The Concept Of De Facto Authority Essay

The Concept Of De Facto Authority Essay

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2.12 de facto authority
In contrast to the concept of “de jure”, the notion of “de facto” fundamentally means that the existence of something is sustained “by the facts of the case”, but not necessarily by laws and rules (Barrow, 1981, p.99). Authority in de facto terms is therefore about making a descriptive claim that an individual is in practice or actuality being capable of exerting dominance over others’ conducts and beliefs, irrespective of legal entitlement or official status (Steutel & Spiecker, 2000). This is to say, whether the right to demand obedience and direct actions of others is delegated or not, the individual is taking the authoritative position as a matter of fact. As far as the educational practice is concerned, teachers are being de facto authorities by virtue of their professional prestige. They are accredited experts in their field (Barrow, 1981), particularly, on the specific subjects or knowledge that they are supposed to transmit (Hoyle, 1969). Teachers are believed to be knowledgeable and experienced in the subjects they have specialized in, which in turn elevates them to the position of de facto authority.
The entitlement of teachers as de facto authorities, to a certain extent, derives from the acknowledgement of their high-level expertise. “We can speak of a person being an authority purely in the sphere of knowledge” (Peters, 1966, p.239). The authoritative role in the sphere of knowledge is not necessarily established with legal recognition, but granted as an agreed standard of practice in reality. This agreement is “premised on an appreciation of the professional’s expertise” (Goodman, 2010, p.9). Those who offer expertise are venerated as the wellspring of the universally acknowledged ‘truth’ an...


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...thoritative teacher to an authoritarian one in the end.
Having explained the distinction between “authoritative teacher” and “authoritarian teacher” and the risk of “authoritative teacher” becoming “authoritarian teacher”, the following analysis is to identify the problematic characteristics of the authoritarian teacher based on the discourses of “power” and “intelligence”. Firstly, I explain how an authoritarian teacher establishes the hierarchy of power in educational settings with reference to Hannah Arendt’s (2006) discussion on the hierarchical nature of the authoritarian order, and analyse how this hierarchy of power liberates and oppresses students. Secondly, I point out the inequality of intelligence between the authoritarian teacher and students, mostly by referring to Jacques Rancière’s (1991) “stultification” and Paulo Freire’s (1996) “banking education”.

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