Sunday, October 17, 2010

Teaching style: authoritative vs. authoritarian

Is your teaching style authoritative or authoritarian? Often the two are confused. Both styles refer to the way an authority figure interacts with their subjects; but each style has its own characteristics and produces different results. If you have clear rules and boundaries, you are either authoritative or authoritarian, but what distinguishes the two is how you enforce. The authoritative style strikes a balance between rules and nurture, whereas the authoritarian style demands that students simply follow the rules.
Authoritative: according to Merriam-Webster Dictionary, authoritative is:

  1. having or proceeding from authority : official <authoritative church doctrines>  
  2. showing evident authority : definitive <a most authoritative literary critique>
This style is balanced style that has been shown to be the most effective. In this case the teacher has clear boundaries with rules, but at the same time responsive to the individual student's needs and emotions.
Authoritarian: according to Merriam-Webster's Dictionary, authoritarian is:

  1. of, relating to, or favoring blind submission to authority <had authoritarian parents>
  2. of, relating to, or favoring a concentration of power in a leader or an elite not constitutionally responsible to the people <an authoritarian regime>
 When I think of an authoritarian figure, I think of a drill sergeant. This style is often punitive and students only comply to demands out of fear of punishment. The downfall that I see with this style is that rather than gaining respect, you gain temporary obedience. I have met some people that think this is the best style because the results are obedience. Some people adopt this style out of fear of being a push over. If that is the case for you, refer back to authoritative.
Don't forget to take the poll on the main page of my blog. :)

For parents: what is your style?

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