On march the 4th, I attended the Student Faculty partnership workshop from 10 am till 12 pm. The workshop aim was to discuss the possibility of students contributing – with faculty members- to make academic decisions. The questions discussed regarding this topic includes whether it’s for the student best interest to have an equal role in the decision making process, if the students knowledge are enough to help them decide, what are the limitations of applying this, and what are the pros and cons of this partnership between students and faculty.
We were asked to divide ourselves and sit on different tables alongside with faculty members. All students and faculty members on each table were asked to answer questions and then discuss the answers to these questions together. One of the questions we were asked was, what three things we could do to make positive impact on our education system, and my answer to this question was, first the instructors must know the students inside their classroom better in order to respect their needs; for example if a non Egyptian student was there, the instructor must not speak in Arabic nor use certain anecdotes that would made him feel like an outsider and warn the students not to do so also. My Second answer was to make the material more practical and engaging, which, in my opinion, is something each instructor must do if he wants to make his students be more attentive. Giving assignments that are not just about memorizing and that students would find enjoyable, watching a movie that explains the material better, or even try to make the students prepare their own lectures on the course topics ( without grading ), are some examples that instructors could do to make the students like the courses more. My last answer was to never lose hope on a student, for instance, when a student gets low grades on assignments or tests, he believes that his professor would think of him as a failure, which could affect his self esteem and the way he sees himself. That is why I think it is important that professors teach their students that grades do not define who they are and a bad grade explains only a shortage of knowledge.
The next activity we were asked to do was for all of us as a table to discuss our point of views on the equal partnership. I was the moderator of the discussion- even though I loudly said that I didn’t want to be- so my role was to keep the discussion going while taking notes on it. On our table we had three professors each from different departments and four other students from my class and we all discussed different points on how we see the current system and what we think should change. Our table agreed on most of the points discussed, for instance, we agreed that the students should have limited authorities if this partnership was applied, we also agreed that grades are not the best way to assess the students, but at the same time we didn’t find a better substitute. The only thing we had a disagreement on was the attendance and coming late part for example, one of the professors considered that coming was unacceptable even though she doesn’t take attendance. Students on the table had a very different point of view, they saw that a person who came late is a person that wanted to be there and should be given the chance to be there and not be punished for it. I personally couldn’t agree more, because I happen to come late to everything I attend ( not only academic events) , but this doesn’t necessarily mean that I am not responsible or that I don’t want to be there.
At the end I would like to say that I was glad we had the chance to participate in this workshop and I wish to see more workshops that provide a safe place to both the faculty members and the students to speak freely. I also wish that we could have the chance to have more students and faculty members attend those discussions, and I think this could be the step we need as students to trust the faculty more, especially because some of the previous discussions I attended ( on the tuition increase for example) were less democratic and students’ opinions were not considered important.