My father was a teacher at the Journalism school of Navarre’s University in Spain from 1960 to 1992. I studied in that school and attended his classes, but I couldn’t take his exams. Instead, a tribunal of three teachers was in charge of testing me, and they took it seriously.
Dad taught Literature, Technology, and Ethics. And he never failed a student. His Literature lectures were done so that everybody finished anxiously to read the book about what he had been talking about. In Ethics, he encouraged debates among the students about controversial cases of real-life he knew to moderate, so we learned to think about our profession’s ethical questions and the deep implications of the decisions we will have to take.
When there was the exam moment, he used to put the questions and left the room, leaving the students alone, and when he returned, he usually knocked on the door just in case people were cheating to give them time to stop doing so in his presence.
But as one of the students wrote in a testimonial for his centenary, we celebrated last year, despite everybody knowing all that, all studied a lot for his exams, and nobody cheated out of respect for the man and enthusiasm for how he was teaching them his subjects.
My dad used to say thinking in his ethics students: Why should I give them a bad grade? If they don’t want to learn, life will fail them.