Tuesday, July 19, 2016

A rose by any other name would smell as sweet (William Shakespeare)

Did you hear about the cross-eyed teacher?

He couldn't control his pupils!

Lately, I've heard students being referred to as customers and it got me thinking.

What's in a name? Well, a label is kinda important.



  • (Education) a student who is taught by a teacher, esp a young student
  • A person who is studying at a university or other place of higher education. 
  • A school pupil.
  • Denoting someone who is studying in order to enter a particular profession.

  • A person or organization using the services of a lawyer or other professional person or company.
  • A person who buys goods or services from a shop or business
  • a person with an interest or concern in something, especially a business

Wozza, back in the Jurassic blackboard and chalk era,
teaching pupils at New Plymouth Boys'.

When I started teaching, I taught pupils. No one uses that term any more. Somewhere along the way, it changed to students, who, previously, were those who studied at university.

Reflecting schools growing status as businesses, a student has been stakeholder for a while, but, increasingly, they are now becoming client or worse still customer

I do feel slightly uncomfortable with the business speak that is creeping into education.

Most teachers, myself included, never went into teaching to make money. 

This next bit may sound a tad pompous but...for me and many others, teaching was more of a calling, a vocation that we were drawn to, not a career move but a career. This means that for many of us, equating a school as a business is alien territory. I am aware that this is probably now seen as thinking from the Jurassic period. 

I can see Principal's becoming more CEO style leaders in schools. In the UK Executive Headteachers (in charge of mutiple schools) are becoming more of a necessity. I worry about the repercussions of that move. 

For me, the movement away from being an instructional or transformative leader into a business leader is an unfortunate trend. As Ken Robinson says, "sustaining a vibrant culture of learning is the essential role of the principal.

Hospitals now have guests rather than patients, so at least we haven't gone that way (yet).

Curiously, teachers have always been teachers.

More curious still - teachers and students have never been referred to as learners which is what we all are fundamentally!

Increasingly, with BYOD/ Schoology/ digital technologies - there is blurring between teacher/student roles. We are both learning all the time.

If you're not happy with that and think they need to be differentiated, how about junior/senior

See, a label IS kinda important!

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