I disagree that school must be authoritarian. Yes, of course there was authority, but the school I went to was not authoritarian; there is a difference. The teachers never thought they were omniscient or always right, they never wanted absolute trust, they never punished for independent thinking.binocular wrote:A school is necessarily an authoritarian institution. Any institution that has any relevance in the world, is necessarily authoritarian, ot has to be, in order to have relevance. The difference is only in how intensely and how openly authoritarian the institution is.
Being authoritarian means that the ultimate arbiter is power.
In an environment like that, how can there be any real critical thinking?...
Teachers want us to think they are omiscient or at least always right, they want us to trust them unquestioningly. And if we don't trust them like that, we get punished -- with bad grades, written reprimands that go on our records, and sometimes even physically. But when they betray that trust in some way, what does one do then? How does one make sense of that? How does one continue to trust them afterwards?
I don't see it that way. I hated going to school (and "hated" is an understatement), but I thought that life simply sucks, and that this is just how it is, that this is as good as it gets. That the whole point was to somehow push oneself to the point where one is at peace with the horrors of life, and that those who can't, are weaklings.It must have been stifling for you to attend a school that was so closed-minded and didn't foster free thinking.
We were taught critical thinking and encouraged to be independent. Typically we would read a book or essay, then discuss it with respect to identifying the author's point of view, how it could be biased, how to identify illogical reasoning; we engaged in lively debate in a respectful manner, and were encouraged to offer differing points of view. In case you think I'm making this up, here is the high school mission statement:
"...[students] graduate from our program fully prepared for success at leading colleges and universities. Our...
environment affords you opportunities for leadership and instills a strong sense of empowerment and self-confidence. In an atmosphere of trust and faith, you will excel academically, think critically and creatively, express innovative ideas, prepare for careers in diverse fields, and become an active member of your communities both locally and globally."
It is fallacious to make the assumption that because your school was authoritarian, all schools are the same.