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March 15, 1935, Page 3

"Teachers Puppets of Ruling Class,"
      Declares Principal at Conference

            That leachers are the puppets of "the ruling class from Morgan down" and teach precisely what they are told to teach; and that the good boy is one who will obey, who will not strike, who will not join a I labor onion," was the statement of D. Alexander Fichlander, principal of the Dewey Junior High School at the eleventh annual Junior High School conference at New York University, according to the World Telegram of March 9. ''If we teach differently we will lose our jobs," he continued..

            The need for teaching democratic principles and the extension of the democratic ideal was upheld by the majority of speakers Dr. Fichandler urged the application of democracy in the classroom. He said that students should be encouraged to organize in groups, and should be discouraged from blind obedience,

            "In school life democracy must start in the school room," he said. "In kindergarten, when the teacher asks what games do you wish to play or what story shall I tell, she is starting a democratic method by giving the children a choice. It is important to encourage the children to organize themselves into groups to do what they will, within reason. The modern school has a real chance to put into practice democratic ideals.

            "Are there any limits to democracy in schools? Of course there are. There are certain problems which are beyond the comprehension children. We speak of our experiences in ordering the children, but have we been so successful? Look what we have done to this world. Do we really know more than the kids? When we order them around we must explain the reason.

            "I know of no more damnable lie than Tennyson's ‘Theirs not to reason why, theirs but to do and die.' Where we insist on silence we muar explain to the children that we gave the order to save their lives. Otherwise we make them blind slaves. Blind slavishness should not be tolerated in any school .in the country.. It one is forced to obey, the reason for his obedience should be explained.

            "As long as we subscribe to the ideal of democracy, the greatest thing we can do is to inculcate that ideal in the students."

            Professor Herman Horne, of New York University, asserted that the American principles of democracy must be reconsidered and their meaning expanded. Greater educational opportunity mast be given to all," he said.

            "Education needs to be inter-racial, inter-class and international." he said, "There are over a million American boys and girls not in any school. We have over 5,000,000 illiterates. Our schools should face the -controversial issues of the day frankly and train our youth to think in social and world living."

            Dr. Gabriel R. Masan, principal of the Abraham Lincoln High School, said that "the teachers [sic] faith in democracy is the greatest factor in spiritual growth."

            "The question we ask ourselves is: "Are we dictatorial in our school. or are we democratic enough to elicit the best in our teachers," he said. "We want leachers to be more than mere automatons."


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May 20, 2004