S. Camarda

DSW/ Villa Montessori (POLAND)
Every student in a public school has felt a teacher's power in at least one way, be it grading, approaching, favoring one student over another. What is teachers' authority, their power over students? Does it exist per se or maybe it is given? A thorough study of laws concerning education in the European Union in general and in Poland in particular shoes no mention whatsoever about innate teachers' authority, which takes us further to the question about the origins of such power. Given that this power is not legally rooted could we say that it is usurpatory? Or maybe it is conditioned culturally? It’s nowhere to be seen, but it is everywhere to be experienced.

Reaching to Aristotle’s theory of power we learn that the authority stems from the creation of pressure, where not fulfilling the order is sanctioned by the threat of realization of something more severe than the pressure of the said order. The foundations of power, therefore, are violence and threat.
The manifestation of a teacher's authority such as grading and promoting students, and - what follows - deciding the direction of their future life, education and professional success leaves room for manipulation of the students. A teacher's position is based on the students' fear of a possible punishment in form of worse grades - firstly, and secondly, on the expectation of an award - better grades, praising, etc.

The system of external reinforcements is only a manifestation of power; parents exert that power at home in the process of rearing their children, while teachers do that at school. In Poland, early years educators and psychologists pay close attention and relate positively to it, even though its negative influence on a child's development had already been proven elsewhere. Its only aim is to force students to obey which completely deprives them of the right to decide about themselves.

The question that inevitably follows is do we really want that kind of obedient students raised and educated in the mentality of a production line? Do they actually need to comply in order to meet with a teacher’s acceptance? Is there room for creativity and divergent thinking in such an approach amongst students and teachers? We will seek the answer to these fundamental questions and entertain a thought of education free from the impact of external reinforcements. The content of this article is based on the most up-to-date research and aims at fighting with common misconceptions concerning learning/teaching in the reality of the twenty-first century.