via Houston Chron: Students are not college customers

Jose Luis Bermudez, a Dean of Texas A&M’s College of Liberal Arts, who is also a professor of Philosophy, writes an op-ed about a persistent metaphor in accountability discussions: on whose behalf do colleges educate their students?


2 Comments on “via Houston Chron: Students are not college customers”

  1. Martha Dunkelberger says:

    I was excited to see this in the Chronicle this weekend. My experience from working in healthcare for many years was that once we stopped considering patients to be people for whom we provided CARE (in addition to service, just as Bermudez states) and began to consider them as customers, the best part of the “helping profession” I’d embraced was irretrievably lost.

    One of the points that I think Bermudez missed is that the process of transferring knowledge is a shared process unlike many provider-customer relationships. Yes, a customer must express desire for a hamburger in order for a hamburger to be purchased and ingested. But education doesn’t require just a desire on the part of the student, but also a willingness to construct an understanding of the information that is offered by the professor/teacher. There’s a big difference between desiring an education and learning something.

  2. Dave Mazella says:

    Bermudez may not go far enough in his defense of an aligned research and teaching mission, because teaching ideally involves some degree of transformation: we want the people we teach to think differently, master new skills, have new options in their lives when they are finished with us. There are short- and long-term effects we are looking for. So students need to be receptive, motivated, and persistent in the face of difficulty, if we are to succeed in our goals. A very different scenario than ordering and eating a hamburger.

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