Essay on role of education in democracy

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Essay on role of education in democracy

Research Assistant Professor Please do not quote without permission of the author Schools should be viewed not only as institutions that impart certain knowledge and skills to students, but also as environments that socialize them.

Socializing students to achieve just what "aims" is the subject of current debates among educators, politicians, and business leaders alike. This debate can be understood as a conflict among three points of view: The skills and dispositions needed to actively participate in all aspects of democratic life include: In reviewing the research literature on education for democratic participation and social and civic responsibility, L.

Ehmanreports, The findings from this review suggest that the manifest curriculum i. This latent curriculum includes how classes are taught, not the subject matter itself. This classroom climate is directly manipulable by teachers and represents a potentially important level in the political education of youth.

The entire school governance climate, which is another aspect of the latent curriculum, is another consistent correlate of student political attitudes.

In a sense, schools that best teach students the skills to participate actively in democracy are themselves institutions that reflect democratic principles not only in word, but also in deed.

The "latent curriculum" that Ehman speaks of is essentially experiential in character, centering on the kinds of relationships the students form with their peers, teachers, school leaders, community members and the school culture as a whole. There is much more to be learned about the relationship between decision making and actual social and political participation, but these studies demonstrate that participatory and democratic school culture makes a significant difference in some of the key building blocks of social responsibility.

Schools serve as public spaces, where community members gather to make decisions board meetings, parent-teacher organizations, etc. Students attend events and participate in activities at the school which lay outside of the context of the normal school day.

They may witness their teachers acting as citizens outside of the context of their roles as teachers.

Historically, public schools have been governed democratically via the roles and responsibilities given to elected school boards. While, to varying degrees, authority has been given to appointed and hired professional educators to make decisions concerning the operation of schools.

The extent to which teachers, parents, students and individual community members have a voice in decision-making varies as well. No matter how decisions are made, students can learn about democracy through the ways that decisions are made in their schools. Berman cites studies that have concluded that structured civic education curriculum designed to teach civics to students didactically is not effective in imparting a sense of social responsibility in students.

He goes on to conclude that when it comes to civic education, it is less important what students are taught than how they are taught.

According to many of those who believe that the aims of education should be devoted to the preservation of democratic processes, the prevailing educational culture found in most schools is based on a philosophy of scientific management in which hierarchy, linearity, and efficiency are stressed.

Students learn how to follow direction, conform to norms, and compete with each other in order to succeed. This traditional pedagogy relies on didactic, authoritative learning methodologies in which the teacher is viewed as the "expert" with knowledge to impart to the students.

It teaches students important fundamental lessons about their proper, passive roles in their education and by inference in society-at-large.

Essay on role of education in democracy

These "closed" classroom environments fail to teach students much about democratic processes and how to function within them. A closed classroom climate is one where teachers use authoritarian classroom strategies, maintain singular control of the classroom and curriculum, and either avoid controversial topics or present limited perspectives on these conflicts.

In his [Ehman ] extensive review of the political socialization literature, he found that open classroom climates promoted democratic values, enhanced efficacy, and encouraged participation while closed climates promoted authoritarian values and had a negative impact on efficacy and participation.

Lemingfound the same pattern in his review of the impact of contemporary issues curricula. These progressive educators have posited, in turn, alternative ways of understanding and practicing progressive pedagogy. Popular education, collaborative learning, problem-posing education, and many other alternative approaches to education draw upon the assumption that learners learn best when they take on a responsibility for their own learning.

One such pedagogical approach that requires such a responsibility and seeks to link participatory forms of learning to life beyond the narrow confines of the classroom is "service-learning.40 (Volume 20, No. 1) March, Introduction by The Editors.

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