Taking Notes: Eye on Education – RateMyTeachers.ca for jr. and sr. high school students

Taking Notes: Eye on Education – RateMyTeachers.ca for jr. and sr. high school students

This column will focus on educational issues affecting post-secondary students. It will address a wide range of topics. Students are encouraged to submit suggestions and educational topics they are concerned about, or personal experiences with courses or university situations they feel other students should know about.

University students have been taking advantage of RateMyProfessors.ca (http://www.ratemyprofessors.ca/) to see what other students have to say about their professors, and now junior/high school students have the same option. RateMyTeachers.ca is quickly growing in popularity since starting two years ago. The site bills itself as a “forum for students to publicly expose ineffective teachers and praise stellar ones,” adding that, “for the passionless imposters who only call themselves teachers, this website is your worst enemy.”

Provincial and Federal teacher’s groups consider the site inappropriate, if not downright dangerous. The president of the Canadian Teachers’ Federation, Terry Price, complains that the ability of students to make anonymous comments can be “professionally and personally damaging,” a “virtual open season on teachers.” Some have suggested that schools should block access to RateMyTeachers.ca from their computer systems.

Certainly there are valid arguments – repeat votes from a single student with a pet peeve can skew results, false or unhelpful information can be submitted, teachers can rate each other unfairly, comments can be hurtful and harmful, and teachers who are disliked are often very good teachers nonetheless.

Are teachers justified in their fears? I think back to my elementary/junior/high school years and I certainly had plenty of indifferent or incompetent teachers, and the same is true of university studies. But I’m not convinced that such website ratings are really a fair indicator. Price poses a question that is well worth considering for users of RateMyTeachers.ca and RateMyProfessors.ca – “what would happen if teachers set up a website where they could anonymously and publicly comment on the behaviour of students?”

Students grade teachers on U.S. website: Union doesn’t like RateMyTeachers.ca. Edmonton Journal, November 8, 2003.