Students as customers? Depends on what a customer is today
Don has been discussing the notion of parents and, separately, of children as being 'customers' of the education system. It's a fascinating debate that I've had with in my mind when I was teaching, with no clear cut answers, but I think the original notion of customer is maybe out of date in the scenario, something Don's latest comment begins to take into account.
One thing came into my mind, though, after reading Krysia's comment asking whether students would be comfortable seeing themselves as customers. It got me thinking about participation culture and the fact that, for the world's most successful companies, there are no customers any more thanks to wide-reaching technology that turns former customers into collaborators. We don't consume so much as co-create now. Even Dell, shamed two years ago in Jeff Jarvis' Dell Hell episode for not listening to customers, now co-create their computers with their 'customers'.
So maybe we need to reframe the notion of 'customer' into its 2007 sense. We might want to really start seeing students co-creating curriculum, lesson plans and learning in their schools.
But also, as Jenkins' definition of our teens' Participation Culture points out, our young 'customers', when in that role, have the option not only to participate in interest and learning groups, but to leave them when they stop being relevant or engaging.
Are schools ready to see students taking their leave when they stop to engage? After all, that's what our 'student customers' would have the statutory right to do.