Re-thinking the role of Authoritarianism in the classroom. Some of the training I have received is based on the work of Doug Lemov, and includes heavily ritualized classroom routines, in the name of better student performance.
Reading various articles on politics, I've realized the connection those ideas have with the rise of authoritarian leaders.
When we train our students to defer unconditionally to authority and perform ritualized behavior for the sake of compliance, then we must remember we are also training them to do this as citizens.
We should instead be training them to be conscientious and willing participants in the learning process, guiding them on how to master their own futures without unquestioning deference to authority.
I am still working on this balance in my own classroom. I initially recognized "value" in Doug Lemov's work "Teach like a Champion", as far as getting students in compliance with rules and procedures. However, his methods on a whole never felt natural to me. Certainly, some aspects are useful, such as the idea that you should greet each and every student by name and a handshake. This has worked well for me. However, in his version, the handshake and meeting of eyes is REQUIRED from each and every student every day. If you do not shake hands and acknowledge the teacher properly, you must step back and re-enter the room again until you do so properly.
I was reminded of this while reading the 1976 short story "The Wave" which is based on true events in 1967 regarding a teacher's experimentation with authoritarianism methods in his classroom.
I have never forced the handshaking on my students. Once students realize that you will meet them on their terms, they will respect you and in most cases meet you back. That is what has worked best for me - not unquestioning allegiance to authority. Some of them nod. Other fist bump. A few don't respond, but most do.
Recently, I greeted a student by name and asked him how his day was. I overheard a student going into the classroom next door, and she said "I wish my teacher would do that..." very quietly. I barely heard it. But I couldn't get it out of my head.
My goal is not to have regimented and compliant students, but to have inspired and motivated students. My best students demand my attention in a productive manner, and make ME a better teacher, not the other way around. My best students generate their own desire for learning.
I have students who do not have that motivation or desire. Forced compliance, I do not believe, will generate a desire to learn in these students. My goal is this: How to inspire and motivate my most at-risk students?