Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Educational Responsibility

So I recently got into a rather heated discussion about this with a friend. The question I've devised, related to our discussion is this: Who is at fault when the student misunderstands the presented material?

This dicussion revolved around Sexual Assault Response and Prevention training that we are required to attend rather frequently. I won't give the full discussion but it went something like this:

Me: We were taught X in training.
Friend: No, that's not what the training says. I am and have been a trainer for that program for 3+ years.
Me: I know the most recent training was different but I've definitely been trained X in the past.
Fr: Well then you messed up. You're at fault for misunderstanding.

I COMPLETELY disagree. Then my friend said that I was shifting blame.

Before I go into why I disagree I want to make something crystal-clear. I DO NOT blame any teacher for students' bad grades. In most, or at least many, educational situations the concept, "you can lead a horse to water but you can't make him drink," applies. If the teacher teaches a list of 1,000 facts, and the student is responsible for regurgitating 100 of those facts on a test, when the student doesn't memorize the facts through thorough study, it is COMPLETELY the student's fault. The situation in question is different in many ways.

In situations wherein there is a reasonable chance of misunderstanding, or in situations wherein the teacher actually makes a mistake the responsibility falls mainly on the teacher to rectify the mistake. In the former, the teacher should not hold the student responsible, because it is up to the teacher to verify that everyone understands. Now, in this type of situation it's somewhat the student's fault. The student should engage in active learning. He/she should be actively asking questions to verify the message. In the situation in question someone DID ask questions and the teacher repeated/confirmed the message, X that I recall. In the latter situation, when the teacher legitimately makes a mistake, the student could still be at least somewhat at fault, but it is primarily--well, pretty much 99% the teacher's fault. The reason it could be somewhat on the student's shoulders is, in the course of reviewing/studying, the student should have found the truth and come to the teacher for clarification.

The training in question here was a perfect storm of failure. The trainer/teacher was an authority on the matter (well sort of) and when he/she made a mistake no one challenged the trainer with the truth. Hence I had the wrong information, and it falls on the trainer, not me. If you know me in person you'll know I don't have a problem saying, "I'm wrong," or ''I'm sorry."