Wednesday, December 5, 2012

True or false?

From a discussion about student evaluation of teaching at the Feminist Philosophers blog:
"A good teacher should be loved by good students and hated by bad students."


  1. It's probably true in the sense in which it's intended (a good teacher will inspire and work hard for those who want to be inspired and who are willing to work hard, but will make life difficult for lazy students), but a lot depends on what you mean by good and bad students. A good teacher will not be hated by relatively unintelligent students. And perhaps a really good teacher will turn bad students into good ones.

  2. Here, "should" could either mean that we expect this, or be indicating a norm that good students satisfy. Either way: it's false.

    During semesters that go well, where I have helped students work hard and come to impressive understanding, I find they are most ambivalent. They learn enough to see their own success, they can see that I helped them get there, and they develop the skills to critically evaluate things more carefully. This doesn't breed love for me as a teacher - their improved critical skills apply to me as much as anything else. Their evaluations, feedback, and interactions with me reflect this. Rarely have they been all that wrong, and after the initial ego blow, I take it to reflect success.

    The second reading has counterexamples. As a student, I could identify good teachers, and I loved them for it. I could learn enormous amounts from those folks. Nonetheless, I was a bad student, half-heartedly completing work and earning grades that reflected that.

  3. I always worked hard in classes unless I truly despised the prof, and in the later case, this was because they were bad at what they did. I think I've had three bad teachers at the college level with four degrees and experience in four universities. I was sometimes angry with someone for pushing me in a direction I didn't want to go, but I never hated them for doing it.

  4. I don't know that I'd say 'should' in a normative sense, but that occasionally provided a good rule of thumb for me in choosing classes, as a student - largely on account of who that meant my classmates would be.

  5. Your best teachers in life you surely can dislike and even hate. You might not realize who was a great teacher or how until latter on after you were an arrogant, young brat.


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