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Lesson Plans

Re: Democracy and gangs

[ Thread ][ Subject ][ Author ][ Date ]
Robert Alexander Fromme (rfromme)
Fri, 30 May 1997 19:41:42 -0600

At 05:49 PM 5/30/97 -0400, Fred at EVasso wrote:

> As a former student (long ago)and now an art teacher
>(for quite a while) I would certainly agree that schools are not democratic
>institutions for the most part. But don't you think they should be?

Are you suggesting that the students should have the right to vote for
members of their student population and from the community to serve as their
administrators, their teachers and their campus security force? Are you
saying that the kids should be able to determine the nature of
qualifications for each position and how long one can fill the position
before they would be required to run for reelection? Are you suggesting that
they should have the right to control what is (and is not) included in the
art curriculum. Are you suggesting that they would be able to vote on how
much homework they will have, how many times they can go to the restroom in
a class period, what kind of weapons they can carry for self defense and
the number of hours of the day they need to spend in class? Should they have
the right to determine if they even need to go to school?

> If students don't learn democracy in school, where will they learn it?

In other words, we are now required to have to look to the local special
interest groups in the community in order to secure enough money to run for
the position of art teacher in the school? When and if we are elected
(having secured the backing of ... and now owing our continued livelihood
to... those who helped get us elected) we will be told by the students,
their parents, and/or special interest groups, what to teach, how long we
should teach it, how we are to grade the kids, and then we can look forward
to the time when our elected terms have ended so that we can run again.
Should we place the elected body of student government in charge of our pay,
our retirement funds and the administration of our health insurance?

> And why
>do you think most students would tolerate violence and criminality if they
had the power to do otherwise?

Are we to look to a democracy of students to solve those problems? The
democracy of their adult parents, teachers, administrators and other members
of the community have little control over these forces in the real world and
only slightly more control over them in the local schools of our present
system. Why should we expect a democracy of students to accomplish in the
school what the adults in the community have not been able to accomplish in
the real world democracy.

Perhaps we can let the kids learn about the mechanics of democracy in their
government class, the history of democracy and other forms of government in
their history classes and give them some experience in democracy as
participants in clubs and student organizations outside of our art
classrooms, but please don't suggest that the quality of art instruction and
the educational expectations that I have for each of my students should be
eroded or compromised in favor of yet another lesson in democracy.

Could it be that the popular media (those that continue to call themselves
the news), fueled by the antics of our politicians (with "Watergate",
"White Watergate", "Bed and Breakfastgate", "Peckergate" and a host of
others) are teaching kids daily lessons about democracy, its good, its bad
and its ugly?

Bob Fromme