A guest author at Nature Bats Last has written an excellent, and slightly scary post about a low level college class he took. The class itself had the students mimic the same type of control structure that was used in Ancient Sparta. Sparta for those who are not aware, was an extremely totalitarian slave state. To some degree it was odd in that it not only enslaved its "slaves", but even the upper level participants were tightly controlled. It was not a particularly vibrant culture, and while it was a useful check for when the Athenians got to be too full of themselves, their input into the greater Classical Greek culture has always struck me as rather limited.
The students within the class become part of this highly authoritarian structure. What is scary, is that they seemed to love it.
A Curious Course on Conduct and Crapulence
Andrew Bell guest posting at Nature Bats Last,
To make matters worse, or better, depending on your worldview, the professor has received much adoration for the syllabus. He is flown around the country to do small versions of this syllabus with businesses in the attempt to create better and more efficient work environments, so I am told. The professor also teaches an Athens class which is run in the same way but structured as a democracy. He has informed me that, without fail, the Sparta class gets better grades and is able to get through more material. The Athens class, so he says, is always incredibly unorganized and undirected.
I would strongly recommend following the link and reading the post.The performance difference between the two structures will pose something of a problem for many. When stepping back, the Sparta structure gets better and bigger results. However, as many of the readers have probably come to understand, the problem(s) we are facing today have more to do with bigger, better results of human action than undirected or unorganized human behavior. Taking the idea a bit further there is an assumption that coordinated human effort can solve the problems brought about by coordinated human effort.
I would also say that in a classroom full of students who are facing a rather daunting economy that they will eventually be graduating into, the appeal of strength and certitude would be very powerful.