Teacher perception of the tension between conformity and individuality of students in a Catholic school
This study presents the perceptions of teachers in a suburban Catholic school in relation to the conformity of students to the collective culture in the school and to students' expression of their individuality. Teachers' points of view are employed to explain how the socialization process in the school can be managed effectively. In addition, the study concludes by drawing essential factors that contribute to this effectiveness. The school that was studied is a small Catholic school. Although its population includes minorities with respect to race and socioeconomic status, all students seem to be well integrated within the school's community. This research draws on an array of theoretical and research backgrounds to elucidate the social dynamics in school, which explain schools' social and educative functions and emphasize the inevitability of the socialization function in schools. It also draws attention to the effectiveness of Catholic schools in that respect. The study uses a descriptive qualitative approach that includes extensive interviewing in addition to observation and document analysis, in order to acquire a perspective on the teachers' thoughts and social patterns in the school. This research concludes that the effectiveness of the socialization process in the studied school can be attributed to two main sources. First is the maintenance of a particular culture that not only focuses on valuing academics and moral standards, but also, through the close-knit community, emanates care and individual attention that nurture the individuality of students. This is made possible because of the small size, which facilitates the building of the collective without diminishing the individual. Secondly, the school community recognizes its function as a social agent and acknowledges the students' homes as the environment for personal development. Again, by virtue of the small size of the school, the two environments are brought together through significant and obvious parental involvement in the life of the school.