039 The educational system and the environment

IV. Dynamics of the educational system and ist environment

In this section, we will attempt to integrate the ideas so far developed in a relatively isolated way, to expose the dynamics of the educational system and its relation with ist environment. These relations are illustrated in Fig. 3.

An individual becomes a student when he contacts the educational system where he will suffer a transformation. He will become part of the system and will be involved in the relations occurring among the system elements. The educational system displays a combination of its various elements to initiate the transformation process: the educators will manipulate educational contents using certain techniques for transmitting them, and complying with certain norms fixed by the political system, and incorporated into the power structure of the pedagogical units where the transformation takes place, under direct control of directors and administrators.

After complying with the norms to transit the system, the individual could complete or not a given educational level and, according to this we have distinguished between finished and unfinished products. The meaning of each type of product is different within the frame of the system environment, depending on the value (economic, social or political) attributed to the legal symbols granted by the educational system (diplomas, certificate, etc.) The pro-ducts of the educational system will be incorporated as inputs (labor force) of the economic system. The structure of the labor force has a hierarchy based on differential functions in the production process. Thus, the educational system creates a hierarchical ordering of its products by the ordering of its subsystems (educational levels and branches), contributing in this way to maintain the occupational hierarchy and a set of economic relations within society. Similarly, the educational system contributes to reproduce a set of power relations occurring within the political system, since its products have differential rights and duties, and potential quotas of power and participation in decision making.

A certain proportion of the products of the educational system returns to it, as we have indicated in previous sections, in the form of operators inputs such as teachers, directors and administrators. The system feeds itself with a part of its own Product, controlling its behavior and creating conditions for self-reproduction. At the same time, part of the products of the economic system serve as feedback input to education in the form of various types of resources. Besides serving as feedback inputs, these resources also serve as control instruments for the educational system through the political system. For example, the assignment of financial resources to education is a political decision. The quantity and type of resources to be allocated to a given level or branch of education is selected, credits are denied for certain activities and approved for others. In other words, the product of the political system (decisions), and that of the economic system serve as control element, as well as feedback element, to the educational activities.

This complex game of influences between these systems affects largely the dynamics of the educational system from its more general level to classroom activities. It also affects some or all of the structural elements of the system: inputs, products and process elements. Unfortunately, we cannot study this game in a more detailed way within the limits of this brief and introductory chapter to the subject. We have only sketched a reference frame work for a deeper study which will clarify the advantages and disadvantages of the application of systemic concepts to the analysis of educational processes.