The “Business” of Learning

You often hear an extended metaphor between education and business. In this metaphor, teaching is “instructional delivery” and students are “customers.”

Please, please, please stop using this metaphor.

Students aren’t customers. They are children, they are human beings, they are dreamers, learners, individuals. They are and Ellie and Emilee and Michael and Maddie and Matthew and…

If you see customers when you look at students, you are profoundly diminishing the role of teacher, of school, of principal.


Do this: imagine a doctor referring to her customer instead of her patient. Does it make you want to have this doctor operate on you? Words matter.

Teaching is a profoundly important mission, and every person who works in education, from the janitor to the superintendent, would do well to remember that the students they work to educate are far more than just customers.