‘Customers’ replace students

Students see themselves as “customers” who are always right, complains Brian P. Hall, an assistant professor of English at Cuyahoga Community College in Cleveland in the Chronicle of Higher Education.

In the middle of a semester, one of my students in my developmental English course came to my office to tell me that he had to withdraw and that it was my fault. He couldn’t continue because my teaching style didn’t meet his needs.

. . .  I had interfered with his learning style . . . by assigning homework, giving tests, taking attendance, and requiring that all essays be typed, printed out, and handed in at the very beginning of class.

When I began to tell him that I do all of those things because I’m trying to teach academic responsibility, he interrupted and said, “You’re not letting me be me.”

Students complain he’s disrespectful if he doesn’t give lecture notes to a student who’s missed two or more weeks of class, or when he tells a student not to answer her cellphone in class.

It would be easier to be an “educational liaison” teaching “what they want to know and nothing more,” Hall writes. “Learning clients” would be allowed to “answer the phone in class whenever they wanted, to pick which days to come to class, and to determine when, or even if, tests and papers would be assigned.”

If students were dissatisfied with my service, they could fill out a complaint form, and I would tell them that someone would contact them in 24 to 48 hours.

In another developmental English course, students said teachers need to show they care about students.  They wanted a lax attendance policy because “we have lives outside of class” and they wanted their papers graded and returned within 48 hours.  Anything else would be disrespectful.

Another professor complains of entitled graduate students who demand that standards be lowered for their convenience. If the instructor refuses to accept shoddy or plagiarized work, they “resort to a new code of conduct that includes acted-out rage, lack of respect, and blame.”


POSTED BY Joanne Jacobs ON April 4, 2011

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[…] students see themselves as “customers” who are always right, a professor complains.  He must cater to their “learning styles” to show respect, but […]

Mike Anderson

I’m surprised that many college professors are so lacking in insight that they can’t field this one ad lib. Students are customers, but they usually misunderstand the nature of the particular teacher-client relationship. I explain to my students that I’m their Intellectual Personal Trainer, and it’s my job to make sure they get a demanding workout every time we meet. No pain, no gain, and no skipping sessions. Otherwise, they’ll just keep being their sad little flabby selves. They can act out all they want, but there’s no substitute for doing the work–just ask the football coach! Now, if I could only do pre-semester tryouts, and do the cuts early…

Are College Students Customers?

[…] like customers – and that in their world, the customers are always right. Joanne Jacobs pulls the same passage I wanted to highlight in which Hall describes one of his unhappy customers: In the middle of a […]

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