Sincronía Winter 2008

SOMETHING TO LEARN: a conflictive relationship among students and lecturers in tourism[1]


 Korstanje, Maximiliano


The present article is intended to narrate my own experiences and comments in teaching philosophy in tourism’s careers. In spite of the inevitable growth of tourism, ethical issues are not appropriately developed in this line of professions. In Buenos Aires, students like practitioners are concerned about ethics in tourism even though have no further reference about what it means. It is often assumed that tourism is related only to  journeys, hedonism, pleasure and trivial things, but student realize that a career in tourism comprises many other issues not taken into consideration. In such a context, this paper demonstrates the professional paradox not only explaining the conflicts between students and professors, but also resolves the ambivalent feeling experienced by students at the time of graduation. Along these lines, new practices and suggestions are inevitably needed in educative issues.


Key Words: Tourism – University – Professional paradox – Conflict.






Today, tourism is considered as a leading industry which attracts more and more students not only throughout the World but also in Buenos Aires (Argentina).  In this context, let me relate my own experience of teaching philosophy in careers related to tourism.  Most likely, according to  popular wisdom, tourism has been trivialized as a vehicle towards experiencing leisure, hedonism and relaxing quite aside from hard-work and scientific research.


It looks as though tourism has nothing more to do with scientific perspective than “happiness , relax or travels”. The election of a certain career has an emotive importance for applicants but sometimes it does not occur. If this is the case, many students will experience the last period of their studies as a traumatic matter. Indeed, hints to that effect prompted the present essay.


One day, I was called from a prestigious University whose name should remain in anonymity because of ethic issues. At that instance, I remember I had noticed in a preliminary interview by Chancellor that students have lacked respect from some lecturers; this statement was reinforced at time of speaking with my colleagues. The group at hand was close to be graduated as guides in tourism.  In addition, I received the appointment of lecturer in philosophy, ethics and deontology for two courses compound with 18 and 25 students respectively. 


In my first day at this University I have bolstered a dialogue with my colleagues meanwhile drinking a coffee. Once and once again, my colleagues emphasized about theirs students do not have any interests in studying neither participating in classroom. At that instance, I had any idea about the causes of this or if it was an surface manifestation of a much more deep-seated issue.


Initially, I supposed that lecturers (before to me) put their proper fears, feelings and frustration towards their students. Sincerely, not only I was fright to making a bad impression but also colleagues recommendations make truth. Preliminary, this appeared to be a serious challenger for me. Also, the following lines are fully based on my proper experience in this matter. Students and professors were at odds by an outright sentiment of enmity. One of them concentrated just few seconds to begging the class on staff room and claimed that students have no interest in course contents nor motivations in learning while students emphasized that lecturers did not spend time in motivating them.  Romina (female, 20 years old) was more than clear when confirmed “professors had any motives to teach, they earn low salaries and are obliged to teach in many institutions perhaps more than we can imagine, as much as they like to cover, less interesting became the fruits of that job; in other words all we are bored”. Afterwards this declaration, no matter to say that I had never seen anything like this before.  Even informal but not for that less deeper, the present paper is aimed at discussing the troublesome relationships between lecturers and students in argentine superior education.


Historical Background of Education and current issues

In his last chapter of Politeia, Aristotle from Stagira criticized the private education since it comprises a public issue that pertained to the heart of the city. In regard to these, education of citizens must be adapted to diverse constitutions. Nevertheless, as stoic philosopher, Aristotle was in favor of leisure as a maximum expression of education and deplored the instruction based on salaries. The work as well as leisure is necessary things, but the second would be always preferably to first. Like the games, the work should not occupy any time or site in youth’s instruction. (Aristotle, VIII, v. I-II, p. 301-303).


Anyway, once collapsed Rome and Hellenic world in Europe, education has been monopolized by Christian Church. Also, we are not mistaken at time of affirming University is a European invent. But things as medieval epoch have been progressed so much, and Paris by centuries XVIII and XIX placed at the center of scenario the figure of professor as the main authority in academic ethos. In consequence, “it is significant that the major competing idea of the period, the student-dominated university in Bologna in Italy, did not gain a major foothold in Europe, although it had some impact in Spain and later in Latin America. The University rapidly expanded to other parts of Europe – Oxford and Cambridge in England, Salamanca in Spain, Prague in Krakow in the Slavic areas, and a variety of institutions in Germany were established in the following century” (Altbach, 1992:40)


An experiment like this seemed to be a success and promptly has been adopted by political regimes. Sooner or later, Europeans imperialisms imposed universities in their colonies as a form of exporting academicians or scholars who were devoted to civilize to the savages. That way, Africa, India, America as well as Oceania or Southeast found in academic education a vehicle towards development, rationalization and civilization. By the rise of nationalisms and protestant reformations, Latin was replaced by national tongues as well as higher education institutes adopted local customs and traditions differentiating from others. Likewise, Salamanca took distance from Oxford and Harvard did the same in respecting to Cambridge.  Nevertheless, France was historically surprised yet by the 1793 revolution and all educational establishments were momentarily closed. Whatever the point may be, in Napoleonic regime, universities not only were restored but also flourished throughout France and Latin America. For the other hand, reformed German education focused major attention to research and doctoral degrees creating a hierarchy wherein scientific disciplines occupy the top of pyramid. After that explained process, university became in an institution present in all globe in Western and Eastern. As previously argument given, five continents promptly saw two kinds of educative institutions; traditional namely Oxford, Cambridge, Amsterdam, Salamanca, Madrid or Sorbonne and pheripherical´s ones. Under this circumstance Altbach argued “while the function of these institutions may differ from those of traditional universities, their basic organization, pattern of governance and ethos remain remarkably linked to the basic academic ideal” (Altbach, 1992:41). 


Evidently, Universities today monopolize the production and transmition of knowledge at the time is key in training human resources by means of efficiency and quality. The impact of this over third world still merits a deep-seated debate. A much more scholars are devoted to highlight the importance of higher education in our life; in fact United States adopted the professionalism culture in nineteenth century twofold: as a mechanism capable to generate social mobility and emancipation as well as a pathway to gain acceptance and social distinction. For that reason, Bledstein contends that “careerism, competition, the standardization of rules and the organization of hierarchies, the obsession with expansion and growth, professional seeking recognition and financial rewards for their efforts, administrators in the process of building Empires: basically both the values and arrangements within American University have changed little since 1900”. (Bledstein, 1978: 289)


But today, higher education encounters a crisis that is well-documented in the work how students learn compiled originally by Lambert and Mccombs. From their standpoint, it is difficult to determine if the problem lies in education or inside the society. “our view is that what has been called a crisis in education must be also viewed as a crisis in society. A national commitment to excellence in education is necessary because the more each capable it will be to educate its citizens, bringing even greater rewards. Fundamental shifts in education will occur only when there are shifts in how people think about education, including their fundamental assumptions, their attitudes, and their beliefs” (Lambert and Mccombs, 1998:2). Basically, authors believe that focus on educative problems need to respect student’s expectations and talents. Standard-based education does not suffice for improving the system. In general, an all-encompassed treatment based on professors, students and learners point of view are strongly suggested but it a difficult concept to grasp. ¿What does excellence in education mean?. ¿Is that a way to create imbalances and domination? Or ¿a form of intellectual emancipation?, if the society represents what I do not want to be, ¿is the education an instrument to become frustrated people?; anybody had thought what does happen whenever students had nothing to learn. These and other issues will be put under scrutiny in the following essay. 


A diverse body of researches cited by Frisby (1998:72-75) demonstrated that four principles appears to flow with the discussion about how youth learn. First at all, life is perceived as unfair. Learners have no control over the communities where they grow up and are disaggregated or prejudiced as a inferior group should more probability to develop a feeling of resentment than others. Second, individual skills may conditions ways and method of learning. From this turn of mind, from disadvantaged groups an outstanding personality can arise. In third case, life circumstances are not static and capable to be changed. Subject who are interested in better their proper conditions use education as a channel for social ascension. The fourth principle that Frisby has mentioned is the role played by educator in such a process. Needs of applicants or students not only should be taken into consideration but also should be considered the foundation of educative infrastructure. Truthfully, the probability to fail or obtain a degree in higher education is subject to a diversity of environment and social context aspects. Most likely, it explains the reasons as to why more innovative pedagogic procedures fail in some contexts and do not in others.


Of course, we learn under situations of certain stress whenever we come across with a problem that had a remote or impossible solution. Following the rational principles, we also seek and find all alternative pathways to resolve our problems and anguish disappears. As much as difficult that turns the better for knowledge. But this remark does not apply in all cases with a same exactitude. Despite all affordable methods in pedagogy, students and lecturers may not undo the tie and enter in an unabated dispute. Some scholars like Mentowski (1998) and Fanfani (2003) propose higher education goals, other like Bourdieu and Passeron (2003) suggest a policy-marker re-consideration to professionalize whole part of population. Whether education merits improvement I do not know but my turn of mind as philosopher and lecturer will change after this experience. In this new millennium, ¿Is the university close to collapse as institution?.


An interesting essay-review entitled The University at the end of last century written by A. Childress and A. G. Rud (2008) will try to respond that incognita. Taking their cue from Levine, authors stress that Industrial age altered the axis of education even liberal teaching. In consequence, three type of categories emerge namely differentiation, democratization and rationalization. The accessing to education in combination with technology advances had a huge significance for stratification in society. In united state, schooling and higher education should reach five criterion: 1) to be at the service of social good; 2) navigating the line of individual exploitation; 3) utilizing individual skills and talents; 4) encouraging liberal doctrine in economy, and 5) develop in students the reflection and discussion. Precisely, this last point had been debated last years in specialized literature.



History of education in Third World, as Gail Kelly argued, did not accompany financial and economy development. The expansion in education also has failed to democratize third world countries which were increasingly becoming governed by military regimes and dictatorships. For that reason, the hope that education permits a fairer wealth distribution have not echo in this part of America continent. “the equality of opportunity schools were supposed to provide was illusory. In most countries, the gap between rich and poor between rural and urban areas had widened” (Kelly, 1992: 16).


Under that context, it is not surprising that the profile of local and regional context and expectations over superior education needs from a multiple diagnosis and newer interpretative perspectives. In general, scholars are concerned in dealing with problematic of technology in the background of modern pedagogic necessities. Theoretically, these works valorize the reflection of real professional practices and experience in the field of teaching.


Echoing to this, Juan Orellana explains us education grants for people an appropriate involvement as well as an environment’s adaptation.  Today mass media and information have revolutionized the way of perceiving and transmitting the proper experiences. That way, even though visual communication seeks novelty in all their dimensions but concept of creation is based on the daily search for practical experiences and examination. Most likely, humankind is plenty of doubts that lead them to transform the environment alternating technology with new sensations. Basically, knowledge and investigation are natural proofs of curiosity on the heart of whole civilizations. Philosophically, the search of human’s development allows them a synthesis between reason and praxis; and that is the main reason as to why we  learn.


In accordance to Orellana, Pereyra Maria Laura analyzes a genesis of professor-student liaison by examining a film entitled la lengua de las Mariposas. Based on conductism as frame-work, Pereyra argues that knowledge is an issue continuously elaborated internally thru the experience with others. Learning process is transformed by new experiences incorporating a reflexive interaction with environment. The importance of learning is not related at contain what we teach but the necessary channels used for that end. Under that context, the film in question narrates history of a child 8 years old who lives in a Galicia, Spain (contextualized roughly in 1936) wherein all reform advances in regards to education was reversed returning to an epoch of shadows.  


From her point of view, Maria Laura Pereyra assesses this film noting that students did enter at schools with a previous phenomenological background in experiences and traditions which sometimes do not match with educative institution’s rules or procedures. In combination with two antagonist streams (theories) in education like constructivism and conductism, Pereyra realizes that student and teacher’s encounter encourages a reflexive dialogue to create a bridge between ideas and experiences. Quite aside from this point, school should be converted in a privileged site where professors intend to wake up student’s fascination for knowledge. However, that is surface manifestation of a much more deep-seated issue. Sometimes, students lack interest in formal education due to many reasons namely fears of assessments, drugs abuses, criminal issues or a poor skill in writing, lacking of interests in reading literature as well as a-critical overview over political topics.


As a result of this, it is an interesting contribution the article written by M. Rosa Rago aimed at promoting in students a critical glimpse in the mid of a convulsioned world.  The author contends that sometimes teachers are obliged to adapt the previous student’s knowledge to the scope of superior education. The objective of University is to offer to students the likelihood to participate in the construction of their proper pathway towards professional insertion; if this happens the curricula should be accompanied by a critical overview. One of the main problems that current education has unresolved is that students are unable to analyze and critizes which part of knowledge may be incorporated and may not. That way, the planning of syllabus is of vital importance at time of giving students necessary weapons for a potential practitioner performance. Different essays in conjunction with a direct involvement will give as result more interest and motivation in the process of learning.


In other study emphasized on relationship between professor and students, Olivera-Silva recommends a reconsideration of communication in the schooling’s sphere. In last recent years, educative institutions attracted people with much more variety of ethnic and classes. All these youth encounter each other in a site wherein things have not changed significativelly from past century. As a result of this, the interest in learning have been slumped in comparison with other decades. The pedagogic agreement appears to be at risk. The underlying issue that author proposes to reconstructing the teacher’s authority at classroom by means of involvement and empowerment techniques (Silva-Oliveira, 2008).   


In addition, like problems wake up questions, also doubts are vital for the formulation of answers. In writing an essay, student not only is forced into interpreting a specific reality but also merge its own experience with new solutions. In such a process students should be guided by a professor who would work as a facilitator and not as a leader. The principle of authority at schools or University should encourage the scholar’s curiosity for knowing. Informality in classroom might be alternated by a hard planning in the appliance of ends and methods.  For Rago, the writing assessments merges ideas with practices permitting to students a new synthesis whereon a critical posture is based. In order for avoiding the frustration to be disapproved, the way we use to assess students merits a substantial change. New times need alternative form of evaluations.


Analogically for other writer, Monica Toyos is devoted to highlight about recurrent fears a student feel at time of facing exams alongside their career.  Taking her cue from the necessity for permanent changes, the universe system of assessment on should be substantially re-considered. In like manner, an evaluation is not only a follow-up in education quality but also a mechanism useful to valorize the performance of other. In educational realm it is common that students are impressed by the opinion professors have over them. Most specifically, evaluation would be deemed as a way of emancipating or oppressing depending on interests at stake. In superior institutions –in general- there are mandatory exams which sometimes are undue and excessive for applicants. It is often assumed that students keep in mind that instance as painful, traumatic and stressing. Whenever individual expectative is so high in comparison with the affordable resources, it surfaces an inevitable stadium of anguish and anxiety; as the previous argument given, sometimes the pressure cannot be withstood and involved student decides to abandon its career or pending that course for a future season.


Although, it is truth that students will be examined in the rest of  their labored life, no other evaluation is more emotive and troublesome than it happens at University.  As a result, some professors abuses of this situation and enjoys having the authority to approve and disapprove the course irrespective of involvements that students display for such a seminar. Conflicts are eliminated when reviewers use that fear to impose their personal point of view over certain matter or reproducing their own prejudices. From Toyos point of view, the formal moment wherein ones are evaluated and others evaluators should be left behind if possible.


Following this explanation, M. Toyos proposes some suggestions that will improve exam-related practices to motivate students in learning. An interesting task for professors consists in investigating how much profound can be their students in the topics they taught. Certainly, it is not difficult to see teachers claiming that scholars have several grammars issues as well as orthographic mistaken in writing, but Toyos admits that under these circumstances the proper teacher is being questioned. Most specifically, students reflected the proper professor’s performance and perhaps it is the main cause of conflict between ones and others. Democratic debates in classrooms contribute to decompress the pressure students suffer in the previous instances prior to exams.           


In sum, these reviewed articles have the intention to analyze the reasons as to why a much more number of students are abandoning their career at Universities. The advent of a new millennium appears to request new method in superior education and consequent economic production. Under that context, the present review is intended to explain the different and complex issues which involve superior educative institutions to students as future practitioners. In practice, many professors have surely come across with situation like this nature in past and will be coming in future. Not only a flexible and assertive dialogue between students and professors will create a more efficient system than current but also will promote their undermined authority in classrooms and lower today the educational desertion.                 


Education and globalization

For many scholars, education looks to be jeopardized by modern globalisation or modernity. Besides, lost of illusion resulted in an apathy for knowledge. An extremely image saturation had damaged the education’s sense world-wide. The only effective steps that may revert this process is to reset ideals with aims at combining and adapting behaviours towards new forms of production (Kovadloff, 1992) (Reich and Schmitt, 1998) (Pérez López, 2007) (Potenzoni y otros, 2007) (Beck, 1986) (Habermas, 1988) (Bauman, 2005)  (Llavador y Dobon, 2005).


In the world, pedagogic experts agreed that education would be re-thought as an untangled net of interrelated systems. Even though all these sort of components varies on each country or culture, an homogeneous method of study is strongly needed. The fact is that these prophetical postures forgot to note that the pedagogic problems surface as a result of social pressure and normative rules. In consequence, Phillip Mcoombs was the first in 1971 who introduced this point on debate. From McCoombs point of view, the problem was related to the form as to how lecturers evaluated their students in lieu of a supposed emptiness of sense.


For other hand, educations as a part of political system should not be analysed separately. Following Bordieu and Passeron, education should be deemed as a mechanism with the end to create consciousness in future workers mind and insert them in the heart of economy. Following durkhemian heritage, scholars sees the possibility that education and economy infrastructure work together. If this is correct, a crisis in education issues would be no other thing than a problem or shift in economy and vice-versa. The society needs to reproduce certain inequalities to reinforce the normative order among the diversity of involved groups (Bordieu and Passeron, 2003:15) (Durkheim, 1997; 1999; 2003;2004a; 2004b) .   


In accordance to this concern, Feglia and Socaire (2007) consent that modernity has brought social fragmentation as well as a declination of self-image (identity) wherein is predominated the lack of interest, frustration and fears. On contrary to this thesis, another scholars sustained strongly that free and public education had caused mass enrolments not only at high-schools but also at universities. This simplicity in question entails that many candidates loose interests in education because there is no merit in obtaining a degree. As much as easier the education turns a much more declination in the student’s interest.


From these stance, education would be transformed to return at certain values along with excellence, hierarchal order, and sacrifice. In other words, the solution for this problems is not to make education easier than today but more difficult (Tenti Fanfani y Sidicaro, 1998) (Tenti Fanfani, a2000) (Tenti Fanfani, b2000) (Tenti Fanfani, 2003). Nevertheless, we suppose a possible glitch on education systems had nothing to do with modernity or some another supra-structural condition. But whether they lacked motivation, how can explain the increasing number of exam-phobia therapists had denounced in last years?.


It is inarguable that education sometimes turns in a field of dispute between a diversity of stakeholders looking for centralizing or decentralizing the monopoly of education in many countries. In Chile for example explains Noel Mcginn the most celebrated experiment in decentralization of control in education has been taken place successfully after returned the democracy. In that country, decentralization reinforced the participation of a much increased number of citizens.  In analogical to Fanfani proposition, Mcginn acknowledges that “a democratic State seeks to maximize participation in decision making, while at the same time attending to an equitable distribution of access to resources. There is a dialectical tension between participation and the coherence and unity of an education system. Participation can lead to increased diversity and reduced coherence. Centralization does not necessarily produce coherence, however, and it is also possible for a centralized state to encourage diversity in its constituent regions” (Mcginn, 1992: 170). But ¿where does the principle of education turn mandatory in?.


The compulsory schooling had been based on the idea of efficacy, indoctrination and control; however in last years that goals appears to be something difficult to attain. In these lines, Boli and Ramirez argue that “mass education is best understood as a prominent consequences of the development of the cultural framework of the West as a whole. The separate territorial states of the west arose as subunits of a larger cultural polity; Latin Christendom, that provided a common set of fundamental definitions of the nature and meaning of social reality for all emerging subunits. Within the transnational Christian Framework , the dominant symbolic purposes of society were twofold: the glorification of god, which was expressed through theology religious art, and monumental architecture” (Boli and Ramirez, 1992:28).


From this perspective, expansion of technology supposed a progress for humanity in nineteenth century as a response to industrialization. That way, higher and compulsory education not only determined the society’s stratification but also compromised all economic resources to clarify as to what extent western frame-work should be sustainable. Other interesting point of view in this matter is Phillip Altbach´s in his article entitled “patterns in higher education”. The modernization of societies is possible thanks to the action of universities in training an increasing number of applicants who will have a profession at a later day. For that reason all them share a same reality even though each one maintain differences based on customs and traditions of each country or nation. These issues may very well affect the progress of academic life like the example of Latin American universities shows. In that institutions, University not only is deemed as a channel of social mobility like in the rest of the globe but also is a form to generate political support and hegemony. Nevertheless, these type of State institution are public and grant most participation for all who excluded from economic circle than Europeans and American’s ones (Altbach, 1992). Nevertheless one of harshest criticizers of  education was the American economist T. Veblen who will be treated in the next section.


The leisure Class

Theorstein Bunde Veblen, American economist born in 1857 and son of a Norwegian immigrants, was one of the first researchers in investigating how may be studied the symbolic consumption and pecuniary emulation in American society. His approaches and reflections, were used by sociologists, anthropologist, philosophers regardless the time. Most likely, his most famous work was The Theory of Leisure Class written in 1899. Basically, the work of reference divides the societies in two kind: a) technical-productive class and b) the leisure class. Even Veblen knows that there are many grades and types of communities, the influence of history determined a bipolar scheme based only on the possibility to produce certain surplus.


At time of one society comes from “savagery” to “civilization” stadium, there is a shift in the style of life conditions as well as emulation incentives. Human activities became in a symbolic feat and the productivity is replaced by the search of trophies, pride and heroism. As a result of this, a leisure class surfaces from a set of diverse aspects. At a first instance, there is a change of mind regarding the property value. It means that consuming is symbolized as an event linked to richness; secondly, property is internalised following certain criterion along with pride and heroism. Principally, Veblen wrote “the richness possession transfers pride and work like an individual distinction” (Veblen, 1974:32).


For another hand, the principle of war had been associated to winners and losers. Even archaic human groups was in war against their neighbouring tribes constantly, property was applied on the spirit of community. On contrary, whenever mankind acquires material property as a richness symbol, esteem started to be part of production line. Besides, Veblen is highly obsessed in demonstrating how efficiency is in productive classes (at the bottom of pyramid) a mechanism of social distinction whereas in ruling class prevails a “ceremonial dichotomy” wherever some trades scorned are. The tendency of ostentation appears to be linked in conspicuous consumption needs. Specifically, members of leisure class are interested in develop abstract and theoretical ideas; in consequence, they strongly prefer to spent time in issues regarding education, war, sports, religious and governments. For that reason, in Veblen leisure class is represented by governors, sportsmen, priests, soldiers and thinkers. This point reflects perfectly the sense that he gave to his theory. In other terms, like politicians the lecturers scramble with others groups to reach power, fame and mental skills that helps providing them with distinction and social reputation.


Under Veblen point of view, influence of leisure class dreams in superior education is undeniable. Initially, knowledge was monopolized by priest circles with the aim of interceding among Gods and parishioners. This ability brings around this group such a prestige and power that suddenly they accessed to certain benefits inside feudal order. Under specific linguistic codes of control, leisure class assure the dominance of all working strata preventing any conflictive riots. Most likely, leisure class promotes humanism with regard to terms such as inferior, superior, high, medium, low or another esthetical sense else. In other words, Veblen is convinced that educative excellence is aimed at reinforcing power of leisure class and imbalances proper of the system. The main criteria that considers this class to belong, is the erudition criteria as to which emphasizes human being inequalities.


In accordance with this explanation Soriano confirmed “being an academic writer is not an easy task; however, any person who aspires to a college education has to become one in order to succeed in this highly competitive world. One of the first rules is to acquire the language of the academy which requires students to do critical thinking and argumentative writing” (Soriano, 2005). For that reason, my colleagues disdained from students arguing they not only paid any attention in class but also had several obstacles to read fluid and write correctly. It remains to be seen the reasons as to why student were afraid to graduate.


The first impression

My class was intended originally to Professional Ethic and Deontology as previously mentioned. The syllabus was set up according to practise example tourism-based experience in the field combining stoic philosophy with practical exercises of reading analysis.  As previously noted, the two groups had been shaped heterogeneously but females were predominant. To be more exact, at a total of 18 members, first group shaped 4 males and 14 females. By the way, the second was formed by 8 males and 17 females. By respecting to age, both groups ranged across to 20 and 31 years old. Notwithstanding, from a total of 18, just 3 had a job in tourism while of 25 just 6 worked at hotels or agency travels. The rest students remained vacant.


Interaction commenced just at once of I had opened the door found almost thirty students who welcomed me with certain indifference. After my formal presentation, students did not give any evidence of insubordination or lack of respect as I have occasionally warned. The class was intended to discuss the liaison between epicurean and stoic philosophy regarding the Ethic and Moral life in Ancient Greece and Rome.


Although, students were captured by my explanation it was unfortunate they had any background about philosophy neither Ethic. For other hand, even if a great majority noted that Ethic is in fact related to the norms, rules and thoughts of certain community, they had not clear as to what extent Ethic would be applied on tourism issues; and that was a problem for me; In consequence, some of them said “we have no clue about ethic means and nor it would be applied on modern tourism issues; the point ¿is the tourism ethical?”.


Once finished the first classroom, I inclined to think that my colleagues had just exaggerated in their comments or had any intention to work conscientiously with  youth. Basically, the thoughts struck me that students were astonished (under temporarily control) because of their interest in knowing the ancient history. In turn, my colleagues were decided to teach something that nobody like to learn.  But ¿why are tourism students concerned about a civilization with more than two thousand years old?.


An alternative response was related to the possibility that these students (who were next to graduation) maintains certain reluctance to be graduated because of fears and resistance feeling. If this is the case, fears helps to offset the anguish feelings in association to aggression, apathy or a supposed lack of interest. In recognition to this in final assessment I gave to them the opportunity to prepare a monograph opting for an issue of wholly syllabus, at the end of seminar I realized that more than 70% of students have chosen their essays on Rome and Greece while the other 30% leaned to develop some criticism on Kantian ethic. Moreover, almost all youth manifested an evident scare to be evaluated in final oral assessment in combination by a necessity to know in advance the preliminary question of such exam. “Professor, sorry for being so persistent but which topics will be included in the assessment?” was a question that I have heard once and once again.  Other dialogues with them revealed they felt frustrated after a long fruitless search for jobs on tourism.  A point that I remember they did not tolerate is the fact that in tourism the best appointments are held by unprofesionlized people. A degree in tourism did not guarantee a job and that was a cause of angry.   


In recognition to this, students suffered an evident panic because next year they would have been obliged to compete as practitioners at a market wherein everything would sound new for them. That way, this point would in part explain the reasons as to why they paid heed when I taught about Ethic in Ancient History. Sometimes people distress whenever did not know about their future and paradoxically seek refuge in tradition, history and customs. As psychology system paradigm sustained any action is counteracted by a self-directed reaction (Ceberio y Watzlawick, 1998).  In this case,  two question surfaced immediately. ¿Why does lecturers gossip about their students?, and ¿why are students fright to reach their graduation?.  Paradoxically, students were afraid to finish the career whereas they had put efforts, time and resources to do it.  


Graduation and professional paradox.  

Psychologically, any change lead us to feel uncertainness and fear because it cut our phenomenological world in two parts; here and there as well as now and tomorrow are two side of the same coin. As White and White had said “contemporary relationships are increasingly conducted between people separated by significant geographical distance. One instance of temporary separation is that between tourists and their families, friends, and colleagues back home. In earlier times, this separation was managed with telegrams. Letters, and postcards. Distance affected the speed of reliability of contact. Today cell phones, the internet, and the deducted cost of landline telephone have significantly changed the ease and timing of keeping in touch. The ubiquity and accessibility of these communication service enable tourist remain in contact with the people from whom they are geographically distant” (White and White, 2007: 88-89). This is the reason as to why any traveller comes often back home. To travel looks to be a eternal search of identity, once arrived at destination, the necessity to return is stronger.


Like a journey, graduation implies an ambivalent feeling. For one hand, students are afraid to enrol in working realm at time of finishing their career while (on another) they are rushed to accomplish it as soon as possible, sliding any unexpected inconvenience (like exams) that may ruin their objective. For example, a final exam may cause such a pressure that sometimes a person may opt to abandoning their studies or deciding not to take appearance in final assessments. Paradoxically, they failed not to confront their own fears.


At end of the course, a fluid conversation between myself and students revealed that they were interested in studying tourism but for Management issues and not for working as a guide. It is unfortunate, in Buenos Aires all only two Universities (very expensive by the way) allow to access in tourism careers without any intermediate degree. In turn, the rest are intended to offer Tourism degree as an intermediate step towards a final Bachelor like Tourist Guide. The point is that most part of students do not like to work as Guide but are obliged into learning different courses that comprise inevitably the career. Furthermore, in the last class one of these students told me “thanks a lot professor because all we have learnt, your course was complex for us. If you ask us, we had never been taught to think indeed”.   These nice comments said more than I interpreted. Other informal interviews focused on higher tourism-related education issues. ¿is something to do when students are forced to study?.  A tentative response is also not at all. 


Final Comments.

Following this double bind, professional paradox invites students to be part of one illusion at time of enrolling to the Campus but whenever the end is close to reach, a notable sentiment of panic emerges. Sometimes a trade-market is under suspect to encourage a downright and inhuman competition but at other instances, emergent claims of profesionalization surface.


Pedagogically, we strongly acknowledge that professional paradox exists as a form of symbolic re-adaptation in whole part of students. Therefore, some measures are strongly suggested in  education to avoid situations of this nature:


1)       Final exams would be considered orally or in writing depending on each one candidate profile.  A standardized method not only did not work in reverting fear but also turns self-defeating for their performances.


2)       The lack of discipline in students may be explained by interpreting the professional paradox theory.


3)       Lecturers would understand that an student verbal aggression did not undermine their authority in classroom. Instead of punishing these kind of behaviour in public, they would be in follow up and study the reasons behind. 


4)       Even though, a way of captivating the student minds is to talk sincerely, sometimes this seems not be enough. For that, the syllabus had not to be followed verbatim in all circumstances.


5)       Sometimes, in re-considering all educative programs it is strongly important to create and alternative bridge between public and private education as well as decentralizing the hegemony of trade in education. The intervention of State plays an important role in this matter.


One of the other problems that lecturers come across with but have unresolved is to motivate their students when they are not interested in learning. Students are not under but over-motivated. In spite of my colleagues recommendations, I was able to receive attention from my students without any problem. The thoughts struck me that they and myself have something different. My colleagues not only were distinguished lecturers but also had more than five years old or gaining seniority in teaching tourism meanwhile I was very green in that concern (scarcely one year old).


In sum, probably, this difference explains further than a hundreds of books or conferences.  Under that circumstances, philosophy not only present as a useful instrument in expanding frontiers beyond the capacities of mind, but also contribute critically to study this issue in depth. This was a surface expression of a much more deep-seated issue which still merits to be researched.   


Korstanje Maximiliano

University of Palermo, Argentina.

Department of Economics.



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[1] Korstanje, Maximiliano is Ph D (cand) in Social Psychology. John F. Kennedy University (Argentina) and works as lecturer at Universidad de Palermo, Argentina. Furthermore, he is researcher member of AIEST (INTERNATIONAL ASSOSIATION OF SCIENTIFIC AND EXPERT IN TOURISM, Saint Gallen, Switzerland) and member of INTERNATIONAL SOCIETY OF PHILOSOPHERS, IFSP Sheffield.