Education and Democracy
Education and democracy research papers convey that education should not be conceived as being a mere form of training in the disciplines necessary for economic functioning in the world. Instead, education should be regarded as a propaedeutic for citizenship in a democratic society; that is its proper moral and social function. It can accomplish this function in two ways and the role of the teacher is crucial to both.
- First, the teacher can instruct students in the meaning of democracy.
- Second, since, as Dewey believed, the school is itself a miniature society;
- The teacher can so structure behavior in the classroom as to inculcate democratic principles in the students by virtue of "doing" and by virtue of example.
Your research paper on education and democracy should discuss all of these facets of teaching.
With respect to instructing students in the meaning of democracy, the word should be broadly defined. For the purpose of education's achieving its goal of fitting students for citizenship democracy should be seen not only as a way of structuring political decision making, but also as an attitude towards one's fellow men and women. For democracy derives its moral legitimacy not only from the essential fairness of "one man/woman, one vote," but also for what it offers human beings in terms of the opportunity to lead a good life. Robert Dahl, in his On Democracy, lists ten advantages that democracies possess over non-democratic systems. Two of them--to my mind the two most important-are:
- Democracy fosters human development more fully than any feasible alternative.
- Democratic governments provide a maximum opportunity for persons to exercise the freedom of self-determination.
It is easy to instruct students in the nature of democratic systems, i.e. "representative" and "pure" democracies. It is a little more complicated, but no less important, to instruct them in democratic values, and the codes of behavior necessary to preserve, protect, and defend those values.