What Makes Up a School?


School is the place where students learn, but it’s also a place of socialization. It’s where they meet other people and build a community.

Schools can be a safe and nurturing environment when teachers have the knowledge, skills, and empathy to foster positive student relationships. Many schools support students experiencing adversity through counseling, health, and social services.


As societies grew and communities developed, the need to pass along skills and values from one generation to another prompted people to develop education. Early schools were nothing like the classrooms of today, but they aimed to teach children the basics so they could grow up and contribute to society as adults.

The Romans developed a school system that organized schools into tiers, not unlike the way students progress through today’s schooling. They also figured out that young kids have the ability to learn quickly, and their memory is particularly retentive.

By the 19th century, most countries had established formal school systems, and many made school attendance mandatory. Many of these schools were still one-room schools, where a single teacher taught multiple grades of boys and girls at the same time. Other types of schools include kindergarten and pre-school, vocational or trade schools, secondary school, college, university and seminary. Most of these have specialized programs and courses to meet the needs of the local community.


Schools provide a place for children to meet and spend time with peers. This helps them to develop social skills that they can use at work or in other places where they regularly meet people. Schools can also encourage students to become more aware of how much they understand and where their gaps in knowledge lie.

Schools are also used to help students gain specialized knowledge that will improve their chances of employment and social status. This specialized knowledge can be gained through the study of various subjects, such as maths and history. Students who excel at these subjects will be able to take up jobs in the field of education.

However, there are two competing goals for schooling – producing workers and creating citizens. These goals require different strategies to achieve them. One goal requires schools to focus on rote memorization and standardized tests, while the other involves fostering a national identity and values.


The structures that make up schools may be simple or complicated. Some schools may use a single classroom structure (with one teacher teaching all academic subjects to the students assigned to that class). Others have two teachers and a departmentalized classroom structure. The research conducted by the author of this study found that both of these classroom structures coexisted within the same school district and in different schools. Proponents of each classroom structure claim that their approach leads to superior student achievement. However, a review of the literature revealed that few studies have been conducted that reexamine these classroom structures and student achievement.

Many schools also have an administrative structure that includes administrators and other staff members who work at the school-level. Some school districts have superintendents and other administrators who oversee the entire system of schools. Some school districts are considered Machine Bureaucracies, with centralized power and control in the hands of the superintendent and assistant superintendents.


When it comes to school choices, parents face a daunting amount of options. Getting a handle on what types of schools are available can be like trying to sort threads in a jumbled tapestry. Terms like Montessori, magnet and parochial can send you on a search-tangent just to get some definitions.

Traditional public schools are the first choice of many parents. These are funded by local, state and federal government funds. They must admit all students living within their boundaries, adhere to basic curricular requirements and conform to state-mandated rules regarding governance.

Charter and magnet schools are two relatively new types of publicly-funded institutions. These are started by teachers, parents or community organizations and may be operated as for-profit businesses. They generally focus on a mission that sets them apart from the standard local, traditional public school and have greater flexibility with their curriculum. Some are focused on STEM, the arts or college preparation. Others are boarding schools that require students to live on campus throughout the school year.

What Makes Up a School?
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