School & Community

From GOETE Glossary
Jump to: navigation, search

The theorising and conceptualising of the relationship between schools and (local, regional or wider) communities in broad brushes can be divided into three different strands.

One strand of discussion is the link between education as an emancipation process of the individual from his or her family’s community (e.g. Rousseau’s Emile). In this line of thought, up to our days, communities are regarded as bonding social capital which schools have to deal with. One example for this is the ‘busing’ policies which are debated and experimented with in some European countries and which are meant to provide pupils and students from disadvantaged communities with better opportunities by increasing the social mix at school.

The second strand is around the idea that schools can be a means to influence or better the social conditions of communities. In this line of thought, recent developments in several countries like the UK can be regarded as using schools as a central actor in the organisation of support for communities and neighbourhoods (e.g. Every Child Matters agenda).

The third axis of debate is around the resources that communities provide and how to make best use of them in schools. One root of this debate is the criticism of the 1960ies/70ies (e.g. Illich) that schools are too far away from their pupils’ life worlds. Modern variants of this debate centre around the question how schools and other services for children, youth and their families can best work together.


Illich, Ivan (1976) De-schooling society. New York: Pelican books.

Maroy, Christian (2004): Regulation and Inequalities in European Education Systems. Research report. Download: [4.12.2008].

Percy-Smith, Barry (2006): From Consultation to Social Learning in Community. Participation with Young People, in: Children, Youth and Environments, 16(2), pp.154-178.

(Axel Pohl)