect the purpose that a building is to
serve; in turn, the design influences activities within a building,
and how these will interact with surrounding activities &
 School architectural style & sites make schools stand out
among buildings, indicating their distinct function.
 Whether school buildings are squeezed between other
buildings or located on sprawling campuses, their fenced-in
area or other physical separation distinguishes them from the
community at large.
 Some educators object to this physical isolation from the
surrounding community.
 Separation isolates schools from valuable interactions with the
wider community.
 Yet it serves the function of concentrating students in
one place for one specific activity.
 A school is composed of many dynamic parts that fir
together, from buildings that make possible certain
interaction patterns to the atmosphere/climates that
influence the learning process.
 All these are part of the complex informal system of