Front Page Titles (by Subject) Schooling for Conformity - Literature of Liberty, October/December 1978, vol. 1, No. 4
The Online Library of Liberty
A project of Liberty Fund, Inc.
Search this Title:
Also in the Library:
Schooling for Conformity - Leonard P. Liggio, Literature of Liberty, October/December 1978, vol. 1, No. 4 
Literature of Liberty: A Review of Contemporary Liberal Thought was published first by the Cato Institute (1978-1979) and later by the Institute for Humane Studies (1980-1982) under the editorial direction of Leonard P. Liggio.
About Liberty Fund:
Liberty Fund, Inc. is a private, educational foundation established to encourage the study of the ideal of a society of free and responsible individuals.
This work is copyrighted by the Institute for Humane Studies, George Mason University, Fairfax, Virginia, and is put online with their permission.
Fair use statement:
This material is put online to further the educational goals of Liberty Fund, Inc. Unless otherwise stated in the Copyright Information section above, this material may be used freely for educational and academic purposes. It may not be used in any way for profit.
Schooling for Conformity
“Teachers' Attitudinal Responses to Differing Characteristics of Elementary School Students.” Journal of Educational Psychology 69 (1977): 261–265.
Do teachers teach conformity and stifle individual autonomy?
The authors report a study of public elementary school teachers' attitudes toward descriptions of students who varied along personality, ability, and sex dimensions. A total of 53 elementary teachers were given 16 personality descriptions of students. The teachers reported on their feelings of attachment, rejection, concern, and indifference to each of the 16 descriptions.
Attachment—The teachers reported significantly higher levels of attachment to rigid-conforming-orderly and passive-acquiescent-dependent students. Teachers reported significantly lower levels of attachment to active-independent-assertive and flexible-nonconforming-untidy students.
Rejection—Teacher feelings of rejection essentially mirrored feelings of attachment. The feelings of rejection varied between sexes. Teachers displayed strongest feelings of rejection toward flexible-non-conforming-untidy boys but rejected active-independent-assertive girls the most.
Concern—A student's academic ability stirred up teachers' feelings of concern more than any other dimension. Students with lower scholastic ability elicited more concern. However, the teachers reserved their highest levels of concern for passive and dull students rather than their more active-independent counterparts.
Indifference—Teachers were generally most indifferent about active-independent-assertive students while least indifferent about their rigid-conforming-or-derly schoolmates.
The implications of this study are very clear. Teachers in this study felt positive attitudes toward those students inclined to accept authoritarian classroom practices, whereas they rejected those more autonomous students unlikely to accept authoritarianism. To the degree that teachers practice these paternalistic attitudes, they dampen student autonomy and encourage self-effacing conformity. Such classrooms are nurseries not for freedom but for authoritarian, political, and social environments.