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The teachers’ pedagogical fiduciary duty to their students


In education, the teacher’s fiduciary duty to their students has been usually considered within the context of legal or ethical studies. In this article, I consider the notion of the teacher’s fiduciary duty from a pedagogical point of view as the obligatory relationship that shapes guidance, advisement, and organization of the educational processes. I discuss what the fiduciary duty in general and the pedagogical fiduciary duty in specific is. I examine the three major arguments against the teachers’ pedagogical fiduciary duty to their students coming from educational paternalism, institutionalism, and self-directed education. Similar to the legal and medical field studies of the fiduciary duty, I bring and analyze several problematic cases of the teachers’ pedagogical fiduciary duty to their students, involving a teacher’s unsolicited guidance, non-fiduciary fiduciary, autopaternalist fiduciary, and legitimatizing the student’s voice. Based on these cases, I abstract five types of self-education. Finally, I contemplate how much the teacher-student pedagogical fiduciary relationship is dialogic and democratic.

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  2. Later this part of the Proposition was found unconstitutional and unenforceable but not because of the courts’ recognition of teachers’ fiduciary duty to their students:



  5. I used the term “foisted” rather than “forced” to include hidden pressures. For example, although higher education is not compulsory (so far) and even students often pay for it (e.g., in the USA), it is often foisted on them by the university demanding what and how the students must study.

  6. Literally, “paternalism” means “the tendency to treat individuals in the same way as a father treats his children” (Nordenbo, 1986, p. 123).

  7. Universal objective reasoning leads to the objective truth, existing out-there, independent of the human particular or even unique subjectivity.

  8. Kant’s education is instrumental to serve autonomy rather than intrinsic having its worth in itself (Matusov & Marjanovic-Shane, 2019).

  9. Rational people can be also immature, according to Kant, when they cannot enact decisions, they rationally arrived at because of a lack of their will, self-discipline. Reverse can be true as well: mature, self-disciplined, people can be non-rational.

  10. In this sense, Kant’s position fits progressive education (LaVaque-Manty, 2006; Matusov, 2021a).

  11. However, in his classic work “On liberty,” John Stuart Mill argued against the legitimacy of such paternalism to prevent self-harm: “That the only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilised community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others. His own good, either physical or moral, is not a sufficient warrant” (Mill, 1865, p. 21). Based on self-determination as a basic human right, not everybody accepts paternalism even outside of education.

  12. In many Medieval Southern European universities, professors were controlled, hired, and fired by students (Cardozier, 1968; Cobban, 1975).

  13. “Поди туда—не знаю куда, принеси то—не знаю что” in Russian. It is the title of a well-known Russian fairy tale. A translation of this fairy tale to English can be found here:; and a full-length Russian animated movie made after this fairy tale can be found here: In English, the title of the fairytale is also known as “Go I know not whither and fetch I know not what”:

  14. Symdidact means “directed together” in Greek.

  15. From the Greek words “odigόs” – a guide, a driver – and “didact” – to direct. Odigόsdidact means directed by a guide.


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Correspondence to Eugene Matusov.

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Matusov, E. The teachers’ pedagogical fiduciary duty to their students. Integr. psych. behav. (2022).

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