120. Student Council

The decision whether or not to have a student council is difficult for me. I’ll examine some of the pros and cons, but so far I’ve never felt comfortable with the decision to have a student
council or the decision not to. I’ll write this article as a dialogue between two teachers in the teachers’ room.
Pat: Did you read the agenda for the staff meeting? We’re going to decide whether to have a student council this year.
Dale: Oh, no. Not that again. Who suggested it this time?
Pat: I did. I think part of the reason adults don’t vote is that they never voted as children. They got used to having decisions made for them, and grew up believing they had no power.
Dale: So what power are you going to give children? Pat: At least the power to let the decision-makers know what’s on their minds. That’s a start.
Dale: I don’t think it’s a good start. It’s too much like the power we have to affect our representatives – nada. The people with the best campaigning resources get elected, and they claim to be representing us, but they aren’t. So you think we should get children to imitate this process?
Pat: Are you saying adults shouldn’t have representative governments either?
Dale: No. I’m saying children shouldn’t. They’re even more impressed by image than adults are. You know who wins in student council elections – not the child who represents all the children, or even the majority. It’s the child with charisma, or a campaign poster that says, “Win With Winnie!”
Pat: If children learn that they can’t affect the decision-making process, they’ll grow up to stay away from voting booths.
Dale: Maybe, but if they learn that they can affect it, they’ll be disillusioned before they even have a chance to try adult democracy.
Pat: Not if we respond to their concerns. We’ve got to give them some chance to affect what happens in school.
Dale: They are what happens in school! They affect everything that happens here! (silence)
Dale: So are you volunteering to be the faculty advisor for the student government?

Comments are closed.