Students are not customers, in the same way that prisoners, hospital patients and children as dependant minors aren't either. They are people who have been placed under the control of someone else for the good of society and for themselves. Really, they should have zero say in what happens to them, because, the person who is in charge of their care knows much better than them. That’s why they have been placed in their care in the first place.
It is beneficial for them to have some input though. It can be frustrating to have all your control taken away like that, and it helps to be given some say in how things are done. It helps with ensuring that the care is being done in the right way.
Do that too much though, and you eliminate the need for that person to be put in that situation in the first place. In that case, you might as well take away all the teachers, prison guards, doctors and parents.
In education, the student voice at the moment is given far far too much weight. I believe we have reached a point where the teacher’s knowledge and expertise are pushed so far down the hierarchy as to render them completely ineffective, through no fault of their own.
For example, the practice of having students on interview panels is a symptom of this attitude. Students, even the most studious and well behaved ones, do not understand what it takes to be a good teacher. That is why they are still students. Even if their opinions are only taken into account the tiniest bit, giving them the impression that they have had a say in recruitment gives them too much power.
Another example is the student questionnaire. It is massively useful for teachers to find out what students think of their lessons, but, it should not be used as a way to manage that teacher’s performance, which it always is.
What are your student’s voices saying about you, and who is listening to them?
Similar post: Things I Wish Were Different About Teaching: Number 4 Less weight to the student voice