Education’s Role In Democracy

Image by Mira Bohannan Kumar

Image by Mira Bohannan Kumar

Ellis Chen, Reporter

In schools across the United States, students are perceived as empty containers, waiting for information to be poured into them. Teachers deposit information into students, while the role of students is to passively receive that information. In this way, education is modeled as a banking system. Students receive information, memorize it, and regurgitate it back in countless examinations.

Does this truly reach the full potential of education? Students are prevented from talking about what they care about in school, and controversial discussions are purposefully avoided. Crucial issues such as gun control, police brutality, and elections are never discussed. Time spent preparing students for endless standardized tests trades off with creating students that are active participants in democratic society, decreasing critical thinking and civic engagement. Education is nearly exclusively about ensuring that students have the skills needed to join the workforce.

This has far reaching impacts. Voter turnout in both presidential and midterm elections is low. In the face of increasing political apathy, it’s apparent to me that schools need to teach democratic values and the skills necessary to participate in and engage with the government.

To clarify, I am not suggesting that teachers should push their political ideologies upon students. However, the students themselves should be able to voice their concerns within the classroom.

I believe that this problem can be solved by changing common core standards to include more democratic education. Although it’s important to have a level of standards, standards need to be balanced to help teach students how to be good citizens that take a stand for what they believe is right.

With youth across the country participating in protests and walkouts, it is clear to me that students are more than just containers to be filled with facts and formulas. They have their own opinions and experiences that deserve to be engaged inside of school. Public schools should play their part to foster the agency of students and encourage students to actively create a better world.