Can a teacher fail you, if they don’t like you?


This is a question that has being bothering me. I am in my third year of university, and I am being plagued by this general notion that the teachers control whether a person either passes or fails the course they are doing. Of course, this is the same fate of all students, but that is under stereotypically natural circumstances, where they pass if they do the work and fail if they don’t. What I am discussing here, is whether a teacher’s opinion of you can cloud their judgment. So they pick up a piece and say ‘Oh, Joe Blow did this – right, fail!’

I began to think such thoughts after I was handed back my corrected work from one of my many subjects (of which I will not mention). Now, I was told that all of the information that was required of me was accurate and well established, and that I had conducted all of the necessary research to successfully gain a high mark. The problem was that I did not gain a high mark. No. In fact, I didn’t even pass. I failed the assessment task! How? Well, that is where everything becomes quite hazy and skeptical.

I was told by my teacher that I was unable to write proper English. This however was the first time I had ever been told this in my entire life. Now, I did not write this blog post to bitch about how I wish I had gained that higher mark. I mean to talk about how the judgment of that teacher has being brought into question. She asked us, all of us, after marking our work to resubmit if we were unhappy with the mark we obtained so that she could re-correct our work once we had applied the corrections she had mentioned during her critical assessment of the task. Now, you can bet that I was one of those people who resubmitted. Actually, I was one of the few. In fact, there were only two people who did resubmit; a young woman in her mid thirties, and myself. This only further makes me wonder; did everyone else gain high marks? Is that why they could not be bothered resubmitting their work? Or could they not be bothered being told again, like I was, how horrific their writing styles were?

Well, long story short. The teacher corrected my work, right in front of me too. It took around forty odd minutes to go through all of the pages (I always wondered how long it took to mark an assessment, and now I know. Imagine trying to mark a cool hundred of ‘em. Makes me wonder why people become teachers at all. Probably has something to do with the economic compensation they receive). Anyway, in the end what was my mark? It was the same one I was given before! IT DID NOT F_ _ _ _ _ _ CHANGE! I was told, to my face this time, that yes, the information was all there but it was not written properly!

Now, I could have asked for my work to be corrected by another teacher. There is one addendum however to that plan. It can only be corrected by a teacher who is involved in that course. And the teacher I have is not only the course coordinator, but the only teacher in all the university teaching it!

Now, I have had this teacher before, during my first year. She was my lecturer then, not my tutor, but she also happened to be the teacher marking my end of year test. She took a dislike to me in the lecture straight away, saying on a couple occasions how I did not speak much during the lecture. There was an entire room of people she could ask, and she turns to me? I felt like saying DO I LOOK LIKE I KNOW WHAT THE HELL YOU ARE TALKING ABOUT? YOU ARE THE TUTOR! YOU HAVE ALL THE INFORMATION! YOU ARE MEANT TO TEACH US! NOT THE OTHER WAY AROUND!

At least I passed that course. It does not look like I am going to be so lucky this time around. I am just filled with wonder, for I am doing exceptionally well in all of my other courses. I am being credited for my writing style and being told by the tutors in fact that I am quite good at writing. But in this one class I am told the complete opposite. Who am I to believe? The other sixteen odd tutors I have had in my time at the university, who have all passed me with flying colours? Or the one teacher who seems intent on flunking me? I guess the end question is; can a teacher fail you if they don’t like you?


4 comments on “Can a teacher fail you, if they don’t like you?

  1. In a word, yes. I have been in both positions – having a lecturer not like me and fail my essay (first and only one ever) and now I am a lecturer/tutor at uni.
    The comments I got for the failed essay were “you failed because you didn’t reach the pass criteria”. Well duh. Luckily for me though, I had another teacher mark the second assignment and I got a HD :-S
    As for teaching. Let me be honest. The more you like a student, the more likely they are to receive higher marks. The less you like a student, the more likely you are to mark harder. However, despite this, if the content is there then you have to give them the deserved mark. It isn’t fair marking. You try to keep an unbiased opinion in place, but it’s bound to happen.
    I think you are in a horrible position where your teacher is your course coordinator. My advice would be to approach Head of School. I don’t know how successful you will be (teachers tend to side with one another), but there’s really nothing to lose. Before that, maybe you could get another teacher to just have a look over it (not mark it, but see if the comments were fair).
    Good luck!

    • Thanks for the advice and for the assistance! It’s also good to now know for a FACT that teachers CAN favor certain students over others. I know, we’ve all seen it happen, but never do teachers openly admit it, and I guess it is good that a teacher such as yourself is openly talking about it occuring. At least I now know I’m not paranoid!

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