Alexander Russo from This Week in Education (with his shingle now hanging at Scholastic), speculates on why no one trusts teachers.

Teachers that I talk to and read about consistently chafe at how little trust they are given — by parents, administrators, policymakers, etc. It’s understandably frustrating for them. But this New York Times article (about car mechanics, of all things) goes a long way to explaining the dynamic, which economists apparently call the “expert service” problem (When Trust in an Expert Is Unwise). In short, when the person you go to for expertise on a complex issue (say, education) is the SAME person that will provide the service, there’s a (perceived) conflict of interest that makes non-experts wary about the diagnosis being offered. It’s not that teachers aren’t trustworthy or knowledgeable, but rather that they should understood how hard it is for non-educators to take what they’re saying as gospel.

Interesting thesis.

But it probably also goes hand in hand with the old idea that almost everyone has spent twelve years on the other side of the desk watching teachers work.

The good ones make it look easy. The bad ones initiate the I-could-do-that-better attitude. And that’s sometimes true of other professionals we meet.

However, most people don’t have nearly as much direct contact with any other profession – doctor, lawyer, car mechanic – unless they are very, very unfortunate.

teachers, trust, expert