Many people claim to exercise democratic values in the way they run their businesses. They may give voice to their employees and consumers by surveying how well their needs are being met and what can be done to improve their productivity and environment. Although this sounds like something a successful business may do to maintain relevancy and excellence, it may surprise you that educators don’t do this, don’t desire to do this, and don’t even claim to do it. Education is a proud dictatorship and the forerunners don’t seem to have any aspiration of becoming a democracy in which they hear from those who work for them (including teachers, teacher assistants, and teacher aides) and those they serve.
In education, teachers must follow a strict set of rules and not question them. Much like in a dictatorship. The hypocrisy of this is baffling in that students are taught to question the world for justice, rights and equality. Question our forefathers, our success, our patriotism. But the same forerunners in education demanding students to question their situations, disgrace teachers who try to do the same.
What should teachers be questioning? Here’s a few I have. Why do my students have to be in groups every day? My students have told me they prefer to be in rows facing the front because it helps them concentrate and they get distracted in groups. No, you have to be in groups because the dictator will come down and strike us all if you aren’t. (I put them in rows anyway.) Why can’t I teach the facts of history? My students are confused but the dictator wants them to interpret history and create their own facts, like the reporters on CNN. Why must I assume my students can’t do something and give them a “scaffold” to help them before they’ve even asked for it? I don’t want my students being singled out in class with a big bright pink support paper that’s only for a few because they can’t do something. I would rather help the student one-on-one or partner them with someone who can help them instead of putting them on an extra-help display. Publicizing weaknesses leads to bullying and I don’t allow that in my classroom. But in my last observation, when my “scaffolds” were missing, I was told I needed them. I responded by explaining why I disagree with the method and the response to me was well the dictator wants you to have them and the dictator needs no reason, so you need to do it.
Who is this person who has claimed absolute power over education? Maybe the hint that we need to change forms of the way we govern education is the fact that the conversation as to how it needs to be improved never ends. Possibly changing to a democratic system could be the first stepping stone in what will be millions to make education better for everyone.