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Teacher Favoritism

starbucks photo christian

Have you seen this type of favor? Photograph by Christian Raya.

Is Teacher Favoritism Inevitable?

By Christian Raya

Favoritism defined by Merriam-Webster's dictionary is, “The showing of special favor: Partially” Favor is also defined as, “Friendly regard shown toward another especially by a superior.” Now, putting the two together into teacher favoritism, an example of this is: if there is a teacher named, Ms. Johnson, and two kids, one named Bob and the other Billy. If Ms. Johnson were to receive poor work from Bob who is a star football player but excellent work from Billy, and then proceeds to give Bob the same or higher grade than Billy, this can count as teacher favoritism. Another example, mentioned on our campus, is a teacher buying a Starbucks for a student!

Favoritism as a Psychological Phenomenon  

   What is teacher favoritism, and what is a teacher's pet? Teacher favoritism can be defined as a teacher who favors or gives special treatment to a student. A teacher's pet is someone who has won the teacher’s favor and thus gets special treatment. While they are remarkably similar, there are very distinct differences between the two.

 Why is someone a teacher's pet? Could it possibly be since it has to do with the way we humans are wired? Sometimes it could be as simple as personal preference, however that also ties into how we perceive people as one person might like a certain person. But on the other hand, that person might not be likable by others.

   Teacher favoritism and the concept of being a teacher's pet have been subjects of interest for teachers, parents, and students. Taking a deeper look into these dynamics, it is essential to consider the psychological factors that are present. As Esmeralda Vasquez, the school psychologist for Greenfield High, points out, “Some students are favored if they are athletes. Teachers seem to be easier on them especially if they are a key player.” Some teachers may favor these students because they are “needed” on the team they play on. From a psychological standpoint, the student and the teacher both win; teachers or coaches get the students to play for the school, while the student gets a decent grade.

What Are the Pros and Cons with Teacher Favoritism

There is no benefit towards the teacher in both cases. To a student being favored by a teacher may seem “cool” or even has benefits towards the costly, for example getting good grades or having certain thing slide by because of being favored. However, this is not beneficial to the student at all, if anything it hurts them and others around them. Thinking that being favored by a teacher is “cool” because the teacher may buy them food or give them special treatment that would otherwise not be fair to others, hurts everyone. Being more lenient with a student for homework, or being late to class, or letting anything slide gives the teacher no benefit. The student being favored is hurt more than it seems.

    If a student gets to slack off on work and anything else, it almost empowers the student to think they are better. An English Teacher from GHS, Ms. Lazzaroni says, “We are taught to have a non-biased, non-judgmental, safe classroom for our students where we treat everyone as equals.” Slacking off on work also hurts the student academically. They are not learning and are not being educated properly, and it will end up hurting them in the future with schoolwork and other classes as well. Furthermore, when a student is allowed to slack off, it can create a negative atmosphere within the classroom, as other students may perceive it as unfair or unjust. This can lead to feelings of resentment and frustration among their peers. Additionally, slacking off on work sets a detrimental precedent for the student's future, as it teaches them that procrastination and a lack of effort are acceptable behaviors.

Is a Teacher Trusting a Student a Form of Favoritism?

Some teachers favor students more than others. However, most of them can still retain an unbiased attitude towards the whole class. An example can be a teacher trusting a student more than the rest. If a teacher needs to leave the classroom for a moment. They may ask a trusted student to watch over the class to make sure nothing bad happens while they are gone. This does not show favoritism as they are not favoring the student in giving them special treatment, they only trust this person more than the rest. Some students are not well trusted, while others are.

    In an ideal educational setting, teachers should be able to keep an unbiased attitude towards the students and the class. They should strive to treat everyone equally and fairly. Enrique Anguiano, a student at G.H.S. gives his opinion on how teacher favoritism can impact the overall classroom environment. “A teacher's character impacts the classroom regardless of if they have favoritism towards certain students. A teacher actively rewarding a slacker or someone that does not put in as much effort as the others will bring the moral and confidence of the other students down, because they will wonder if their merit is not enough or valued when it comes to their performance in a class.” The teacher controls and exemplifies the attitude in the class, trusting a student to watch over the class is an example of building a supportive classroom environment based on mutual respect and responsibility rather than favoritism. By fostering such an atmosphere, teachers can ensure that every student feels valued and respected, contributing to creating a more inclusive and unbiased learning environment.