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Book details
  • SubGenre:Philosophy, Theory & Social Aspects
  • Language:English
  • Pages:278
  • eBook ISBN:9781939389138

Democracy in Peril: Are Schools Guilty?

by Peter H Hennessy

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It is taken for granted that schooling is essential preparation for democratic citizenship. This book argues the opposite; that schooling to age 18 is often a hindrance to the flowering of democratic values and practices. It proposes a different kind of schooling where students learn, partly of course from the school's social life, how to live democratically and harmoniously with each other and other life on planet earth. The claim is documented that schooling typically fosters self-centredness and an attitude that life is little more than a competitive scramble.
In the emerging school culture of digital competence, the focus should be on the questions students ask rather than on the answers they are expected to give. That would require some important structural changes in public schools. First, central offices devoted to preparing, approving and managing standardized tests should be phased out. Measuring one student against the next is not the way of the future. Filling up thousands of pages with test results until the whole country is glutted with invidious comparisons of schools and school districts is a travesty of good education. Second, decentralization of education is critically needed. For example, the textbook approval process could be closed down without any loss to anybody to anybody except the publishing industry. Third, community involvement in the nuts and bolts of education is overdue. Major studies of public education over the past 50 years have recommended engaging community persons and institutions in every day teaching practices. Teacher unionism has road-blocked those efforts. Fourth, compulsory school attendance is obsolete. Some related evils are mediocre instruction, classroom boredom and class-skipping. Fifth, important curriculum decisions should be decentralized so that parents and students play a significant part in deciding what is taught. In summary, democracy in education as a prime value can only flourish in a democratic framework.
About the author
DEMOCRACY IN PERIL- ARE SCHOOLS GUILTY ? proposes a different kind of school where students can learn to live democratically and harmoniously. The author taught in Ontario high schools and Queen's University, 1949 to 1984. He combined his teaching career with academic study at home and abroad.