“Good Student”

The “good” student is someone who learns in traditional ways (Kumashiro 20).  They sit still, follow the assignments, don’t question the teacher and practice the behaviors that our society deems as “normal.”  They relay back information to their teacher the exact way their teacher taught it to them, without their own – or different – opinions or critical review. In my English class I learned about a scholar named Bourdieu who believes that students who get A’s share the same social economic class and background as the teacher; they get A’s because they share the same common sense and they have a better chance of telling the teacher what they want to hear or understanding what the teacher wants.  I think this is applicable because if I am being honest, a good student for me would be someone who resembles me: female, middle class, engaged, volunteers, etc.  I know this isn’t right or fair and I will have to work on it as an educator. This privileges students who can learn in traditional ways but it disadvantages kids who don’t benefit from the norm or who need to learn in a variety of ways.  It disadvantages kids who differ from their teacher.  It disadvantages students with a different perspective than their teacher.  This “good” student, “bad” student labeling also disadvantages the “good” student; they may be scared to fail or have unreasonable expectations of themselves.

Teaching through crisis means to me that learning should not be comfortable for the teacher or the students. Knowledge needs to be challenged. Also, learning incorporates the classroom and the larger society and therefore, nothing can be ignored.

As a teacher, I think I will need to challenge my commonsense ideas about the “good” or “bad” student. I think I should strive for uncomfortable learning, which the curriculum does not account for.  It will be up to me to find those challenging topics and allow my students to think outside the box. I think this involves not being afraid to be wrong and not wanting the ultimate control; this is easier said than done but it is possible to work on this.  If I see my students feeling uncomfortable, that is a good thing and it is my job to help them out!

Anything worthwhile takes effort; learning without effort is not worth our while.

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