Do Schools Socialize our Children?



Children spend a minimum of 108 days annually in learning institutions. The purpose of this paper is to examine whether schools socialize our children. The idea is to discuss the importance of socialization across the globe and consider the different aspects of socialization such as ethnic groups, people, and gender. Besides, this work focuses on the school as an essential agent of socialization. 


Socialization is the way in which individuals interact socially throughout their life to be able to get their self-identity and acquire mental, physical, and social skills they need to survive in the society (Thornton, 2013). The main reasons why Socialization is essential worldwide are survival and human development. Human beings need other people, and institutions to teach them the skills they need to become a part of the society. There are different aspects of socialization. The type of socialization that involves particular messages and practices on the male or female nature within the community is referred to as gender socialization (Chapin & Barlow, 2016). Socialization meant to educate people on the nature of their racial or ethnic status is known as racial socialization (Aronfreed, 2013). These people, groups, and institutions are called agents of socialization. Examples of agent’s socialization include the school, family and peer groups. This paper aims to answer the question discuss whether schools help to socialize our children. 

Why we chose this topic

The schools are the first institution we take our children to interact with other people. Children meet new friends at school and learn the ways of the society regarding the acceptable norms. It is also the place where children are trained on ethical, moral values. Therefore, the school is an essential agent of socialization in a child’s life, and that is why we chose it.

Literature review

In the past 20 years, there has been increased interest in the school as a primary agent of socialization. Psychological and educational literature has focused so much on how the school contributes towards the socialization of children. Over the years, scholars have noted that more and more parents today carefully choose the school they take their children (Chapin & Barlow, 2016). Parents want their children to study in an environment where they can develop and improve their socialization skills. Few studies have looked at whether schools help to socialize the children. 

Why is socialization important Around the Globe?

Socialization links individuals and the society. Through it, people develop their human potential and learn how to think, talk and act in a way that promotes social living. Individual survival and human development greatly rely on socialization (Röder, Rösler & Trommsdorff, 2014). The various people that one interact with from an early age help someone to establish his identity (Aronfreed, 2013).  This is especially true for the first three years of one’s life where children acquire a unique personality and learn to walk and manipulate things. This stage of life is where someone develops cognitive tools for thinking, practical communication skills and how to analyze different situations (Röder, Rösler, & Trommsdorff, 2014). This young stage of life is the first step towards a long journey of socialization that helps human beings to be assimilated into a social and cultural system that is complicated. 

Socialization significantly contributes to the survival and stability of the society (Chapin & Barlow, 2016). The society has a social structure which must be maintained to ensure it does not die. Socialization helps the members of a community learn how to do this. Individuals have their basic needs and desires, and the social structure has its needs too. Socialization comes in to help find a balance between the needs of individuals and social structure (Thornton, 2013). When members of a society conform to its norms with the belief that it is what is best for them, this makes socialization very efficient. In a way, socialization is the key to a society reproducing itself through the educating next generations about their culture. The manner in which members teach the subsequent generations about values, beliefs, and rules has changed over time. However, some similarities stills exist in many nations even though the information is different from one society to another. The culture in which somebody grows up contributes towards how they walk, talk, eat and act (Röder, Rösler, & Trommsdorff, 2014). Also, other things influence someone’s behavior, and these include the race, ethnicity, gender, and religion they see around them among others. Therefore, the kind of person one becomes is significantly related to the specific society they are raised in and the social groups they surround themselves with from their time they are born and during their early childhood (Röder, Rösler, & Trommsdorff, 2014). People learn their beliefs from the interactions they have with others.  

Agents of socialization (the school)

There are various socialization agents, and the school is considered to be among the most significant of them. The reason is that, apart from home, school is the place that a lot of socialization takes place. The school institution is created with the aim of socialization and cultural transmission (Chapin & Barlow, 2016). Research shows that over the past years, the school has assumed some of the roles originally performed by the family and the community. The school is the first big organization that a child gets into and it serves as a reflection of what happens in the more prominent society (Chapin & Barlow, 2016). Besides, children spend most of their day in school for the case of day schools and all of their days for the case of boarding schools. Automatically, a student gains a lot of knowledge and skills from their interaction with their teachers and fellow students. The school has both the formal part of socialization (for example classroom teaching, caning, and suspensions) and the informal part of socialization (for example, peer group pressure) (Chapin & Barlow, 2016). There are different ways in which the school acts agents of socialization. 

The school carries out socialization through the curriculum (Thornton, 2013). It teaches a child the basic intellectual skills they require and examples include how to read, write, and communicate verbally among others (Thornton, 2013). Through the languages taught in school, a child can effectively communicate with people in different positions in society. The school goes as far as educating the children about their gender roles so they can know what society expects of them. The skills that a child acquires from school enable him to fit into the world of work (Thornton, 2013)

Schools carry out socialization through the educational systems where they mold students into useful members of the society (Thornton, 2013). The children learn to conform to the norms of the community because they know its importance and the role they are supposed to play. These students later become good citizens after they finish schooling. Through education, pupils can expand their mental horizons and learn to view the world in new ways. 

A school hosts children from various backgrounds. Therefore, the school takes up the role of changing or modifying the different aspects that these children from diverse backgrounds have into those that may be accepted in the society (Thornton, 2013). Also, the students go through informal learning when they are with their peers. 

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Socialization through the life course (childhood)

There are different stages that one goes through from infancy to death and these stages are referred to as life course (Alexander, 2017). Life course (the stages of life) are divided into four different stages which include childhood, adolescence, adulthood and old age (Alexander, 2017). Although the entire life course of a person is important, the childhood is the most significant of all concerning socialization and emotional, physiological, and cognitive development. 

The first 12 years of a person’s life are known as his childhood. This period helps children to engage in carefree play and are eager to learn. Different cultures have a different definition of a child. Socialization at this stage is essential in creating a complete human being that has human tendencies and cannot only exist with others in the society but can positively impact the community (Röder, Rösler, & Trommsdorff, 2014).  As important as the childhood stage is, there is an ugly truth attached to it. A large number of children do not do well in their childhood years with regards to health and education among other aspects. Besides, factors like race, gender, ethnicity and social class determines how well children do (Alexander, 2017)

The Federal Interagency Forum regularly publishes reports on statistics of children and the family. The forums report “America’s Children: Key National Indicators of Well-Being” annually update people on the welfare of children. This report provided some troubling facts regarding children’s well-being. According to studies, only 55% of children who are between 3 to 5 years have a family member who reads to them every day (Röder, Rösler, & Trommsdorff, 2014). Families’ income levels made this percentage go up or down over the years. Only 40% of children whose families live below the poverty line enjoy this privilege of being read to (Röder, Rösler, & Trommsdorff, 2014). On the other hand, 64% of families whose income is twice above the poverty level read to their children. By 2008, studies revealed that one-fifth of children in the United States experienced poverty (Röder, Rösler, & Trommsdorff, 2014). When it came to Latino and African American children, the number was over 30% of the population (Röder, Rösler, & Trommsdorff, 2014)

Although there are separate stages of life, they are connected to one another. The experiences one has during childhood can affect them throughout their life. If their childhood consists of traumatic experiences such as abuse, serious injuries, neglect or violence, then this increases their chances of having numerous negative outcomes. These children become more prone to being delinquents during adolescence and adulthood and have higher chances of experiencing many psychiatric problems, substance abuse issues, and various learning disorders. Children with adverse experiences during childhood have fewer chances of graduating high school, going to college, or getting married. If they do get married, they are likely to divorce. It is difficult for these people even to keep a job. 

There are activities that parents organize for their children such as playground trips and play dates to keep them busy. Studies have shown that these interactions are fundamental in helping a child to socialize (Röder, Rösler, & Trommsdorff, 2014). The interaction a child has with other children or people enables him to gain language skills and learn how to cope with this emotions. Although this concept may appear to be technical, what is apparent is that socialization is essential for the healthy development of a child. 

The level of intelligence that individuals have depends on the environment in which they are raised (Röder, Rösler, & Trommsdorff, 2014). It comes when one’s genetic predispositions interact with the environment.  This is what determines someone’s basic cognitive abilities. Positive environments encourage excellent necessary cognitive abilities while harmful environments hinder it. Therefore, children need to be given the best support needed to achieve the highest level of cognitive function they can. For example, more targeted support programmers can be established to help children having disadvantaged social backgrounds (Röder, Rösler, & Trommsdorff, 2014). Children should be presented with career choices that cater to their different cognitive functioning. This will help them make better career choices and provide the world with a variety of professionals. 

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Gender Socialization

Gender socialization refers merely to the fact that boys and girls become socialized differently. Society expects girls and boy to have different attitudes and behaviors and it instills these expectations in them from an early age (Wilson Company & Grey House Publishing, 2014). Boys are taught about male gender role and girls are raised to act according to the female gender role expectations. Gender role refers to behaviors, attitudes and personality features that are expected from a person depending on his or her sex (Wilson Company & Grey House Publishing, 2014). There are various factors that influence how people of different genders socialize. Researchers have not agreed on whether or not boys and girls socialize differently because of their biological differences. What is evident is the fact that the male and female brains are different. The male brain uses the left hemisphere as its language center while the female brain uses the right and left hemispheres of the brain. This might be why females possess stronger communication skills and place more value on interpersonal communication compared to males. How females use their brains can also explain why girls are faster than boys when it comes to speaking and reading at an early age. 

Family influence how boys and girls socialize (Wilson Company & Grey House Publishing, 2014). Every culture has its expectations of what it considers acceptable for males and females. Naturally, family members socialize babies in ways that are appropriate to their gender. They may even do this subconsciously. For example, baby girls are normally dressed in pink and baby boys in blue (Wilson Company & Grey House Publishing, 2014). Girls receive dolls to help them get used to being mothers in the future while boys are given cars or balls to bring out their aggressive nature.

Racial-Ethnic socialization

Racial socialization is the segment of socialization that tackles particular messages and practices related to an individual’s racial or ethnic status (Neblett, Rivas-Drake, & Umaña-Taylor, 2012). Racial socialization comprises of an individual and group identity, different positions found in the social hierarchy and relationships between individuals and groups. 

Racial socialization happens through direct statements about race (Stevenson, 2014). People also socialize by being exposed to environments or particular objects that remind them of their racial-ethnic group. Another way in which racial-ethnic socialization happens is through modeling behavior whereby a parent, guardian, or caregiver acts a role model to a child. The child automatically imitates what the adult does. 

Interracial families face challenges concerning racial and ethnic socialization compared to monoracial families (Slaughter-Defoe, 2012). For years, people had been marrying into their own racial or ethnic group, and interracial families go against this norm. Therefore, interracial families do not have clear guidelines to follow with regards to socialization. These families have diverse ideologies and view of race and ethnicity. Children from interracial families often feel like they do not have a community they can identify with. Their parents cannot offer them much solace if they are from monoracial families because they do not fully comprehend the situation. 

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Social psychology theory of human development

Different social psychology theories have been developed over the years to explain human development. According to Sigmund Freud (the person who came up with psychoanalysis), human personalities are a result of basic biological instincts and societal factors (Newman, & Newman, 2016). Sigmund was of the opinion that the human mind functions in three different parts and these parts should always be the same or it will lead to social problems. Sigmund clarified human development in three stages (Id, Superego, and Ego) and he was of the opinion that these stages symbolize the various levels of personality (Newman & Newman, 2016). The id is the first stage of human development, and newborn babies only have an id in their minds. The id comprises of the most primitive desires humans have (Newman, & Newman, 2016). The next stage is superego where a child acquires a conscience or superego. This process is the transition from infancy to childhood. The ego is the segment of one’s mind that is responsible for resolving any conflicts arising between the superego and the id (Newman, & Newman, 2016). When there is no balance between these two stages of human development, one faces a problem in decision making. Everyone with a healthy mind has the ego. 

A psychologist and psychoanalyst named Erik. H. Erickson used Sigmund Freud’s theory of human development to come with his theory that says that there are eight psychosocial stages of development (Newman, & Newman, 2016). According to Erik, each of the eight stages has a crisis or potential crisis connected to transitions humans made in their social relationships (Newman, & Newman, 2016). He identifies the first stage of trust versus mistrust and occurs from the time a child is born until they become one year old. At this stage, if infants are nurtured and taken care of well by their parents, they develop trust. Autonomy versus shame and doubt stage occurs in children between 1 and three years (Newman, & Newman, 2016). When children get to explore their environment, they become autonomous. If their parents discourage them, they lose confidence in their abilities. Initiative versus guilt stage affects 3 to 5-year-olds (Newman, & Newman, 2016). If children receive initiative, they develop initiative, but if they are considered a nuisance, they feel guilty. Industry versus inferiority is the fourth stage and affects children aged 6 to 11 (Newman, & Newman, 2016). If children are praised for their efforts, they develop a feeling of industry, but if their efforts are undermined, they feel inferior. Identity versus role confusion affects adolescents between 12 to 18 years (Newman, & Newman, 2016). Teenagers often feel confused as they proceed to adulthood and this is the time they try to create a sense of identity. Those who are encouraged by the society and their loved ones develop a strong sense of self. They also become independent. The ones who do not get the same encouragement can become insecure and unsure of themselves. Intimacy versus isolation occurs at ages 18 to 35 (Newman, & Newman, 2016). A person with successful relationships develop intimacy but those who don’t feel isolated. Individuals between 35 and 55 years go through generativity versus self-absorption stage (Newman, & Newman, 2016). Self-absorbed people only think of their well-being and often face stagnation and interpersonal impoverishment. The people who think beyond themselves start thinking of what the next generation needs and what the future appears. The last stage is integrity versus despair, and this is experienced at maturity or old age. People who have dealt with their psychosocial crises feel a sense of integrity when they look back at how they have spent their lives. Those with unresolved crises have a sense of despair because they believe that they have lived a life of disappointments and failures. 

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A sociological theory of human development

Self-concept is a sociological theory of human development. Human beings usually experience a change in their sense of self as they interact with other people. Sociologists argue that there is a sociological perspective on the way humans become aware of themselves and the culture they live (Newman, & Newman, 2016). People are not born with a sense of self. They develop it during their social experience. Self-concept comprises of four concepts: the physical (for example, you can say, I am short). The active self (I am good at music), social self (for example, I treat others with respect) and psychological self (I believe in unity) (Newman, & Newman, 2016). Self-identity is merely the kind of person one perceives themselves (Newman, & Newman, 2016). Language, symbols and the way people interact help them to gain a sense of self. 


This paper has established the importance of socialization in the world. Although there are various stages one goes through in life, childhood is the most important one. Therefore, children should be raised in environments that are emotionally stable and encourage the development of their cognitive abilities. This move will help to bring up individuals who dominate in language, are aware of their culture and know what the society expects from them. The type of childhood one has influences who they become as adults. This is why it is essential to establish a proper foundation. Since the school is one prominent place where socialization takes place, the institution should put more effort into promoting socialization through formal training and extra-curricular activities. 

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