What are the principles of democratic education? How are these principles and values in tension/contradiction with our social construction of children and youth? For example, what assumptions do we make about teaching, learning and youth that democratic schools challenge? How does "one size fits all" centralized curriculum contribute to what Apple called the "de-skilling of teachers"? What is lost when this approach is adapted, especially when it is combined with the "intensification" of teaching? Explore the contradictions between what we say we want our students to be when they are finished their schooling (engaged, critical thinkers, active contributors and problem solvers) and how we are often educating young people. How does democratic education address this? What are some of the challenges educators who want to introduce democratic principles into their schools face? What are some of the potential rewards? How does democratic education address the notion that all education, even that which claims to be value-centered, is political? Explain the relationship that concepts like voice and agency have to democratic principles in Education.
All beings are created as individuals and have different habits and intelligence. Ayers (2009) says that every human being is capable of infinite and incalculable valve. All of us have an exclusive intellectual, spiritual, moral, physical, emotional and creative force. Each person is born free and is equal in dignity and right. Each endows with reason and conscience. Every individual deserves a community and wisdom of brotherhood and sisterhood, recognition and respect. This core value should be explicitly expressed in education as in every other discipline of associative living.
Amy Gutmann (1999, p. 46) defines democratic education as "a worldwide movement towards greater decision-making power for students in the running of their own schools." There is no common and agreed definition of the term, but at the IDEC (International Democratic Education Conference) (2010) the members agreed that, in any educational set, young people have the right:
To decide individually how, when, what, where and with whom they learn
To have an equal share in the decision-making in the running of their school and determining the rules and sanctions, if any, are necessary.
IDEC (2010) supports schools which uphold respect and trust for children. They believe in shared responsibility and freedom of choice of activity. IDEC is open to schools which follow equality of status of children and adult and democratic governance by children and staff together. They do not believe in any superior guide and system.
Principles of Democratic Education
There are two different sets of democratic education:
A learning community based on equality and mutual respect
Apple (1995) defines democratic education as that children and teachers engage in collaborative planning, reaching decisions that are in the interest of both their aspirations and desires. Those involved in democratic schools prize diversity. They consider themselves participants of communities of learning. Such communities include people representing a broad spectrum of age, culture, gender, ethnicity, socioeconomic class and abilities. However, these differences do not create stereotype; instead they enrich the community.
Democracy means by definition means "by the people, for the people." Therefore, it gives the community a shared purpose and allows people to set aside their self-interests and work for the greater good. Common goal is the central idea of democracy. Beane & Apple (1995) explain that educators who are committed to democracy know that any inequality at schools will also be found in the community. Hence, they seek not only seek democracy in institutes but also want to extent to the community. If the community does not follow democratic conviction then concentrating on democratic education is pointless, because the young people will be affected by their surroundings and the concept will fail. Democratic education seeks to lessen the harshness of social inequities in school and change the conditions which create them.
Challenges by Democratic Schools
Democratic school challenge the approach of teaching that follows the belief that young people are to follow the lead of their teachers and not question their ability or knowledge. Democratic approach says that students and teachers should go hand-in-hand. They should participate in not only teaching practice but also the curriculum. Democratic education challenges the conventional way of assembling the curriculum and focus on broadening the horizons. These schools need to be based on the broad definition of "we," a commitment to build a community that is of the school and the community in which the school exists.
One Size Fit All
Today all the focus is on privatization, marketization and decentralization. So, for teachers, going beyond "approved" material risks administrative consents. Jungck (2000) explains in her article that there is an immense pressure in not only to redefine the methods of teaching but also the purpose of education. If the schools, their teachers and curriculum are closely knitted, more technology oriented, according to the needs of business and industry, then it is expected that the problems of achievement and unemployment will be disappear along with the international economic competitiveness.
In most of elementary and high schools, the curriculum is planned by the national or state department of education. It took teachers a lot of time and effort to minimize the total administrative control over the curriculum. Apple (1995) says, that after all, it is the teachers who teach in the class room and thus they should have a say in the matter. In most Western industrialized nations, the phenomenon of de-skilling of teachers is become common. It means that when individuals are unable to control a large portion of their job, they forget the essential skills required to perform the job.
Teachers have been alienated from the tasks of setting curricular goals, designing lessons and individualized attention to students according to ability and need. Now, instead of teachers who care about what and why they teach, executioners of someone else's plan are created. The effect of this practice is very hostile for the profession of teaching itself.
Quality is sacrificed on quantity as a result of de-skilling of teachers. They now want to "cut corner" and rely on the experts for their job. Jungck (2000) tells the concept of "intensification"; she says that collective skills of teachers are list as they concentrate on management skills. Ayers (2009) enforce the importance of education. He says that all children and youth in a democracy deserve full access to richly resourced classrooms led by caring, thoughtfully qualified, and generously compensated teachers. Whereas democratic education I affecting the professional teachers and turning them into managers. Intensification results in lack of enthusiasm and simplistic response to innovation.
Educating Young People
Every student brings their experiences and skills to school. They represent their community (Ayers, 1994). In another article Ayers (2009) states that, "students should be able to make up their own judgment based on evidence, ask fundamental questions and pursue answers wherever they take them." Democratic education is about opening doors of opportunity and opening minds as students make their own pathways into the world.
Beane & Apple (1995) explain by research that young people are more interested to learn through experience. They do not like to study from tapes because they already know most of the stuff. Teachers also don't interact during this type of sessions and the outcome is not as desired. So, democratic education
Challenges, Rewards & Political Belief
Ayers (1992) tell that in order to introduce democratic education, people have taken very important steps. Young people have been given space and considered while making policies. A great challenge however was inadequately trained staff. Apple (1995) says that a very challenging task was to broaden the horizon of education from the conventional curriculum. Also, in order to achieve democratic education, the community and school needed to be connected. However, the outcomes of democratic education are vast. The students are grown to be with high thinking ability and contribute to their society. Although no matter what the core value, it is always of political benefit.
Ayers conclude that (2009) "educators, students, and citizens should press for an education worthy of a democracy, including an end to sorting people into winners and losers through expensive standardized tests that act as pseudo-scientific forms of surveillance. There should be an end to starving schools of needed resources and then blaming teachers and their unions for dismal outcomes. Militarization of schools, zero tolerance policies, gender identity discrimination and end to limited resources due to communities historically isolated, underfunded, and underserved."
Question No. 2
Outline the tenets of neoliberalism in relation to education. What are the organizing value sets and key assumptions to this ideology? How are they aligned with or in conflict with the goals of some of the other models we have looked at in education (for example, Dewey's notion of child-centered education) where is power and authority located in a neoliberalist model? List a few of the key ideas of neoconservatives in relation to education. Can a person be both a neoconservative and a neoliberal at…