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classroom authority in practice

Posted By: David Gehle on April 9, 2003
Hello, students, teachers, educational scientists, professors,

being a student at the teachers' college in Freiburg, Germany, passing the last steps to the profession (well...) I'm researching information, insight, opinions and experiences on a - i find - very core issue of teaching in schools for my thesis: the question of how to handle classroom authority for good as a

note: 1. mainly targeted school form is secondary education within the compulsory education (in germany: "Hauptschule", "public school" in UK and USA I believe, don't know with spain, france, other americas, asia)
2. language chosen here doesn't exclude countries other than USA/UK, is to be understood as linga franca as well

more specific:

- What do you think is the traditioned general habit in your country (or state) regarding teacher authority? (under assumption that these habits or customs are basically consistent and continuing in daily practice, rather unmolested by any pedagogical discussion up to the present) Do you consider this habit legitimate?

- If any reader of this call for information has or had the opportunity for international comparison (exchange programs etc.) on this question, what, if any, were the differences to her/his home country she or he was beginning to being aware of?

- Is there any public discussion taking place - whether domestic or internationally - led in a purposeful way by professional participants? If so, would you kindly give me a hint?

Background: Doing research on this issue turned out to be rather fruitless. It appears to be strangely circumnavigated by any teacher-related discussion platform (if merely existing), database, any kind of resource whatsoever, national or international. These usually deal with curricula, demand and supply of teachers, skills targeted at, shortly, much more with the "what", instead of the "how". The very process of teaching (which - still - both by nature and by laws appears to me as an asymmetrical one in terms of addresser and addressees) is obviously handled with as a black box. Possible reasons:
- The topic misses a more specific, more unique set of defined and generally agreed terms
- It's situated uncomfortably in between pedagogy, psychology, philosophy...at least I think it can be easily reduced to schooling pedagogy, with it's purpose given
- It is a delicate topic, touching the space of privacy between teacher and pupils/students behind the closed classroom door (which became proverbial in our country), maybe touching some teachers' defeat (in his/her own estimation) concerning the originally pursued professional/philanthropic aims
- The topic is being considered a non-scientific subject (which I would find utterly unintelligible, since it deals with a factual main constituent part within the teaching process)
- It's likely to be mixed up with/reduced to "classroom discipline" which I consider a part or, better, a symptom of present/absent authority.
- Or I'm a blind and deaf person, trying desperately to buy apples in a too big clothing store...

I would very much appreciate any feedback of persons professionably concerned in the above-stated sense (or quite close to it). Of course I will transmit the hopefully reasonable result back on request. Please state explicitly if you wish so.

Thank you

David Gehle

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 classroom authority in practice by David Gehle on April 9, 2003
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