A psychosocial approach

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A psychosocial approach in education

author: Lic Yuri Rodriguez


The psychologist can reduce the field of his work, devoting himself to assessing children or adolescents, with problems or depositing the problem in the parents, who are summoned by the educational organization, which they usually do not attend, nor do they follow the indications or guidelines because they do not feel the need and the absence of demand produces misunderstanding of what appears as systematic, generating a circle of inactivity where one of the sectors involved does not respond. This individualistic approach is unaware that the framework of the psychologist’s work is institutional and group, that is, his gaze must be on both the group of children and their interaction with the teaching staff and in each subject.


A difficulty with which the psychologist stumbles is that the requesting help party generally experiences that the problem is not in them but in the others, placing in the students identified as the problematic the responsibility that they do not learn or that they have conduct disorder. The pedagogical collective is not aware of its involvement in the problem, for which the institution calls the psychologist as the one who can “magically” know and give solutions being placed in the place of knowledge and reduced to impotence because it starts from the false budget that the psychologist “will be able to where he could not.”

If the psychologist does not interpret these data and is unable to assume his share of responsibility in this situation, he immobilizes all those involved in the process and gets caught in these networks believing that from outside it can cause changes or introduce modifications, a frustrated psychologist is generated before the failures, assessing the situation as it is necessary to segregate the child because neither the psychologist “could”, separating him in the classroom or going to a special school.

Although there is another alternative and is that the psychologist is limited to giving methodological recipes indicating how to act in each situation of discipline, learning, preventing the personal growth of the teacher working more immobility in teachers that slows their creativity and initiative, manifesting insecurity to face these problems. Any alternative solution that primarily includes teachers creates a fissure between the proposed intervention program and its execution by teachers.


Consequently, the approach of the school institution requires not only the “tools” offered by the educational sciences but also a psychosocial approach to what happens in it.


Considering the classroom as a psychological reality allows us a different approach to the tendencies that are deposited in pedagogical reforms or in the recipes of “what is owed and not done” in the solution to the problems of the educational system.


The absence of a psychological understanding of the classroom, leads to the blame of the teacher to limit the understanding of this problem to relationships between perpetrators, who move between students, management, parents.


Accepting the classroom as a unit of analysis redefines the field of applicability of psychology and the strategy of operations since it implies consideration of the context in which the classroom is immersed.

This means that the psychologist or related specialist who assumes the interventive work in the school environment, must know among other matters the objective of the institution, the geographical location and the relations that it maintains with the community, as well as the links with other institutions, the origin and history of it, the characteristics of the people who work in it, and the types of tasks and norms that exist between them.

In the role of counselor, advisor, consultant, the psychologist must establish the appropriate distance with the institutional problem that allows greater objectivity in diagnosis and intervention while taking care of the risk of exclusion and the negative consequences that would entail.

It is not uncommon for the psychologist to assume the place of knowledge, of the subject aware of the problems, depositing in the institution ignorance and ignorance or resorting to isolation behaviors in his “other”, feeling misunderstood, alone, letting himself be hooked by resistance that conscious or not those who refuse to change, preventing it from interpreting the events that occur in the school environment.

The complexity and work difficulties of the school psychologist who generally operates alone, can cancel out his possibilities of intervention, frequently engaging in a stereotyped activity, through which the institution calms down “because there is a psychologist” where the professional feels committed affectively they are the groups that conform it.


The interest in the social factors of the education process is explained by the growing conviction that in order to understand school reality, the limits of learning and introduction theories must be exceeded and the teaching and learning processes must be conceived in the social context in which they develop .

The experiences of teachers in their daily work and the results of research of specialists in the teaching life show that topics such as knowledge of the dynamics of the school group; the influence of teachers’ expectations on student behavior; values ​​and their impact on the educational process; School conflicts and so many problems require a psychosocial vision of education.


This is a young discipline, its beginnings are very close. It represents a border scientific discipline between social psychology and education. Some tend to believe that it is the application of social psychology to the problems of education. We believe it is something else. What would be the reasons that explain this reasoning?



It means a different perspective, a new way of observing that is aimed at looking at the processes of interpersonal interaction. This does not mean that they are the only perspective to observe a problem, but that it is a particular way of doing it. For a more complete understanding of a social problem such as education, the observance of different perspectives, or a multidisciplinary approach would be a successful strategy.


As our goal is to examine the educational aspects from a psychosocial perspective, we limit ourselves to asking ourselves only a group of other questions would require a different perspective.



The adoption of a theoretical system within any perspective is part of the process of directing attention to certain types of questions and to certain types of answers.


If the theories are good and useful they will allow us to predict what will happen within the area of ​​application in which we are working and interpret what is being studied.



The application of a psycho-social perspective to education also implies developing its own appropriate methodology for classroom research.

Adopting a psycho-social approach implies knowing the social dimensions in which the phenomena we are studying in this case occur through their impact on education and its protagonists.


A social psychology of education involves all possible relationships with people and institutions that influence the education of children, adolescents and youth at the micro and macro social levels such as teachers, parents, and education authorities, administrative staff and of service of the school, journalists for their role in the mass media and numerous individuals who are agents of the formal, institutionalized and non-formal and spontaneous education process.

In the network of subsystems that involve the skein of threads that are content in education, the social psychology of education would study the subsystems composed of the relationships between teachers, between them and their leaders, between teachers and students and between their own students.

In that conception of education in its broadest sense it would be investigated, m the relations between the school and its surroundings, also investigated how the school acquires prestige. I would explain student preferences for certain issues and why members of different political parties tend to support different methods of educational organization. It would also include other socializing agents such as parents of students who establish a link with the School through their children and with teachers. Finally, it can be invented that the inventory would be much longer.


The social psychology of teaching is only a small but very important part of the social psychology of education. This difference is relative, in large part it is a matter of emphasis. The emphasis, within the social psychology of teaching will be in what happens in the school environment.


The rise of research with a psycho-social cut in the field of education has been conditioned by the takeoff that psychological science has reached and that the educators themselves have realized that in order to understand the impact of the social environments in which they operate, they need the conceptual existence of the social psychology of education. Without a dimension that allows interpreting how interpersonal relationships in the classroom affect students’ learning behavior, the teacher will stay away from capturing the reality of the teaching-learning situation.


In this psychosocial perspective, the consideration of the school and even the class as a social system (which is not closed) is highlighted by psychosocial phenomena as determinants in school learning.


We do not try to provide the teacher with a set of rules, nor assume, the doctor-patient model and after the diagnosis prescribe “prescriptions” with the medicines ¨ that cure the “evils”.


The classroom is a variable and complex environment that requires the teacher a broad view of the phenomena before him, that he faces them from different perspectives. Our interest is to provide you with the instruments so that from a psychosocial dimension you observe and interpret the alterations that occur in the classroom to achieve greater efficiency in the teaching process by making decisions that contribute to raising the quality of the process.

There is consensus among educators about the need for this approach, but we still have a long way to go to achieve it.


Several factors converge in this line of teaching quality. We highlight among them the professionalism of the teacher, which is not limited to his pedagogical training, nor is it reduced to a set of knowledge about certain disciplines for his academic specialization but also needs sufficient theoretical and empirical information that allows him to build a frame of references for the search for the appropriate strategies that allow him to apply the ideas of psychology in the educational practice and that is not only one more subject that integrated his curriculum.

Studies on teacher professionalization include different variables: professional image, autonomy, working conditions, profile, professional preparation and the context variables themselves and their interaction.

From the spectrum of problems that in school settings are susceptible to interpretation from a perspective of interpersonal relationships we will choose some of them as: teachers ‘perceptions of students, students’ perceptions of their teachers, the process of expectations and their effects on the teaching process, role issues, teacher authority, and school conflicts.


Let’s stop at school. The school as an institution.

The school, as an institution, is characterized by a structure of its own roles, norms and values. The role structure formed by students, teachers, institutional leaders, administrative and service personnel among others, involves a division of work aimed at fulfilling the mission of the school, which is to educate students. which prints a stamp distinctive to this institution and the difference of others mainly because of the mission assigned by society that can be an idealized goal that traps the teacher in a dichotomy of Omnipotence (idealistic goal) -Impotence (inability to achieve it).

This characterizes the school as an institution with ambiguous objectives that bring with it a lack of precision regarding the tasks assigned to each role and the difficulty of assessing its fulfillment.

The school is a structured system with hierarchical levels. It is governed by rules that regulate time and hinders attempts at change. Each level is controlled by a higher one. Likewise, information is requested at the lower level and from this to the upper level. The activity is registered in an “official documentation”.

In this sense, the phantom of illegality, the attention to formal compliance with the rules and the oversight result in the stated objective (the moral, aesthetic and intellectual preparation of the students) and the objective that is actually pursued enter into contradiction because the latter is reduced to achieving social recognition at the end of studies at different levels of education that is not necessarily an expression of preparation for life.




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