A well debated, discussed and famous phrase by Lord Aston was “Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”
As pointed out in one of the countless articles available on the subject:-
(Please read this article to understand more about Paradox of power and various experiments conducted on “how power changes our behavior”)
The dynamics of power can profoundly influence how we think. When we climb the ladder of status, our inner arguments get warped and our natural sympathy for others is vanquished. Instead of fretting about the effects of our actions, we just go ahead and act.
Education gives absolute power in the hands of schools and teachers. This is brutal on the part of children for nobody ever asked them, they don’t have a say and the power given to the teachers corrupts them in no time and they take pleasure in use of mindless authority, they take pride is unoriginal heroism, they do all kind of hideous things to kids and think it’s their right to do it and they are doing for the sake of kid.
When I was not a teacher, I’d always wonder that how cruel and brutal these teachers are to do this to poor kids. Then I joined a new progressive school and started teaching. I was very compassionate, patient and sensitive to kids in the beginning but within a year I noticed that I am getting the traits that I hated in my teachers. (like – to be judgmental, to be unfair and unreasonable, to have preconceived notions about every student, to exercise my authority and polish my own ego)
I was taken aback with what was happening. Upon contemplation I realized that I am being sunk into the “schooling” culture where everybody wants a teacher to be authoritative and behave this way. I had power to exercise authority and escape on being unfair and unreasonable on kids. It was all consider fine, pardonable. Parents took no objections, my school authority expected it from me, even students looked surprised when I try not to be authoritative and try to be fair. (Of course, all the blame can’t be put on to the schools and culture, I am as an individual is also responsible for behaving the way I do but the point is that schooling culture supports the negative traits of the teacher rather than helping him/her overcome them)
One of the biggest flaws in school culture is this “power equation” of kids and adults. They are not considered equals. (in practice, some new schools talk about it in theory but in practice still the equation doesn’t change) Adults, teachers have power to vent out their “whatever” emotions/conditioning/biases onto kids and still never be questioned for it. Infact, the better you do it , chances of being considered a good teacher are higher.
Change is Essential
We must change this power equation in school. Learning can never happen when there is no care and a big authoritarian divide. Adults and Kids must be treated equally in the school environment. The power equation which is heavily tilted towards teacher’s side must change. Students must have power, they must have equal say in various things. They must be consulted and integrated in the part of decision making process that concern them.
Adults must leg go of this inhuman power they posses because of flawed nature of our education system. They must be aware and try to ensure not to be victimized by it.
Only in an environment of fairness and equality, can we perhaps inculcate the values of significance and help them learn something meaningful.