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Lesson Plans

Re: Democracy, art, schools and gangs

[ Thread ][ Subject ][ Author ][ Date ]
Robert Alexander Fromme (rfromme)
Sun, 01 Jun 1997 19:34:48 -0600

At 04:49 PM 6/1/97 -0400, EVasso wrote:

>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
>and education.

Please see the definition of democracy which follows your post.

>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.

democracy - \di-'ma:k-r*-se-\ n [MF democratie, fr. LL democratia, fr. Gk
de-mokratia, fr.] de-mos + -kratia -cracy 1a: government by the people; esp
: rule of the majority 1b: a government in which the supreme power is
vested in the people and exercised by them directly or indirectly through a
system of representation usu. involving periodically held free elections 2:
a political unit that has a democratic government cap 3: the principles
and policies of the Democratic party in the U.S. 4: the common people esp.
when constituting the source of political authority 5: the absence of
hereditary or arbitrary class distinctions or privileges

I continue to feel that democracy in my art room would destroy teaching and
Perhaps democracy was not the best choice of words for the natural outcome
of effective human relations which your decribed when you said, "learning is
about teachers and students constructing and reconstructing knowledge
together." This is a given and speaks of basic respect for each other in
the learning process.. You speak of a process which can be found distributed
through the gamet of learning environments. It has little to do with democracy.

After 20 + years in art classrooms (university to elementary), I must admit
to being a realist. One needs structure in order to provide an effecient and
safe learning environment for the students. The students, the parents, the
administrators and the community expect that from every educator. Democracy
can not provide this kind of environment in the art classroom.

Bob Fromme