Perhaps the issue of what is democracy, where do you teach it and how do you
learn it, might be better served on a philosophy list-serv.
I'm a professional art teacher and barely an amateur philosopher, so perhaps
I'm not really the best person to go into depth about the nature of democracy
But this I know:
All this talk about kids electing teachers, voting on homework and how many
times they can go to the bathroom is hardly the issue. Schools as "benevelent
dictatorships?" Jeez, what is ever BENEVELENT about dictatorship?
Dictatorship corrupts and destroys the values of a society. Why should
schools be any different? If the larger society is to be democratic, than
democracy is exactly what needs to be taught and practiced in public schools.
Democracy is not primarily about voting or majority rule. Democracy has to do
with allowing voices to be heard, with debate and concensus, freedom and
responsiblity. It should not be, as Bob suggests, confined to democratic
"mechanics" in a government class. And what does this have to do with the
art room? Democracy is essential to the art curriculum as it is to any other
curriculum. If we view learning as only the transfer of some specific skills
and facts, then, of course, what does democracy mean in that context. But if
learning is about teachers and students constructing and reconstructing
knowledge together, than it is a profoundly democractic activity.