Thursday, February 19, 2015

Teacher-Student Relationships Ought to be Master-Apprentice Relationships

The ideal teacher-student relationship would be one in which the students chose their teachers and the teachers in turn chose their students, creating a master-apprentice relationship. This would, I think, lead to the kind of educational relationship suggested in my last post.

If students more properly learn through having a close personal relationship with a mentor, the way we teach today simply cannot teach many people very well. And the flat outcomes more than suggest this to be the case. More, as a substitute teacher, I have been listening to middle school and high school students talking about their teachers. I hear students considering teachers as at best people they generally disrespect and don't care about and at worst antagonists. There is no way you are going to learn anything from someone you don't respect, don't care about, or who you think of as an opponent.

But what if students had some say in who their teachers were? What if students were told they could choose a teacher as a mentor, who would help them and guide them? That would mean the students would be more responsible for who they choose as a teacher. There would be more buy-in from the students, and those students would likely have a closer relationship with their teachers. The teachers would also then have more buy-in, since they would more directly care about their students. And the students would know and understand that.

In other words, students would select teachers. But teachers also need to be able to select students. Teachers ought to be able to reject students. This would make it so students know they have to do what is needed to keep their chosen teachers.

I think this could work as early as middle school. And at the university level, you could even introduce the idea of free lance professors. If we reintroduced mentorship, professors could collect students and rent out classrooms at universities, or be able to make a case for getting hired precisely because the can come in with a group of students, demonstrating they will attract students to the university. I think we would have better university professors under such a system. And I think students would learn a great deal more from their professors.

Indeed, if the principle of education is selection rather than instruction, only someone who knows the student well, as we find in a mentorship situation, could know what to select and when. I also suspect that the use of Gravesean psychology would contribute to more proper selection, since one would select psycho-socially appropriate literature, ideas, etc. for the students when they are ready for them. The teacher would thus guide the student toward greater psychsocial complexity. This would mean a complete revamp of education from K through graduate school. It would imply a very different series of works and the kinds of things we ought to be teaching our students. But that's a post for another day.
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