We’ve all had at least one great teacher and some not so good ones. Bad teachers should be dealt with, not tolerated

 

The British university system differs from the Spanish one; it is not better or worse but simply different.

Broadly speaking, the teaching practise in Britain consists of two kinds of classes: lectures and seminars. This distinction though is harder to establish in most of the Arts and Humanities degrees in Spain. The Spanish approach to teaching differs and tends to place more importance on contact hours, whereas British universities emphasise independent study. Despite these differences, I can state with certainty that in both cases I have been lucky enough to have met well-prepared teachers that have been up to the institutions they work for.

Teachers who do well in their job and professionals who value their work, pass that enthusiasm on to their students. Being competent is a characteristic that proves to be instrumental in whatever aim you are striving to achieve. But we have to be honest, not everyone shows the same degree of commitment in their work and this should be understood and accepted. Notwithstanding, this lack of commitment ceases to be reasonable when such conduct may have a negative effect on third parties. In this light, most people would agree that being diligent turns out to be almost a golden rule when it comes to teaching, largely because of its social consequences.

Good teachers have a lot of influence over their students’ lives and indeed, I am writing this article in English rather than Spanish largely thanks to some dedicated English teachers I had. This article then speaks for them; it proves that they did a good job.

However, I am sure that many students must have dealt throughout their years at university with at least one teacher for whom education is no longer the thing he/she is passionate about. With this in mind, I feel the urge to share an awful situation that my college and I had to cope with at my home university (and when I returned the teacher in question was still there).

On the 4th of June, a group of second-year students taking English philology at the University of Zaragoza were about to sit their Grammar II exam. The atmosphere was weird, they sat on benches right in front of the classroom waiting for some unknown teachers. Nervousness mixed with some spontaneous laughter and there was a shared feeling that things had not been done properly that semester. You could see it on their faces. But now, before the board of examiners appointed to grade them, they had to pretend that everything was fine and show that, thanks to their teacher’s irreproachable commitment, they have attained the requirements needed to pass the subject. But they did not. In fact, they were not prepared. Five months earlier, when the spring term had just started, these students knew that they would in all likelihood be heading towards a disastrous (but not surprising) outcome. They had already been in that kind of situation during their first year at university when once again, the unquestionable labour of the same teacher put them on the spot.

I utterly refuse to take the view that life is cyclic in nature, that it is all about going back and forth and other such far-fetched theories. It was known that it would happen again. Everybody knew. It was an open secret. Yet no one stood up in time to address the issue appropriately. Instead, people opted towards the ‘fast and easy’ solution that did not do any good to the university. Meanwhile, it is the students who bare the brunt of all this since they keep spending money on a module that is not up to the standard. They pay for watching blackboards that would fit better in a Cubist art gallery; they pay for adding six valueless credits to their academic record. They will pay for a number, nothing else.

Cases like the aforementioned devalue the English Philology degree at a rapid rate and not only cause harm to students but also to committed teachers.

In my two years as a university student, most professors have shown that they are worthy of being where they are. I do not give names because the ones who are committed know that they are doing their job properly, and vice versa.