I feel that whatever subject we are assigned to teach, an underlying goal should be to also prepare students to be active participants in a democratic society. And yet, it is undoubtedly the case that during the most formative period in their lives, K-16 education, young people are immersed in an authoritarian system that gives them little control or decision making powers. In short, we seem to be training them to think of authoritarian systems as the norm. I was very much guilty of being part of that system until I started reading about the nature of education and after that I proceeded to change my teaching practices to make them as democratic as I could.
I tried to understand how and why our classrooms have become so authoritarian and felt that it was symptomatic of the breakdown of trust in the student-teacher relationship. I wrote about that and the changes I made and my experiences in an article that I published in Change Magazine, vol. 37, no.3, May/June 2005, p. 50-57.