Tuesday, June 07, 2005

The "f" word

In the course of the 2 years I was a teacher, I managed to observe and take note of the qualities students dislike in their teachers. One popular (or should I say unpopular?) choice is “favoritism,” or when a teacher plays favorites. I tried recalling whether this was one of the things I had disliked in my own teachers back when I was still a student, and it wasn’t. I hated classmates who were teacher’s pets, yes, but I did not really care much if a teacher had a favorite student, no matter how blatant he or she was about showing it. Blatant stupidity and close-mindedness I could not pardon; a little favoritism was forgivable.

I do understand why students hate it when a teacher plays favorites, especially in extreme cases where the less favored ones obviously get the short end of the stick. However, I also believe it is unavoidable for a teacher to have favorites; they are, after all, only human, regardless of what their students think (Lynn a.k.a. Ms. Gutierrez calls it the mother of all myths about teachers, that they are infallible, all-knowing androids with no character flaws whatsoever). A teacher is allowed to have favorites—a teacher cannot help but have favorites—and she should not be blamed for it, provided that she does not let it directly affect her teaching and skew her judgment as a teacher. In other words, no matter how much a teacher loves a student, a wrong answer is a wrong answer, a bad essay is a bad essay, an infraction is an infraction, and a sanction is a sanction. No special treatment, no exceptions, no singling out.

Even if a teacher does bend the rules a bit for a certain student, or goes out of the way to be extra nice to a kid, it shouldn’t be taken against her immediately. Some of the best teachers I know would come dangerously close to breaking rules and committing unethical practices, as long as they know it’s in the best interests of not just the student concerned, but of all her students, favorites or not. In other words, a good teacher, even while having her favorites, will always take into consideration the feelings and welfare of every single one of her students.

Did I have my favorites? Of course I did. Did I let it show? I tried not to, but I have found that students can invariably tell if a teacher is particularly fond of a student. Did my students resent me for it? I don't think so, but I have also found that teachers are not always aware of what students really feel, so I could be wrong. Haha.

It's not a crime to have favorites, it's human nature. When parents say they love their children equally, I scoff. I don't doubt they love all their kids, I just have a hard time believing they don't have their favorite among them. It doesn't make them bad parents, unless they dote excessively on the one kid and neglect the others. My best friend and I once had a discussion about if there is such a thing as pure objectivity. We agreed that humans do not have the capacity to be absolutely objective, and in the same vein, no one can claim they do not have their favorites, whether it's a child or a student or a class or a teacher, a basketball team, a TV show, a pair of jeans, a flavor of ice cream...

10 Comments:

At Wednesday, June 08, 2005, Anonymous karen said...

favorite mo ako noh? XD [okay, kapal.]

last year, i loved english and hated math. (you may have a hard time believing this since i tend to 'rest my eyes' during your class.)
pero this year, i love math na! and do not look forward to english at all.

i used up all my powers kanina para
hinde ako nakatulog. =D
kahit nakakapagod, i intend to keep my promise.

 
At Wednesday, June 08, 2005, Blogger Anica said...

I've been thinking about this topic the whole day today, even during disussions (haha!). Actually, it wasn't only today that I thought about it, but probably all my life as a student.

Favoritism is probably the only thing about teachers that I do not like. It's like a form of social injustice, of discrimination inside the classroom. I think if teachers play favorites, they tend to give that student or students extra attention and extra understanding. If a teacher has favorites in class, then it's not surprising that she would not be as fair as she should be. That's favoritism for me anyway. So it's like favoritism is at the top of the list of character flaws teachers possess and everything else is just related to it. Maybe I dislike it so much because I'm always (well, 9 out of 10 times) at the losing end. Hehe.

It's true. I could tell you of some experiences wherein teachers really showed they have favorites and "un-favorites", but I don't think I should put that here. :) I've seen a number of teachers before overlook some "errors" of their favorites, probably so that their image of these students wouldn't be tainted or destroyed for some supposedly "little" mistakes that are actually greater if others had committed them. Take it from someone who knows. :) So for me, playing favorites is playing favorites. There's bound to be unequal treatment, whether right or wrong, just or not. :)

Fortunately, I'm used to the idea of favoritism. In some ways, it helps. Teachers wouldn't really expect much from you and that's what's slightly good about it. At least in my perspective.

 
At Wednesday, June 08, 2005, Blogger Ailee Through the Looking Glass said...

Karen: Check out the paragraph I added. Students are good at detecting who the favorites are. So if you're confident enough that you are one of them, then maybe you are. Are you? Haha.

And don't worry. Despite your penchant for "resting your eyes" during my period, I could tell you loved English. :)

 
At Wednesday, June 08, 2005, Blogger Ailee Through the Looking Glass said...

Ange: I think it all depends on how the favoritism is made manifest. Some teachers are better at masking it than others. The good ones don't mean to be unfair, and to their credit, it really is difficult, close to impossible, to maintain equal treatment at all times. The rest we already talked about. :)

 
At Thursday, June 09, 2005, Anonymous Jac said...

Hahahahaha :D The sage speaks! It's true though...everyone has their flaws and people can't help being more inclined towards something more than the other...or someone even. Really interesting, Miss Lim. :D

Oh ya, you seem to be like Jo in one way or another. Hehehehehe :D La lang.

 
At Thursday, June 09, 2005, Blogger Ailee Through the Looking Glass said...

Thanks Jac, although I don't know if Jo should be happy with all the comparisons, hehe. We mentioned you in one of our conversations, I was telling her and Chars how much I missed you. :)

 
At Thursday, June 09, 2005, Blogger Anica said...

Are you trying to make me feel guilty? :)

Every time I say something, it ends up sounding like I'm writing an essay of an interesting topic for school. I don't mean to generalize the whole "teachers'-character-flaw" idea, contrary to how it appears to be. But I do understand the complexity of such things. even if it didn't come out exactly as I would have wanted it to. :)

 
At Friday, June 10, 2005, Anonymous Jac said...

Oww...miss you too, Ms. Lim. If i was there...we could meet up! Joint birthday celebration even! hehehehehe :D

 
At Saturday, June 11, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

favorite? that could only be me! haha! JKJK!!!! (then again, jokes are half meant! :p)

 
At Saturday, June 11, 2005, Blogger Ailee Through the Looking Glass said...

If I knew who you were, maybe I'd be able to confirm/deny it. Haha.

 

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