Leonard Turton on Democracy & Education

Here is a provocative quote on democracy and schools, which I believe to be on the mark, from a person named Leonard Turton who I exchanged emails with on the AERO (Alternative Education Revolution Organization) listserv back several years ago. If you consider yourself a progressive person and you believe that our country should embody democratic principles, I think you need think long and hard about what he is saying, and if you can rationalize our current education system with those democratic principles…

Any society that does not allow its children to practice democracy on a daily basis in its schools is not a democratic society…it is a society whose fundamentals are controlled by other forces while maintaining a democratic front…you cannot have generations of people brought up under state school dictatorial conditions, being told every day what to do and what to think and what, chosen by others, is and is not important, and pretend that those generations of children , on achieving adulthood, are going to demand a true democracy, or even , for that matter, be able to recognize what democracy is or is not… I guarantee, however, that such schools will produce a mass of controllable people who will believe that democracy is whatever anyone in authority over them says that it is…

Though I might not have used such inflammatory language, I believe that what he is saying needs to be reckoned with when we look at our schools today and contemplate transforming education in the 21st Century.

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