Humane education vs the authoritarian

She: If the delicate balance between freedom and responsibility is breached by renegade students who are all tracked in one classroom and want to get around a firm teacher, simply to counter their feelings of helplessness, it takes a mature, trained Admin. to team with the teacher to teach the students the discipline that leads to freedom. The institutional structure needs to be designed for the adults to teach responsibility. Otherwise, students just play the adults to get out of responsibility. They are good at this, but the adults need to stick together to prevent the lesson from being about power plays and control. The students need to learn to do their part by being honorable and aware of but not driven by the lower emotions such as revenge. Great lesson to teach.

Me: A lot of seemingly authoritarian principles here that are predicated on the notion that the problem in classrooms is something other than the intellectual involvement of student in meaningful work for which they understand the value of doing because it produces meaningful outcomes. That “the adults need to stick together” signals an us versus them atmosphere that a lot of authoritarian educators believe is just the normal situation in schools. It is! But it is a product of authoritarianism and a sick behaviorist notion of the learner based on a sick notion of human beings and of the capacity of individuals to maintain their individuality while participating as good, contributing members of a community. Students will do their part to contribute to a community if such participation brings some kind of meaningful reward such as accomplishing something they understand to be worthwhile. Memorizing and obeying are of a category some wise educator called LABOR, effort to do what someone else wants one to do without the laborer having any meaningful reason to engage in the activity except to please whoever it is for whom he or she labors to avoid punishment or receive a reward the boss offers. The goals of the labor are not the laborers and, thus, there is little emotional investment in the labor. Students involved in meaningful work do the work because they understand the value of the work because they believe in the goals of the work. This is why we fought so hard to get interdisciplinary project based instruction into the schools. I saw the results of this in terms of individual growth on the social and emotional plane and academically in the most practical of ways, in ways the CCSS argue convincingly to be much better than those that are served by most current curricula. Maybe take a look at those standards and consider how the curriculum they suggest helps to eliminate what you believe to be the need for enforcing good behavior and “learning.” Also, buy a copy of my book, The Interdisciplinary Teacher’s Handbook, on line for as little as a dime. The authoritarian approach, based in behaviorism that hates individualism and freedom sucks and that sickedness (my checker wants to change that to wickedness) has made democracy dangerous, sane and humane democracy impossible, this for the sick and wicked desires of a sick and wicked capitalist system.

By lafered

Retired professor of education concerned with thoughtfulness

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