Teaching for Democracy Not Plutocracy

By Mark Naison

Right now, education policy is being shaped by the presumed needs of employers rather than the aptitudes needs and culture of actual students. The result is classrooms that are stifling and humiliating, where young people’s natural curiosity is being squelched and where teachers are micromanaged to make sure their empathy doesn’t lead them to depart from the script. This is the very opposite of the training for democratic citizenship that that those who created public education in the US once envisioned. It doesn’t lift the spirits of young people, it crushes them in the hope of securing their compliance to their assigned role as low wage workers in an emerging Plutocracy.

Some keys to teaching I have learned through trial and error:

1)  make sure you expose students to information they don’t have in ways that touch their imagination as well as their intellect;

2)  give them time and space to interpret what they are exposed to in their unique voice, using means of expression that they are most comfortable with;

3)  let students know you are there for them outside of the classroom as well as inside it;

4)  make learning exciting and unpredictable and show through your own enthusiasm and passion that you practice what you preach.

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