Are schools democratic places?

At first I thought this question would be easy, of course schools are democratic places. We live in Canada, Canada is a democratic place so why would out schools be any different?  Than I realized I wasn’t exactly sure what the question was asking, this  caused me to look up what it means to be a democratic place; this is what I found, a society that uses democracy as a form of governance, with democracy being

  1. “to participate in the decision-making processes of every organization that makes decisions or takes actions that affect them, and;
  2. to hold other individuals, and those in these organizations who are responsible for making decisions and taking actions, fully accountable if their decisions or actions violate fundamental human rights, or are dishonest, unethical, unfair, secretive, inefficient, unrepresentative, unresponsive or irresponsible”.

It was than that I realized from a teachers and students perspective school were not a democratic place. Teachers have some say of what happens in their classroom but no say of what they teach, how the school is ran, the set-up, rules or expectations of the school. Decisions are made way above the teachers and students level. Those that make the decisions hold little responsibility of what decisions they make. The people in the authority positions, whether it be the governement, STF exec, superintendents or school boards.

It seems that those in the decision making power cannot decide if they want to control what is taught. Something they are very prescriptive with like math, and English but other things such as treaty ed and citizenship education are very loosely outlined. They are part of the curriculum but they are part of the curriculum that is there because someone somewhere decided they needed to be in the curriculum but many teachers feel uncomfortable teaching the material because there is no guidance on how to teach it, and it can be a very controversial topic.

Students have no say in what happens, there is no vote that helps them have say in decisions made about education, but they are the ones most effected by the decisions. It is teachers that have to figure out a way to make the decisions work but it is the students who have to stand by and watch as their learning is  changed every time a decision is made. Schools are a place where democracy is taught via lectures and the occasion look at politics but without being truly engaged in the democratic process.


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