Is My Social Studies Teacher Democratic?

Asst. Prof. Dr., Ondokuz Mayis University, College of Education, Turkey.


Problem Statement: Democracy and education are two concepts that influence, transform, and improve each other in time. In this sense, we could talk about a symbiotic relationship between democracy and education. The social studies teacher himself or herself must primarily be tolerant towards the class, respect both students and fellow teachers, cooperate with all when needed, and then expect such behavior of the students. This is certainly not the sole responsibility of social studies teachers but a collective responsibility incumbent on all teachers. However, a teacher who is teaching the concept of democracy in class is obviously burdened with more responsibility in this context. It is therefore crucial that both the students and the teacher know the extent to which fairness, justice, freedom, and participation are actually practiced in the classroom. If a person’s self-concerning remarks are to be taken as significant and realistic, they need to be corroborated by others. In other words, a social studies teacher’s declaration ‘I am democratic’ gains significance only if their students, too, declare, ‘Yes, our teacher is democratic’.

Purpose of the Study: This study aims to reveal the extent to which social studies teachers’ behaviours are democratic in classroom.

Method: The democratic behaviors of social studies teachers in primary school classrooms were assessed by means of two scales (teacher form and student form) developed by the researcher. The arithmetic mean, standard deviation, and t-test were used in the data analysis for comparable results of teacher (N: 194) and student (N: 1712) views.

Findings: The in-class democratic behaviors of social studies teachers in public primary schools are considered in four dimensions, i.e., freedom, equality, justice, and participation. According to the results of this study, social studies teachers’ perceptions of their democratic behaviors in the classroom are not shared by their students, as far as the freedom, equality, justice and participation dimensions of the research is concerned.

Conclusion: When we look at the results of this study, we cannot miss the dichotomy between the perceptions of teachers and those of the students. While social studies teachers claim to apply the core dimensions of democracy to real life, their students claim otherwise. The students who participated in this survey responded that their teachers did not do their share when it came to the free expression of opinions, equal treatment, consideration of their differences, acceptance as they are, fair treatment, and encouraging student participation in the class.

Keywords: Democracy, social studies teachers, 8th grade students, education.