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Teaching your dates???
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Harry Swindells



Joined: 15 Jan 2003
Posts: 39
Location: Warsaw,Poland

PostPosted: Fri Feb 14, 2003 12:25 pm    Post subject: Teaching your dates??? Reply with quote

It seems to be a widely held belief here that it is utterly unethical to date your students. If it is unethical to date your students doesn't the reverse also hold? Is it unethical to teach your dates?

I was working at a university here a few years ago, got introduced to a rather nice young lady (a little older than me), started a relationship with her. She then decided to go back to university (she had done 3 and a hlf of the 5 years needed and then dropped out) and ended up in one of my classes.

So what should I have done in that situation? Should I have ended the relationship with her and thus created a bad atmosphere in the classroom? Should I have refused to let her in my class (just as bad as giving a higher mark to a student solely because you are dating them)? Should I have requested a change of classes (not exactly professional)?

If it is always black and white about dating students (ie it is always bad to date your students) then surely it is white and black about teaching your dates?

Harry
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taiwan boy



Joined: 11 Feb 2003
Posts: 99
Location: China

PostPosted: Sat Feb 15, 2003 2:33 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

If you were serious about the relationship then there would have been no need to have ended it. The appropriate thing to do would have been to inform your superiors about the situation. That way if there were any problems they would have understood and any embarrassing situations could have been avoided.
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omar805



Joined: 18 Jan 2003
Posts: 69
Location: Thailand

PostPosted: Sat Feb 15, 2003 3:25 am    Post subject: Teacher's pet! Reply with quote

Harry
I'm sure that your experience would make a great movie starring Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan!
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Scott in HK



Joined: 11 Jan 2003
Posts: 148

PostPosted: Sat Feb 15, 2003 3:31 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Harry,

I would say that it is still black and white. There shouldn't be anyone in your class that you are having a relationship with, if you can help it. So, in the first place she shouldn't have chosen a class you were teaching. Next, if she has to be in your class (it is the only one available and she needs) then you should inform your head of department and let them make the decision. Now if the school allow it, then it is I would think that it becomes better. The adminstration is happy, but are the other students?

Why would understanding there might be problems and asking for a change of class be unprofessional?

Why is refusing her permission to be in your class as bad as giving her a high mark?


Last edited by Scott in HK on Tue Feb 18, 2003 9:22 am; edited 1 time in total
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Roger



Joined: 19 Jan 2003
Posts: 9138

PostPosted: Sat Feb 15, 2003 2:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sometimes, having a brush with a drama unfolding before your own eyes may set your mind more rigidly!
It happened in a student house. It was not a boarding-house, rather, it was a house with single rooms and communal bathroom and kitchens for the convenience of a student population that frequented an university and several colleges.
She was a teacher turned student of I forgot what subject, and she was deeply, but really deeply, in love with someone. One day, I overheard her cry into a telephone "but we have always been a happy couple..."
A few days later, she developed a most conspicuous habit - first, someone complained his wine had been stolen, then another person found her bottle of gin empty; beer was missing here, and stronger booze was missing somewhere else. The teacher-turned student could be seen tottering down the hallway, disappear into her room and was soon heard retching.
In just one week, she had become a heavy boozer, vegetating in her room and neglecting her studies!
Within three months, she had to be moved to a psychiatric clinic.
She was released a few months later, but she began drinking again!
Finally, her parents took her home.
About one year on, I thought I should try to find out what had become of her. Her brother answered the phone. In a totally impassive voice, he informed me she was "dead" - suicide!

No, the man that had deserted her was no teacher. That she was a student is, perhaps, just peripheral. Nevertheless, this was a defining experience for me. I was just about twenty myself! Just imagine: one of your own students act in this way? COuld you face her peers? Her family? Authorities? Yourself in the mirror ...?
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J.B. Clamence



Joined: 16 Jan 2003
Posts: 25

PostPosted: Sat Feb 15, 2003 11:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Harry, I think the unethical nature of dating one of your students is based on the idea of meeting someone who is your student and beginning a relationship with them while they are in your class. I don't think it applies to someone whom you started dating before they came to your school. I don't see any big preoblem there.
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TaoyuanSteve



Joined: 05 Feb 2003
Posts: 1028
Location: Taoyuan

PostPosted: Sun Feb 16, 2003 1:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think dating students in adult, informal teaching environments is acceptable. If you are teaching adults in a non-competitive ( ie. no grades, therefore no perceived advantage/bias) environment, then why not? One should never abuse positions of power over children or create impressions of 'sleep with teacher to get grades.' But there is no power dynamic in an adult language school class. In an environment of equals, people should be able to teach their dates or date their students as long as everything is consentual.
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Ann



Joined: 02 Feb 2003
Posts: 45

PostPosted: Sun Feb 16, 2003 1:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
But there is no power dynamic in an adult language school class.

HA!
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Harry Swindells



Joined: 15 Jan 2003
Posts: 39
Location: Warsaw,Poland

PostPosted: Sun Feb 16, 2003 1:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Scott in HK wrote:
Harry,

I would say that it is still black and white. There shouldn't be anyone in your class that you are having a relationship with, if you can help it. So, in the first place she shouldn't have chosen a class you were teaching. Next, if she has to be in your class (it is the only one available and she needs) then you should inform your head of department and let them make the decision. Now if the school allow it, then it is I would think that it becomes better. The adminstration is happy, but are the other students?

Why would understanding their might be problems and asking for a change of class be unprofessional?

Why is refusing her permission to be in your class as bad as giving her a high mark?


As far as the university was concerned it was no problem. A lot of the staff were married to people who used to be their students.

She didn't choose my class. There was only one class being run. She needed to take it as it was required for her degree. I was the teacher. I was the only teacher qualified to take that class. Requesting a change of classes (so that an unqualifed teacher took the class) would have been unprofessional because I would have allowed my personal life to have a negative effect on the education of the students.

It is wrong to treat a student differently because you are having a relationship with them. That means it is wrong to give them a better grade than they deserve. Or a worse grade than they deserve. She had completed everything that she needed to get into my class. Refusing to accept her into the class would have been treating her differently from other students only because she and I were having a relationship.

Harry

I note that even you don't define it as black and white. You add the caveat "if you can help it". That by itself introduces an element of gray!
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Scott in HK



Joined: 11 Jan 2003
Posts: 148

PostPosted: Mon Feb 17, 2003 9:38 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Harry...I would say that the black white still holds with the idea of "if you can help it'.

You need to inform the head of department. If they agree, then I think you have to inform the class you are teaching. I think they should be aware of the relationship between a teacher and any student. It is not a decision that you the teacher should make...it should be left to the people above you. Once someone else makes the decision, I think you have done all that you can. Even then I think it might cause problems.

Of course it is wrong to treat a student differently; but not allowing someone in your class because it might cause a disruption or because your relationship could cause you to treat a student differently is not the same thing as giving a student a higher mark. In the first you are simply taking a precaution. Having your wife in class could cause serious problems and undermine the learning of the rest of the class.

What happens when you catch her in bed with an undergrad? Do you teach the next day? Or you know that she is an alcoholic. Do you let work slide? Do you give her extra help at home when she asks for it? Do you practice blind marking? How can you be sure you won't give her a better mark the day after you have make up sex?

The reason dating students is wrong...black and white wrong....is that it brings into play so many different variables. The power of love can often destroy common sense.

None of this may ever happen but it could...and for that reason I would say it is wrong to have someone you have a relationship with in your class.

It is easy if there is no prior relationship. You can 'just say no'. It is really easy. With a prior relationship, every effort needs to be made. But I understand that there are situations where nothing can be done. Even in those, I would say that it is potentially unfair to your other students.
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Paul G



Joined: 16 Jan 2003
Posts: 125
Location: China & USA

PostPosted: Mon Feb 17, 2003 3:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Scott:

Under the conditions that Harry has described, let's say that his girlfriend does get an "A" instead of the "B" she actually earned. How have the other students been cheated or harmed?

As long as the other students receive the grades that they earned, no harm has come to them.

There are a lot of factors that come into play when assigning grades. To claim that all grading is 100% objective is absurd. The student who always comes to class, behaves, participates and strives to do their best is going to get an upward attitude adjustment in their grade and the student who constantly disrupts a class is going to get a downward attitude adjustment.
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Brenda



Joined: 13 Feb 2003
Posts: 48
Location: Montreal, Canada

PostPosted: Mon Feb 17, 2003 5:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I agree with Paul... While dating your student can affect your judgement with grading, so can simple favoritism. What if you say "no" to dating them only you end up still grading them based on flattery or mutual attraction.

I agree that dating your students is wrong yet at times unavoidable for some. This is why I think that if a teacher crosses that line that measures should be discussed and taken so that your student learns with another teacher.

It's not the solution to everything but at least takes a step closer to professionalism.
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Deborah



Joined: 14 Feb 2003
Posts: 19

PostPosted: Mon Feb 17, 2003 7:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

What's a true definition of "bias?"
I'm teaching in a University and recently completed an intensive course. I had 150 + students in 10 groups. This was a writing course, and the teachers carefully traded papers for marking so that none of us was marking papers from our own groups, to avoid bias. No problems.
But in the re-sit, I ended up marking papers from at least two of my students whom I remembered (a bit of a feat, under the circumstances). One of them I remember had very weak English and was on the verge of being a real pain in the class with her millions of questions. But I KNOW she works hard and wants to do well. I gave her a passing mark (barely) but if I had not known her......honestly, I'm not so sure.
Ok, most of us are NOT teaching in a University situation where the mark on a paper really makes a difference in someone's scholastic career. But I know that it's difficult to impossible (at least for me) to be 100% objective in marking - and if I were dating a student I honestly believe for me it would be impossible to view the work of that student objectively.
If you're not teaching in a situation where marks are truly important, no major problem. But if the objectivity is a part of your job requirement, my opinion is that you shouldn't do it.
P.S. - this reminds me of the time that I resigned from a TEFL training institute because the trainers insisted on partying with trainees...........and more, in some cases. Definitely affected pass/failure rates on the course.
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Mariana



Joined: 03 Feb 2003
Posts: 26
Location: Bavaria

PostPosted: Mon Feb 17, 2003 7:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Do the female teachers ever get into the situation of dating their male students, or is it just the men? Just curious.
M.
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Brenda



Joined: 13 Feb 2003
Posts: 48
Location: Montreal, Canada

PostPosted: Mon Feb 17, 2003 8:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I dunno about that statistically, but I do think that women must guard their reputations far more than men do.
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