Saturday, December 11, 2010
What is the opposite of democracy?
A short while ago I wrote a post called Education for Democracy. This was a reflection on the final part of Curriculum as Inquiry by Kathy Short and Carolyn Burke who argue that education for democracy is essential for inquiry. Since the Primary Years Programme is inquiry based, it would seem to follow that democracy would be important in PYP schools.
Today I'm reflecting on what is the opposite of democracy and also how international mindedness which is embedded in all 3 IB programmes fits in with inquiry and democracy. For example I am asking myself is it only democracy that is compatible with international mindedness? Or to put it another way, if schools are not promoting democracy is that incompatible with developing international mindedness in their students? There are many IB schools in countries that are not democratic and I wonder how easy is it to teach international mindedness in such settings? There are several different forms of non-democratic or totalitarian regimes, from dictatorships or autocracies (rule by an individual with unlimited power), oligarchy (rule by the few, such as military juntas), theocracy (god is the supreme ruler, religious representatives are divinely guided) and even some forms of monarchy. In international schools in such countries with a large local population, how does international mindedness develop?
Martin Skelton, in a presentation to ISB, talked about the development of self, the awareness of other and then to the self and other co-existing. He talks about the development of family or tribe through to nation and then international and eventually to an awareness of independence and interdependence on a global scale. He asks the question: What is good international education? One of the outcomes of good international education is to produce better global citizens which involves an "openness to otherness, a willing to be challenged and other similar characteristics of personality and mind". So I'm asking can these things also exist in autocracies, or do they just exist in democracies?
Photo Credit: Victory for Iran #Iranelection by Harry Staab