“I have to jump from the top floor!”, a response to a knowledge gap from a final year student. As I started observing the interaction between teachers and students, I found many instances of sarcasm and belittlement. I reflected on myself if I also did the same. From then, I strived to find responses that did not have any negative tone or attitude that can affect student esteem and learning.

Internet provides a lot of examples and some even justifying humiliation and belittlement as a good means to discipline or help students learn. My student days were also littered with such instances that I did not seem to be out of place. A Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA) standard in US requires that dental schools commit to establishing a “humanistic culture and learning environment”, free of humiliation and belittlement. However, a survey in a US dental school showed prevalence of such practices in preclinical and clinical learning environments. Another study in Nigeria showed that public humiliation or belittlement was experienced in 87.4% of the student respondents.

Why do teachers belittle their learners? Scott et al, following a study reports few reasons. Teaching by humiliation has been a tradition and hence normalized. The present-day teachers experienced humiliation as learners without realising the negativeness. Lack of teaching expertise and appropriate training is seen as another reason. The teachers, experts in their medical/professional knowledge, are not adept in managing learners in their learning environment.

What can institutions, teachers and students do to handle teaching by humiliation? All the stakeholders should be aware of safe learning environments. Teachers should be trained and be experts in education and best learning practices. “Me too” movement should be present to support students subjected to humiliation. Institution should update the mistreatment policies to include humiliation in teaching and learning environments.

Have you experienced humiliation in the learning environments?

I write blogs on Academic Coaching, topics that empower students in their learning journey. If you want to subscribe to email alerts for new content, click here. All blog posts available here.



Note on Comments: If you don’t want to share your details, use Name as Anonymous and email address as [email protected]. All comments will be moderated. Logging is not required to comment.