Education As Customer Service

So I've received my first complaint of the new term. Evidently now announcing deadlines in class and on the assignment and actually enforcing them is seen as unfair.

What was most amusing about the complaint, though, was the student's not-so-implied threat that if I was going to continue to have deadlines and, you know, actually enforce them, that my course might not be the ideal course for them. And I quote:
if this semester is going to be like this i dont
think i can take this class. i have lacrosse 90 percent of my time this
semester and i only have the time to do things like homework when they
fit into this schedule i have decided for myself
When I worked in banking this was my favorite threat from customers: if you're going to charge me for bouncing my check, I'm going to take my money and run. And just like most of those banking customers, when I'd offer to mail them the check for their remaining funds, this student quickly rethought the decision.

Here's the thing about this customer service metaphor that I see missed - usually by students, sometimes by faculty (think about your last Senate meeting), and all too often by staff and administrators: it doesn't mean there shouldn't be standards. And it doesn't mean that students or their parents get to set those standards.

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bitternsweet said...

That student is un-freaking-believable!

Although everyone always cites the "customer is always right" mantra of customer service when making this analogy -- they fail to acknowledge that very few areas of American capitalism still employs this idea. As far as I can tell, "customer service" translates these days to: "providing the least costly service/goods we can get away with at the highest price we can get away with." There is no sense of courting, placating, or spoiling the consumer (when was the last time that happened?). So, yeah, in a way education is following this same less-for-more model.

January 27, 2009 at 8:27 AM