Teachers in position of conflict of interest

Letters to the Editor (The Guardian)
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Education Costs

Editor: It’s not fair to students for teachers to both teach and rank (referee) their own students; teaching and ranking, like coaching and refereeing, are separate roles and should be treated as such. Performing both roles with the same students places a teacher in a position of conflict and, based on my experience, it’s the coaching/teaching role that suffers.   

The role of teachers is to help students learn; like a coach, they provide a variety of support including that of instructing, assessing, mentoring, facilitating, advising, fact finding and many others. As part of the process, teachers test, diagnose and assess each student; the results are, or should be, used to plan new strategies to help learners; in school, all can win.

Referees, on the other hand, are involved with competitions, they enforce rules they use many of the same tools as teachers but they apply them for a different purpose; the referee’s role is to determine who wins, and there is only one winner in each game.  

Ranking and competition are part of life; students must learn to deal with them but schooling itself is not a competition.  And when the competition ends and the winner announced, teachers deal with the consequences for each player.

The solution may be to establish separate body, a qualification authority, to award credentials and qualifications. That’s the model used for students of music, and for apprentices. Why not for other subjects?  There is no doubt in my mind that an independent qualification authority would be fairer or students.

Comments from coaches and referees, whether or not they teach, are always welcome.

Don Glendenning,

A long-time student of education,


Geographic location: Charlottetown

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