One of the many things I teach is something I call, Social System Homeostasis, and it is composed of:

  • Stable Social Systems (SSS) = when an individual’s mental constructs are in harmony with other’s perceived views of the individual.  A person is in a social system that is homeostatic when all his roles and beliefs about his roles are in fact reinforced within the social system.
  • Instable Social Systems (ISS) = a social system where an individual’s mental constructs are in a state of confusion with other’s perceived views of the individual.  A person is in an instable social system when his roles and belief’s about his roles are denied within the social system. This type of social system is filled with mixed messages concerning an individual’s identity or sense of self (SOS).

An individual can belong to many social systems but will identify most strongly with the ones that are stable and from those that are stable will identify most with the SSS that offers the highest amount of emotional reward or security from the greatest emotional fear.  Furthermore an individual will seek a SSS that provides the highest level of sense of self, whether positive or negative.

An educational environment should seek to effect positive cognitive change where there are gaps within social mental constructs.  For example, joe, a driver, learns that red means, “go.” He knows this and drives on a city street.  A light changes to red, but joe thinks it’s time to go. So he does.   But then, he gets in an accident and learns that red actually means, “stop.”  For joe, there was a gap in his social mental construct.  His perceived fact was that red was a signal for going and his belief hailed him.  If joe could have taken a class that taught about the traffic signal colors and their meanings, he might have accounted for that gap and then corrected the perceived fact so that joe could have understood that red means “stop.”

The thing is that if a child derives from a stable social system where education is a value within the system; ie, in a family like the Huxtables where the father is a doctor and the mother is a lawyer and both are in love with the other, then education will be a means to a greater end.  For this student, generally, school is a positive extension of his family’s value system. This SSS provides many hooks into the educational system.

However, in a SSS like the Antonio’s family in Bless Me Ultima, the educational system was in direct conflict with his family’s value system.  For Antonio, there needed to be a process through which Antonio could see a benefit to school.   An ISS from which a child just needs to survive, probably won’t have much use for a school setting.

Therefore, an educational system must be created in which there is a triangular relationship that accounts for the above different social systems.  This need is illustrated in the following, “”In the epistemic triangle, there is recognition of both the object in the environment and the communicative and social nature of the human interaction.  The development of social understanding takes place alongside the child’s construction of the physical world” (Garton, 13).  This means that a bilingual child must develop in an environment where all factors of their world view is accounted for and allowed to flourish because without the proper communication and social attributes, a child will not develop.