On “customers” in education
Saturday, 20 July 2013 by Bernd Jansons
According to the Online Oxford Dictionary, a customer is “a person who buys goods or services from a shop or business”. There is a growing and, in my opinion, disturbing trend in Western Government to refer to what traditionally has been a “student” as a “customer”. Clearly, this trend is about making education a “business”. Extrapolating from this, education is something someone has to buy. Incidentally, that something is tending more and more towards a “product” and less a “service” as education becomes obsessed with packaging the acquisition of skills and knowledge into consumable “apps”. The same can be said for health when “patients” become “customers”. This is totally misguided IMHO. In a modern society, people should not have to “buy” an education or “buy” access to health care. Sure, these services cost money, but that money should come from the collective stash called the public purse. What is civilized about only those people with money having access to education and health? Education and health should be free. Students should be students and patients should be patients, not “customers”. And, while we’re on definitions, in a democratic society, politicians are meant to be “servants”, not “masters”.