Ашкинази Леонид Александрович
Teaching sociology in school, studies of lessons conducted by schoolchildren and schoolchildren"s reading

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  • © Copyright Ашкинази Леонид Александрович (leonid2047@gmail.com)
  • Обновлено: 12/12/2017. 24k. Статистика.
  • Статья: Естеств.науки
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    Leonid Aleksandrovich Ashkinazi, Alla Vladimirovna Kuznetsova

    Physics and Mathematics School,

    Moscow Institute of Electronics and Mathematics, Moscow




       The aim of the work is to develop a methodology for teaching sociology on facultative subjects in high school. It turned out that in this case, sufficient interest of the audience arises only when a considerable amount of analysis of schoolchildren's earlier studies conducted by different authors was introduced into the course. Another possible way to maintain the interest of the audience is to conduct applied researches. As such, a student group surveyed students' attitudes toward conducting separate lessons by the students themselves (351 respondents) and a survey of schoolchildren's reading (508 respondents).
       Ключевые слова: преподавание социологии; средняя школа; проведение уроков школьниками; чтение школьников.
       Keywords: teaching sociology; high school; conducting lessons by schoolchildren; schoolchildren's reading.
       Statement of the problem and organization of teaching
       In the standard Russian school curriculum there is a subject "Social Studies". It consists of materials that can be attributed to economics, political science, law and sociology, and the official program and textbook are to an appreciable degree of educational character. In 2015-2017 in Moscow Lyceum No. 1525 an attempt was made to supplement this subject with electives, that is, courses of choice. Apparently, there were tworeasons for this decision. First, in the lyceum there is, among others, a socioeconomic direction and the availability of such electives looks logical, and secondly, about 60% of schoolchildren pass a Unified State Exam in Social Studies (the most massively passed subject after compulsory ones: Mathematics and the Russian language). Such lessons can improve the overall results of the school.
       To teach one of these courses, sociology, a special program was compiled covering the main issues usually included in textbooks for higher education, but penetrating them into a smaller (so to say, "school") depth. The program had some slant towards the methodology of research (questionnaires, sampling, etc.) - it was supposed that this would make the teaching more interesting.
       It was important for the future that the school used some organizational "ambivalence" - the students were told that attendance was mandatory, but there was no subject in school registers (ordinary and electronic ones). The students knew this and interpreted the situation in their own way. Classes began in two groups (9 and 10 forms) at the first and second lessons on Saturday. Biologists have such a euphemism for it - "acute experience"; listeners began to disperse, and the tenth form, naturally, reacted more quickly. By the third session, it became clear that the project was failing, and the program was radically changed. Namely, we moved to the analysis of specific sociological studies carried out by different authors.
       Critical analysis of a series of specific questionnaires allows, with proper approach, to tell listeners about all methodological tricks, subtleties and features, and to touch upon theoretical questions. The presentation turns out to be less logically consistent than usual, but as it turned out, the pluses outweighed the minuses, and the attendance was stabilized. And for critical analysis, studies were selected that were done on schoolchildren. This allowed the participants of the lesson to try the questions on themselves and to discuss such topics freely as "if the question is formulated too difficult to be understood ", "how can one ask this otherwise", "we would understand it better if..." and so on.
       After a while, the listeners matured to the sociological survey in their school. The first to express this idea were schoolchildren themselves, and almost simultaneously and independently of them, the school administration started talking about the possibility of attracting listeners "to something practical". As the topic of the first study, which was of interest to both researchers and the "customer", i.e. for the administration, was chosen the attitude of schoolchildren to conducting the school-based lessons on their own. This school has such practice: on a certain day, some lessons are conducted by schoolchildren - in their own or in the junior form. Preparation is conducted in contact with the teacher, and there is a multistage procedure for determining the teacher-lesson-student combination, taking into account the teacher's desire and the student's desire to participate in the event, the lesson they prefer, and the agreement to work with each other.
       Our task was to study the very conduct of school lessons by students and their perception of this event. Specifically, the task was to determine:
       - What percentage of students took part in lessons conducted by their relative peers (as listeners and as "teachers") and how these lessons impressed the listeners;
       - If students want such lessons to be conducted in the future and in which subjects;
       - If students want to conduct such lessons themselves, in which subjects, in which forms and in what directions;
       - If possible, to identify differences on all these points for different forms and different areas of study.
       The students proposed all the questions of the questionnaire; drawing up a questionnaire from only seven questions took place in discussions during three lessons. The questionnaire was designed to be filled in during a small part of the lesson, as we assumed that taking time off from lessons would not cause enthusiasm among the teachers. Initially, it was assumed that the questionnaire would be carried out only in some forms, but the schoolchildren wanted to cover the entire school, from the fifth to the tenth form, and they almost succeeded - they collected 351 questionnaires. The processing of the data was carried out by students, and the task was to obtain data for different year groups (all 5-th forms, all 6-th forms, etc.) and different directions (general education, physics and mathematics, socioeconomic, humanitarian, biochemical). Upon completion of the data processing, a report was compiled, and a presentation of the work was made to the school administration, where various participants of the research reported different parts of the work (methodology and individual items of the report). The administration estimated the received data as very useful.
       In the course of the work, the class was stratified according to the degree of enthusiasm and seriousness: all participated in the survey (distribution and collection of questionnaires), part of the class (Blaginina O.A., Deryabin P.A., Zvyrlifus D.O., Kaminka G.K., Lunina A.L., Mkhitaryan M.G.) developed the questionnaire, processed data and made a report; two students of this group stood out - the "organizer" and the "analyst". The first one took over the distribution of the work among the classmates, and without any objection they accepted this role (perhaps traditional), while the second one most clearly formulated the questions and proposals.
       The second study carried out by the same group concerned the schoolchildren's reading. The results obtained in the first and second study and the general conclusions concerning the teaching of sociology in the school are summarized below.
       Research of conducting lessons by schoolchildren
       The research of conducting lessons by the students showed that the lessons that pupils conduct have taken place in all forms, i.e. it is a constant practice for this school. Basically, these are lessons (in descending order of frequency) of the Russian Language, Mathematics (including Algebra and Geometry), Physical Education, Physics, Social Science, Biology, History. Therefore, this practice extends to basic subjects of all directions and, albeit to varying degrees, to profile subjects of different directions. In most forms, the situation is as follows: more than half of the respondents remember exactly what subjects they had similar lessons, only 5% of respondents do not remember if there were such lessons, and 10% do not remember on which subjects they had such lessons. It means that the presence at such a lesson is a memorable event.
       Such lessons were conducted on average by 22% of respondents, but the distribution of those who conducted lessons was uneven: conducting lessons started from 7-8 forms, 18% students of which conducted them, in the 9th form 41% of students conducted the lessons and in the 10th form 56% of students did so. The distribution along the directions looks like this: the majority of respondents who conducted such lessons are at the socioeconomic direction (there are 70% of them), and there are from 22% to 28% at other directions. As for the perception of such lessons by the participants, 85% of the students liked them, 4% did not like them and 11% found it difficult to answer. Positive ratings fall with increasing seniority of the form from 97% for form 5 to 70% for form 8-10. The reasons, most likely, are an increase of critical perception and a decrease in the effect of novelty. There is no noticeable difference between the directions.
       As positive factors, students marked the studying atmosphere (unusualness, cheerful mood, unconventionality, novelty of the event) - that gives 60% of answers, content of lessons (perspicuity, interest) - 50% of answers, low study load (few assignments, the teacher did not ask the lesson, put good marks) - 10% of answers. That is, the atmosphere and content of studies are perceived as factors that are comparable in importance. And the ratio of the importance of the atmosphere to the importance of meaningfulness essentially depends on the form: for the 5th-7th forms this ratio on the average is 1.2, for 9th-10th ones it is 0.9, that is, for the younger students the atmosphere is somewhat more important than the content, and for the older ones the content is more important. The difference between the younger and the older students is 30%, which is significant.
       The level of complexity of the classes was chosen correctly: only 10% of schoolchildren perceived them as easier ones (according to a combination of tasks and assessments). On average, 80% of the respondents want such lessons to be conducted in all specialized directions, 40% of them want such lessons to be conducted in general education. Some respondents orally expressed support for more frequent conducting of such lessons. Those who do not want such lessons to be carried out and who find it difficult to answer are approximately of equal quantity. Among those who liked these lessons, the proportion of those wishing such lessons to be conducted was naturally higher. However, 5% of respondents liked them, but they do not know if it is worth doing such lessons, and 2% liked such lessons, but they do not want such lessons to be conducted; this may be a manifestation of conservatism.
       23% of respondents want such lessons to be conducted in any subjects or did not indicate which subjects they want to be conducted by schoolchildren (apparently, they are respondents who liked the atmosphere). At the same time, the share of such respondents decreases with age - from about 40% for 5th forms to 20% for 10th forms, i.e. the atmosphere, as it was already indicated, is more important for the younger ones. The rest preferred such lessons to be conducted in specific subjects, namely: Mathematics - 14%, Russian language - 12%, English Language and Physical Education - 5% each. Respondents basically choose a familiar one, because they already liked it.
       60% of respondents want to conduct lessons, 20% each do not want or find it difficult to answer. That is, those wishing to conduct such lessons are more than those who have already done this: there is a reserve of those who wish. The desire to conduct such lessons is somewhat different for different directions and forms (it is weaker in the general education direction.) The absolute majority of those who answered that they would like to conduct such lessons indicated a specific subject. Mathematics and the Russian language were mostly named; less common was a profiling subject of a direction, i.e. Physics in physics and mathematics direction, Geography in the socioeconomic direction, History in the humanities and general education.
       Naturally, a year or two younger forms are usually named, in the second place is their own class, in the third one is a significantly younger form, i.e. in forms 5-7 - forms 1-3, in forms 8-9 the interest extends only to form 5 inclusively. It is possible that somewhere on the border of forms 7 and 8, self-confidence increases and / or interest in the youngest ones decreases.
       As for the choice of directions, their own direction is most often indicated, and in the second place is usually the one where the respondents have friends, i.e., there is at least a partially familiar audience for the lesson. In part, this seems to be connected with the formation of directions, that is, with subject proximity. As a result, the situation is as follows. In the socioeconomic direction, the respondents name their own direction and then the physics and mathematics one, in the general education direction the respondents name the socioeconomic and then (with a large margin) biochemical and humanitarian, in the humanitarian direction they name their own, then socioeconomic and physics and mathematics, in physics and mathematics direction they name their own and biochemical one.
       Study of schoolchildren's reading
       In the second study, the coverage increased: all students from forms 5 to 11 were interviewed, and 508 were present at the class. The questionnaire was to find out the general students` attitude to reading (the main alternatives of the answers are given below) and specifity - what they read during the year, the amount of time used for reading, the frequency of the use of "short summaries" or audiobooks, and also reading "from the screen."
       The attitude toward reading fluctuates between "I like to read, I do it at every opportunity" (depending on the form - 17%-35%) and "I like reading, in general, but moderately" (13%-36%), and in the 5th, 6th and 8th forms the answers are shifted to the first variant, and in the 7th, 9th, 10th and 11th forms, naturally, to the second. If you divide the array not by forms but by directions, then all directions fluctuate between the second answer (13%-56%) and "if there is time from other duties, then I read" (5%-56%), and the humanitarian direction is shifted to the first answer (77%). The average time spent on reading is 6-8 hours a week in junior forms and 8-11 in senior ones, the dependence on the direction is weak - 8-10 hours. That is, attitude is attitude, but the rest of life limits the free time.
       As for replacing the full reading of works with short summaries, in the junior forms the most frequent answer is "I never or almost never do it" (25%-39%), but starting from the 9th form "it happens, but not too often" (29 %-55%), that is, life forces. If we look at the directions, the answer is "it happens, but not too often" (22%-82%) dominates in all directions, except for the humanitarian one, which is dominated by "I never or almost never do it" (68%). The motives in all cases are approximately equal "to understand whether it is worth reading the whole book" (depending on the form and direction - 10%-48%) and "I read a short summary to prepare for the lessons" (12%-66%).
       The ratio of reading from the screen and paper is as follows: form 5 reads almost always from paper, the rest "approximately equally" (depending on form and direction 10%-42%), "mostly from paper" (10%-43%) and "almost always from paper" (16%-43%). The use of audiobooks depends little on the direction, but noticeably decreases with age, 18% in form 5 and 7% in 11th one select answers "approximately equally" and "I listen more often than I read, and 6%-28% in directions
       The questionnaire had an open question - respondents were asked to list (in free form) the books they had read in a year. Since read information is usually remembered better if it impressed the reader, then the reading revealed by such a question, and with a limited response time, can be called "actual reading", and it should not be taken as a complete account of what has been read. However, even with this approach, it is possible to analyze the distribution function of respondents by the number of named books and the distribution of named books by epoch and genre, and for different classes and directions. Of course, at the same time the age trend of the ability to remember and the desire to name will be superimposed on real trends, so that these data should be perceived rather as qualitative.
       It turned out that the most often named number of books for forms 5-7 is 3-5 books, for forms 8-11 - 5-7 books, but in the humanitarian direction and in forms 10-11 a group of "avid readers" appears (about 25%) who name 13-16 books, with some respondents naming 20-30 books. The humanitarian direction is 29% of respondents; 52% of those who have named 15 or more books are concentrated in this direction. Naturally, the intersection of features strengthens the effect - 10th and 11th forms of humanitarian direction are 6% of respondents, and of those who have named 15 or more books 29% are concentrated in this direction. The effect is an obvious consequence of the presence of additional courses in this direction (poetics, foreign literature, mythology) in addition to the basic course of literature.
       The average number of named books is more because of the asymmetry of the distribution function; it is about 6 and 8 books, respectively; in fact, the number of read books will be more for the above reason.
       In analyzing the directions, the picture is as follows. For the physics and mathematics and socioeconomic directions, 4-6 books is the most frequently named number of books, for humanitarian and biochemical this number is 7-9 books, for general education - 0-4 (that is, a relatively large proportion of those who do not read at all or give it minimal attention). On the socioeconomic and humanitarian directions, there is a noticeable group of "avid readers" who, as mentioned above, name 13-16 books (individual respondents name up to 20-30 books).
       Analysis of the lists of specific named works and authors was made by splitting into groups according to time when the work became available to the mass reader or according to the genre; the list was made similarly to the one we used earlier for monitoring the reading of entrants of a technical institute for comparison of results.
       If we single out the first ranks by the frequency of the mention, then the picture will be as follows. The first two places in all year groups and directions are divided by the Russian classics (i.e. the program) and foreign fiction (i.e. free reading). At the same time, the classic wins in forms 9-11 (anticipation of the Unified State Examination), and in the general education, biochemical and socioeconomic directions. In the 5-8 forms, foreign fiction wins in the physics and mathematics and humanitarian directions. The third place in the majority of cases goes to Russian science fiction, but not always: in the 5th form and in the humanities students prefer reading modern foreign literature, in the 10th form - foreign classics, in the 11th form they prefer foreign literature of the second half of the XX century, in the biochemical direction students prefer Russian Non-fiction literature. The fourth place goes in most cases to foreign classics (forms 6-9 and 11 in general education and socioeconomic directions). The first three places are, on average, 30%, 20% and 10% respectively. Further distribution looks chaotic, and the convergence of reading within one form is noticeable (the influence of the teacher and classmates, the appearance of screen versions and computer games), which, when analyzing the whole array, looks like random fluctuations. As noted in the literature, even formally, the same forms are different - they have a group identity.
       In our case, the error arises, apart from the usual reasons, because of the "mosaic" of the aggregate, that is, because each form refers not only to the year group, but also to the direction. Moreover, the same year groups in the school are made up of directions in slightly different ways, and different directions are made up of forms belonging to different year groups. In this case, the error can only be judged indirectly, for example, by "noise", by chaotic changes in the results when moving from one year group to another - in the absence of these effects, the data would have to change (in most cases) monotonically.
       As for individual authors and works, analysis of this data is complicated by the small amount of the array, but it is possible, for example, to note a sharp weakening of interest in "Harry Potter" after the 8th form. Perhaps this is because it is more interesting for children and adolescents to read about peers.
       The comparison with the data of our monitoring of the 80's and 90's shows that at this level of analysis the changes that have taken place are not great. The entrants of the 90`s also had Russian classics on the 1st place, foreign fiction on the 2nd and Russian non-fiction literature on the 3rd, which now has the 4th place in the physics and mathematics direction. Fiction and non-fiction content, of course, has changed.
       The questionnaire had a request to the respondents - in the list of literature they made, they noted what they liked most and what they read and later regretted that they spent time on it. It turned out that in general, with the increase of the year group, the share of positive estimates decreases by a quarter, which indicates an increase in criticality. If we single out the estimates of the first two ratings, then it turns out that foreign science fiction is assessed positively in 20%-60% of cases, negatively in 1%-7% of cases, Russian classics is assessed positively in 6%-20% of cases, negatively - in 2%-11% of cases. Among the directions, humanitarian direction appraises foreign fiction most (positively - 50%, negatively - 1%), the rest directions: positively - 23%-35%, negatively 1%-8%. The biochemical direction likes Russian classics more than other directions, (positively - 25%, negatively - 4%), while the rest directions estimate it as follows: positively 10%-12%, negatively 4%-7%.
       Conclusions on the teaching of sociology in a school
       If the subject is not mandatory, the sufficient level of interest for successful studies can be provided in two ways. This is a substantial content in the course of analyzing previous studies and conducting an independent study, primarily in their school. These two methods can be used together in one annual course (with a course rate of about 30 academic hours).
       The authors are grateful for useful advice to D.L. Konstantinovsky, the head of the Sociology of Education Department of the Institute of Sociology of the Russian Academy of Sciences.

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  • © Copyright Ашкинази Леонид Александрович (leonid2047@gmail.com)
  • Обновлено: 12/12/2017. 24k. Статистика.
  • Статья: Естеств.науки
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