The Great Helmsman Need Not Apply Here….

Continued reading and reflection on the search for school that matters…

It’s important to look closely at how parents and faculty are invited to participate in the life of a school. How are decisions made? How is the community grouped for discussion or examination of whole school policy, changes, new ideas and ongoing work? Are the groups integrated with faculty, parents, administration and board members? What kind of input do students have? Does the community feel like a safe place to air ideas, feelings, concerns for all members of the community-or just for some….

The following is an analysis of the authoritarian top down model based on a corporate or business template that works very well in schools where production, order and obedience are prized.

image“The leader makes a grand display of thinking and knowing, planning and choosing and acting–remember, it’s not easy being the Great Helmsman–while the unfortunate (or alternately the privileged) few anticipate being acted upon, and most watch cautiously from the wings. Only the leader is invested with agency and power–no one dares share it–and only the head issues communiques, which everyone hears but no one responds to……….thus the nature of the authoritarian…….. From the perspective of a humane or democratic society, the authoritarian approach is always backward, always wrong–it undermines the spirit of democratic living, it disrupts community, it aims to destroy independent and critical thought…..”

*from Teaching Toward Freedom by William Ayers


About cthebean

Educator, musician, social justice activist...and now a blogger. Children deserve unflinching support from adults.....they deserve nothing less. All kids . Everybody's kids. Everywhere.
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