Some Lessons From Other Countries

Ernest A. Vargas


Groups resolve their political differences either through controlling each other aversively, socializing shared values, or institutionalizing countercontrols. All three types of controls operate in American society. Its political system by and large reflects the latter solution. Such a solution promotes struggle between groups but also promotes the necessity for cooperation among them. Groups seek means by which they share reinforcers , or define rules by which they tolerate the reinforcers of others.

Over the long run, the educational system occupies the center of the struggle between groups operating under different contingencies and competing for similar resources. By shaping the student, groups attempt to shape the future of their society. The characteristics of the American public school system reflects the outcomes of contentions and agreements among special-interest groups. One important outcome is educating how to adjust to the oscillating controls between groups. The compromises necessary in a society with formal and informal countercontrols presses the public school to teach the repertoires with which groups may accommodate each other and the values that make accommodation a good action to take. But current struggles over what is to be taught, and how, and to whom, imply a shift to centralization of control, factionalization of communities, and ecclesiastization of curriculum; in short, a displacement in the balance of controls over the school system, a displacement that will change the pluralistic nature of American society. Similar tendencies in the controls over the educational systems of other countries illustrate what this shift implies.

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