Obey – A Dalek Instruction?

While I agree with lots of what the folk who would identify themselves, on Twitter, as traditionalists I am less comfortable with the term obedience as applied to children in school. As always it will depend on what we mean by obedience. Do you, for example, see obedience as blind obedience? Do you react with some concern about the thought of a child obeying unquestioningly?

I wonder of there is a single word that could be used to express the idea that, I hope, the traditionalists mean by the idea expressed as obedience?

Are there two states? Obedience or disobedience? Is it a choice between one or the other? I can’t imagine any other than some de-schoolers, perhaps, who want children to be in an education system that values disobedience.

Disobedience is not the same as questioning, thoughtful reactions to an authority. Some in authority would see any questioning as a challenge to their authority.

Perhaps it is the time of the questioning that might matter. I would support obedience in the classroom. I do not want to have a discussion, child initiated, about why we should be learning this, or whether the teacher should be able to instruct a child. I take this view as I believe the teacher does know best. It is not a power thing but is a professional view. I have an expertise in how children learn and I do want them to work in the way I have planned. This is not a stubborn, unbending process but it says that there is a time and a place for such discussions. The time is not while we are learning in my lesson. I am totally happy to discuss with children why I believe learning should happen in a particular way. I am not unbending and I would try a different way on supporting children’s learning as a result of such discussions.

I wonder how those teachers who do not agree with obedience in the way I have tried to explain it would react if a child in their lesson asked to be taught in a traditional fashion rather than in a more progressive way.

‘Sir, I learn best when you tell me the answer rather than allowing me to discover it!’ Would you change the way you taught that child or would you spend the lesson time discussing the merits of your preferred method? Would you do that 30 times each hour and repeat the process 5 times per day? Would you, perhaps, fall back on the need for children to obey you and work as you had decided? I wonder.

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