Students On Teacher Interview Panels?

As a Dean of Education forty years ago, I asked college students to sit in on interviews with prospective college faculty and as a high school teacher I felt no problem in having students providing their ideas concerning teachers. There is a growing trend in the United Kingdom for students to sit in on interview panels and rate candidates. This is not an issue of student rights anymore than it is of parent rights, but teachers must be evaluated by those who understand the teaching profession. Obviously, patients provide input into the success of a doctor’s performance in treating their illness, but I doubt if anyone wants patients to determine who is hired as a surgeon.

The perspective of a child is short term, if not just immediate. They lack a comprehensive understanding of the nature of teaching nor do they understand the complexity of creating effective lesson plans that stimulate critical and creative thinking. On one interview panel, a student noted a prospective candidate “looked like Humpty Dumpty” while in another a candidate refused to comply with a request to sing his favorite song. In another a candidate who had completed student teaching discovered she was being interviewed by a student she had once reprimanded.

Students should provide “advice” and their comments should be part of an evaluation, but those who understand education must make ultimate decisions. Allowing students to make teacher decisions is akin to allowing politicians to make those decisions.