Things I Wish Were Different About Teaching: Number 4 Less weight to the student voice

Of course it is important to get a rounded view of the education on offer, and of course that involves consulting the students. It can provide valuable information on what really goes on in classrooms, and as the ‘end user’ of the service their opinion of it is key.

But far too much weight is given to what they say, and they are given far too much power with it. It is now commonplace for students to interview prospective teachers, as if they are the ones that are going to be calling the shots if that teacher is hired.

In a culture where teachers are worried about ‘losing face’ in front of a class, and are careful not to undermine each other in front of students, this practice strikes me as being in complete disagreement with that.

It is also perfectly possible for a student or a group of students with a vendetta to make a sustained case against a member of staff, that could be based on pure fiction. It is as if senior management have forgotten that students quite often lie, are petty and already think the world is out to get them, without someone high up taking all of that seriously.

Students have the power to wreck a teacher’s reputation, without having any professional knowledge on what it takes to be a good teacher. Yes, consult them as users of the service, but don’t treat them like trained, experienced, professional individuals. 

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