The power of the experts

I wondered in my last post whether I should be humble or haughty as a teacher of English; I mean, be aware that my learners have many other points on their agenda, or be proud of doing a job that is so important to my learners?

This brings me to the incredible haughtiness of some teachers and examiners. To their firm and deeply-rooted belief that they possess the ultimate answers and the ultimate verdicts. Here are some examples.

A teacher gives marks and feedback according to no scale or criteria, or doesn’t make their scale or criteria transparent to the learners. In this way their evaluations are – or seem – unpredictable, whimsical, based on mood or on the teacher’s own preferences. This is a mark of haughtiness.

A teacher is the only one that gives marks or feedback in the class. In this way they establish their role as fountain of knowledge and sole authority capable of making evaluations at all. It’s another face of arrogance.

A teacher follows no specific coursebook or syllabus, but brings up in the classroom topics that have inspired them that day. In this way they are the only one in control of what the students are supposed to learn. And it’s one more proof of arrogance.

A teacher uses mostly materials and brings up topics that are too advanced for the students – or has the students do tasks that are always demanding. In this way the teacher shows their learners how much they still have to learn to get to their teacher’s level of competence. And it sure is a sign of self-infatuation.

A teacher keeps using their specialist vocabulary – passive voice, subjunctive mood, past perfect continuous, conditional three, upper intermediate level etc. In this way they make it clear, you don’t belong to their circle, and you’d better start learning a few basic things if you want to talk to them. And o, isn’t that the essence of haughtiness?

A teacher makes fun of the students who make mistakes and sarcastically recommend what they should read or study to become competent. In this way all the other positive things the learners have achieved are erased and the teacher is comfortably restored as the mini-god in the classroom. Which is just what I mean by “the power of experts”.

If we look around, all experts are proud of their competence: teachers, lawyers, doctors, artists, critics, economists and so on. They all more or less need to show it off and shut the “outsiders” out. To pretend there is nothing as important as their domain. The real experts, however, know they are competent and can live with the fact that their domain is not the only one.

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