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I was talking to my friend’s little sister this morning, aged 17, about her experience in her current sixth form on the Isle of Wight. Above other things, what specifically stood out about her conversation, was her annoyance at her sixth form teachers who were becoming increasingly informal with their pupils.

tutorhubSixth form differs slightly from high/secondary school in your relationship with your teachers. In sixth form, you’re expected to behave like an adult, and maintain a more personal, adult-like relationship with your teachers, whereas in the lower-school, it is a lot more formal. However, does this “adult” relationship give room to unwanted informality? Is there a line of formality that should not be crossed by a student or teacher while still in school?

An incident my friend’s sister mentioned to me specifically, was when her music teacher had called her “autistic”after she asked a question about a film, prompting her music class to laugh at her. I don’t believe that his intention was to “bully” her, but to “joke” with her, however, in my opinion, this crossed a very important line of respect that both pupils and teachers should value and abide by within the classroom. Not only does calling a pupil “autistic” set a bad example for the rest of the class, in that name calling/labeling within school is okay, but also strongly reiterates the issue of informality within the classroom. In my opinion, a professional relationship should be maintained. Informal speech and behaviour, especially when used by teachers, is an excuse for rude or sloppy teaching behaviour. How does this behaviour reflect on the academic progress of students? What issues does this behaviour raise within the UK education system?

More importantly, what do you think? Is the increasing informality of teachers harmful, or just friendly? Should something be done to enforce a more formal environment? Do you think this behaviour can be related to poor academic progress?

2 Comments

2 Responses to “Informality in the classroom – Is it a good or bad thing?”

  1. Leela

    However informal a teacher maybe, it is wrong to be-little or humiliate a student publicly. A teacher is in a position of authority and should this power in a way that supports and motivates a student. Name-calling by teachers gives license to students to do the same and all of us know where this leads.

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    • Dorsa

      Although I agree with the fact that calling a student “autistic” raises concerns and is an extreme issue – it mocks those who are actually of that disorder – informality within a teacher-student relationship in sixth form is acceptable because these people have reached the most important stage in their life – before they get out into the real world – therefore having the opportunity to engage in casual conversations with your teachers aids you in your academic progress. I believe this because when you are discomforted while in social situations with a teacher, it reduces the chance of you having the confidence to enquire, therefore if you see a teacher as a “friend” you can stop having to worry about the formality of your appearance and allows the focal point of your brain to rest in your studies. However, I acknowledge that this comment will most likely cause controversy and is probably not what everyone else thinks, so please… I’d love to start up a debate so reply.

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