Introduction to Sociology

Induction Week

Some schools and colleges have a set period of time at the start of the academic year where they encourage students to have a taster of the different subjects on offer at the centre with a view to ‘firming up’ their curriculum choices. Even if your centre does not have such a system in place, it is worthwhile considering having your own induction period. Here you can spend a short amount of time exploring some key concepts and ideas which underpin the study of Sociology and possibly set an assignment on this to help you ascertain students’ levels of literacy and research skills.

  1. The first activity suggested here is called ‘Everything’s Amazing and Nobody’s Happy’ – it’s a good starting point for an induction session because as well as getting everyone talking, it gets them to think about the important idea in Sociology of social change. You begin by asking the students. “How would a child born today experience the world differently than you have?” Working in pairs and then feeding back to the whole class, you’ll probably find that there are lots of comments about technology (and you might even want to tell them about your own pre-internet A-level days!). To dig a little deeper, as them to consider non-technological aspects too, e.g. family life, climate change, the economy and jobs.

    There is a helpful template students can complete here:

    Discover More Social Change Handout.pdf

    or you could use this template as a starting point to create your own, possibly adding some changes in experience between your childhood and the students in your class. The aim of this activity is for students to appreciate that, as Sociology is looking at the study of society, society itself is ever-changing and so in terms of an academic discipline it’s pretty dynamic!

  2. To look at little more deeply into what students will be learning about in Sociology, take a look at this 5 minute video:

    As well as digging deeper into what Sociology is, it also references key thinkers including Auguste Comte and Emile Durkheim. It’s a good idea to pause the video every minute or so to try and draw out one or two key points from that section of the video as it’s surprisingly detailed for such a short clip. You could ask learners to bullet point one, two or three ‘learning points’ from what they have just seen – at the end using these learning points to write a short report on ‘What is Sociology?’.

  3. In a further session, students could be shown Sam Richards’ ‘The wisdom of Sociology’ TedxLacador talk. In this talk, Richards talks about how the study of Sociology can be a life-changing experience as it teaches us to rethink our own problems as well as ourselves. We eventually come to realise that even in our loneliest moments, we are more connected that we realise:

  4. Watching this talk could produce a useful springboard for the rest of the year as students and fellow teaching colleagues can be invited to give a Tedx talk of their own.

  • At this point in the course it’s also useful to direct students to their professional association for Sociology – the British Sociological Association. Their ‘What is Sociology’ section of the website contains some great information on what sociologists do, different career path options, how sociologists use research amongst lots of other things.

    Discover More What is Sociology?

    And in preparation for the inevitable discussions at school, college and home that will stem from what they are learning about in Sociology, the ‘Speak up for Sociology’ campaign from the BSA really does help to articulate why Sociology really does matter.

    Discover More Speak up for Sociology

    (The quotes in the downloadable leaflet contribute to great classroom displays!)

  • A resource that draws on lots of key concepts and work in Sociology can be found here:

    Discover More Sociology Summer Project.pdf

    Pages 3 and 4 are useful to draw on for a class exercise. Here students are presented with a series of photographs and asked to interpret what is happening in the picture. By thinking about different possible scenarios for the images, you can really draw out the ideas of ‘social context’ and ‘interpretation’.

  • During the period of induction, whether it is a formal two-week process in your centre or something a little more organic, there will often be discussions around student dress codes and expectations. This could be used an opportunity to think about social norms and how they relate to what we wear and when. Start by asking students to describe ‘suitable’ attire for an office job interview, a day at college, a night at home (or your own or with friends – see if there’s a difference!) or a day at the football. Draw out from discussions (you could get them to sketch their ideas in groups) the informal rules we have about dress. Then share this BBC article

    Discover More Dress code

    which looks at dress codes for parents. Here, a school in Texas has created a parental dress code that rejects pyjamas, headscarves, leggings and other items. To add to the discussions, if needed, you could ask them to think about pyjamas as ‘outdoor wear’ by referring to this school in Darlington

    Discover More Wash and get dressed

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