Front Page Titles (by Subject) The Schoolroom vs. Autonomy - Literature of Liberty, October/December 1978, vol. 1, No. 4
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The Schoolroom vs. Autonomy - 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.
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The Schoolroom vs. Autonomy
“Gatekeeping and Student Role.” Journal of Educational Research 68 (July 1975): 366–370.
Teachers function as “gatekeepers” of what is allowed to happen in classrooms. When teachers control discussions or show favoritism, do they do so on the basis of conformity or of autonomy in their students?
This study investigated the verbal interruptions of teachers and students in 10 public school classrooms. The study involved a total of 245 elementary school (third grade) students. The frequency of interruption was tied to the personality characteristics of the students being interrupted. Student teachers rather than the regular classroom teachers were controlling the classrooms during the study.
Teachers interrupted active-independent-assertive males and flexible-nonconforming-untidy females the most. On the other hand, passive-dependent-acquiescent and rigid-conforming-orderly students of both sexes were interrupted significantly less often than would be expected. Other students tended to follow their teacher's lead in the kinds of students that they interrupted. These findings are somewhat limited in that all but one of the teachers was female. However, the great bulk of elementary teachers are also female so the limitation is of small practical significance.
Williams's study corroborates others which show that teachers tend to reward passive, conforming behavior while punishing independent, nonconforming behavior. Since the existence of authoritarian political and social systems depends in large measure on the tacit support of a large group of the population, teacher support of such behavior undermines free societies. At the same time it builds the kinds of attitudes that make the establishment of an authoritarian society easier.