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Democratic Schools

From my personal experience in traveling around the world, it can be quickly said that many, if not most, schools are much closer to dictatorships and totalitarian regimes than to any kind of democracy. In far too many schools the director or principal has almost unchallenged authority, and "democracy" is just a word studied from textbooks and used in propaganda, but not put into practice within the walls of the school itself.

While visiting schools in South America I began to understand why there have been so many dictatorships and military regimes there. My explanation, or one of the reasons at least, is that the schools teach children and teenagers to feel powerless. The teachers feel powerful only when they are giving orders to the students and exercising their ability to threaten, punish, judge, grade etc. But the teachers do not themselves have power to bring about changes in the school or the education system. The power is held by the directors and the state.

An encouraging trend, which seems to be led by a growing number of parents and teachers in the USA is one of what can truly be called democratic schools. The best website to visit on such schools is AERO, an organization which supports democratic schools around the world.

S. Hein

Note: Here is a link to my pages on the Peruvian education system for an example of an extremely un-democratic system.


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