"This class will be a revolving door"

majdak

Member
Czech
Hello everybody,

I came across this expression in a movie scene. A teacher in class introduces herself and explains the students some things about the course.
She says also:
"This class will be a revolving door. Some of you will make it, some of you won't."

I don't get the idea of the "revolving door" metaphore. Is it simply that it's open to everyone, but still not quite easy to pass through?

And second, more general question - is this expression idiomatic, or is it just a metaphor (quite unclear to me...)?

Thank you!
 
  • Riverby

    Senior Member
    NZ English
    Here is an elaboration of the metaphor.

    Some students will be successful. That is, the school's teaching will take them from one status (relatively uneducated) to another, superior one (educated, ready for work or further eduction). Metaphorically, the revolving door of school takes them from one place (eg inside) to another (eg outside).

    Other students will fail. Their status (uneducated) does not change. Metaphorically, the revolving door returns them to their original status.
     

    Copyright

    Senior Member
    American English
    I don't get the meaning here, either (glad I'm not taking that class).

    In my experience, it means one of two things:

    1. From the Free Dictionary: 2. Informal An organization, institution, or place whose members, personnel, or population remain only a short time before going elsewhere.

    2. A place where people go out, only to return a short time later (as you would do in a real revolving door if your timing is off).

    Since there's no indication that this is a required course and that people who fail will have to repeat it, I don't know what the significance is.

    Revolving door is, however, a fairly well-known expression with the meanings above.
     

    Copyright

    Senior Member
    American English
    One last thought: revolving doors in motion are easier to get through than normal doors if you know what you're doing, so perhaps that's what the teacher meant: pass or fail, it won't slow your life's progress at all. :)

    I wouldn't use it that way, but I'm not everyone.
     

    Copyright

    Senior Member
    American English
    Copyright's suggestion (post #6) does not, in my view, accord with the original context.
    Oh, I agree, but then, as I said in my original post, I don't find the original usage appropriate at all.

    I put "revolving door" into Google with the idea that I might show the usual definitions I mention in post #4, but frankly that's all I saw, so I thought I would save myself the effort.

    What would be more interesting for me is to see a couple of real-world examples that match the metaphor described in post #3: that some go from inside to outside (pass), while others return to the place they began (fail).

    I remain open-minded, but I didn't see anything similar in my search.
     

    se16teddy

    Senior Member
    English - England
    She says also:
    "This class will be a revolving door. Some of you will make it, some of you won't."
    I think she means that the class will, as it were, have a revolving door. Some students will enter and remain; others will enter but will be soon or immediately judged inadequate and leave again. If you remain in a revolving door for a one or two revolutions, you visit a room very briefly.

    The revolving door image is a conventional one, at least in UK political discourse. Here, for example, it is used to indicate that patients enter a place (a ward or hospital bed) very briefly only to leave again. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/8124830.stm
     
    Last edited:

    Riverby

    Senior Member
    NZ English
    If you enter into Google this:
    recidivism +"revolving door" prisons
    you will get examples of the metaphor as it is commonly used.
     

    Copyright

    Senior Member
    American English
    If you enter into Google this:
    recidivism +"revolving door" prisons
    you will get examples of the metaphor as it is commonly used.
    Perhaps we'll just have to disagree... when I offered my second definition in post #4 -- A place where people go out, only to return a short time later -- I was specifically thinking of recidivism.

    And after plugging your search term in, the first article that caught my eye had this headline: Legislature Stops the Revolving Door of Recidivism. If "revolving door" meant to the legislature that some people would get out and stay out, then then wouldn't want to stop that. Their revolving door is people getting out and soon re-offending and coming right back in. (In fact they wouldn't use "recidivism" in the same sentence with "revolving door" unless they found them nearly synonymous.)

    That search, with "recidivism" in there, would seem to support my definition of one-way (in this case U-turn) traffic -- not some taking the high road and some taking the low road.
     
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