It is good practice to respect teachers by word and deed. Even so, if a teacher is incompetent, students do not consider it disrespect to badmouth him or her. After all, students’ lives are significantly impacted by the competence or incompetence of their teachers. Thus, Tim Davis, a special education teacher from California who helped to start a website called RateMyTeachers. com supports the site that allows students to either praise or openly criticize their teachers by stating: “It’s the first time I really feel that students have a voice in their education (“Teachers Earn An F In Freedom”).
” Davis’ opinion is consonant with the freedom of speech theory which grants perfect freedom to all people to express their opinions. The only condition posed by the freedom of speech postulate is that hate speech and verbal abuse are unacceptable in all situations and in all forms. With this essential condition in place, RateMyTeachers. com grants perfect freedom to students to express their positive and negative opinions about their teachers. Many students praise their teachers on the site.
However, one teacher was described on the selfsame website as somebody who “just shows up for a paycheck (“Teachers Earn An F In Freedom”). ” Although a number of teachers have protested against the website because it allows them to be openly criticized by their students, a lawyer representing the New York State United Teachers has observed that the site must surely fall “under constitutional free-speech protection (“Teachers Earn An F In Freedom”).
” It is clear, therefore, that teachers must be tolerant of the opinions of their students. If the opinions are positive, they should encourage the teachers to focus on their strengths and continue improving their teaching styles. But even if students’ opinions are negative, teachers must show empathy and work on improving themselves with the support of their students’ opinions. After all, students care that their teachers do the best that they can in the classroom. RateMyTeachers.
com is an excellent example of the freedom of speech theory in action in this context. Seeing that the opinions of students on the website may be read by anybody with access to the Internet, nothing is hidden from teachers that are truly interested in learning how they are secretly rated by their students. Even without the website, however, students would continue to praise and constructively criticize their teachers. As a matter of fact, students take it in their stride to make good or bad comments about their teachers.
Given that this experience is a regular part of schooling, it is worthwhile for teachers to consider allowing all students to provide them with feedback about their teaching methods on a regular basis. Indeed, teachers may want to show respect for their students’ opinions – regardless of whether they are positive or negative – with the understanding that their students’ opinions support them in their quest to improve their teaching styles. What is more, students should be allowed to openly praise or constructively criticize their teachers without having to fill out anonymous evaluation forms.
This would also help to build greater rapport between students and teachers. Most importantly, such practice would help students to gain more confidence in their effort to make politically correct speech; and for both students and teachers to learn and grow together, despite the divergency of their developmental stages.
“Teachers Earn An F In Freedom. ” New York Library Association (8 October 2003). 1 April 2008. <http://www. nyla. org/index. php? page_id=676>.
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