Are Titles Necessary in Modern Day Schools?

Is respect earned simply by age and profession? Do honourifics and arbitrary titles create an unnatural sense of superiority, or are they truly required to create a healthy environment for learning? Should they remain in the modern times, or are they advocating authoritarianism in a place where the youth should be learning to make their own decisions?

Students address their teachers in differing manners across the globe and the language which they employ directly relates to the atmosphere of the classroom, as well as their relationship with their teachers. While in some places, teachers are addressed by titles such as ‘Mr.’ and ‘Ms.’, followed by their last names, in Finland and Spain teachers are called by their first names, or even nicknames. While some societies embrace informality, others believe that it is a sign of disrespect. This does raise the questions of whether it is healthy to enforce respect through language, and whether it is abnormal to be obligated to show respect to certain people, prior to even interacting with them.

Moreover, if the titles which we employ aren’t solely serving to imply respect and are actually to create a sense of discipline, we are left to question the validity of that discipline, which is created through titles rather than actions. However, it could also be argued that titles exist in order to create an academic atmosphere and a sense of formality, but once again, the nature of this atmosphere would be questionable as teachers and students should be able to establish this without honourifics.

Although it is undeniable that being on a first name basis with teachers would blur the boundaries, this may also be a positive as it would promote the idea of equality and remove intimidation within a classroom. Perhaps they would enable us to have more insightful debates and conversations, whilst also encouraging students to speak their minds and ask the questions that they need to ask. It may be instrumental in raising confident and outspoken individuals.

Additionally, honourifics tend to be marital and gender specific. Therefore, they would be invaluable with teachers who identify as non-binary, and in the modern times which we live in, it may be wrong to change the title of a female teacher, based on her marital status.

Overall, addressing teachers by honourifics does create a sense of formality and it may be valuable in many cultures, however honourifics also imposes respect, which could establish an atmosphere of inequality and intimidation. Therefore, perhaps, the absence of titles may just be more fit for our modern society.