Good Students and Great Students


Common sense would dictate that a “good” student can is obedient, sits quietly and listens to the teacher’s instructions, does all of their work and homework in the way the teacher wanted, and is engaged in all of the lessons.

This definition privileges children who have long attention spans and enjoy learning in a standard classroom setting. It privileges students who have a parent or guardian at home who have the time and ability to help them with their homework and give them extra support. It privileges children who learn in one distinct way. This would give those students a significant advantage over other children who may have single parent families or parents/guardians who are not able to give them the extra support to succeed in this kind of environment.

Past curriculum has decided what classrooms look like and who they want students to be when they are finished school. They focused on obedience and skills for the jobs that needed filling. Life is very different now and there are different opportunities and struggles for children then there was in the past, yet our curriculum has changed so little.

Perhaps instead of trying to turn children into good student that are who we want them to be, we should be helping them to be great students and discover who they want to be, while teaching them how to have understanding and empathy for the other individuals around them.

A History of Education

What it Means to be a Student


4 Replies to “Good Students and Great Students”

  1. Jen – You note that the “good” student in engaged in all lessons. You’re correct that this privileges students who can sit still well and have long attention spans. You might also consider how this might marginalize students who come from different backgrounds where the commonsense understanding of what being engaged looks like is different from our understandings here in Canada. For instance, we would probably see being engaged as including things like answering/asking questions in class, but in some cultures the engaged student might simply sit quietly and complete their work without speaking.

    What connections can you make to the Kumashiro reading? How do his ideas of “troubling knowledge” and discomforting learning complicate the way we understanding the “good” student? It would be good to see you cite specific quotes from the readings in future posts, as this will strengthen your responses!

    1. Thank-you, it is helpful to think of “good students” from all perspectives.

  2. Jen,

    Your article made me see the privileges of children who are considered ‘good’ students and who the definition may fail to represent. I definitely did not think about single parent families or families who do not have time to give support to their children. I really like the last part of your article which says that we should be teaching children to have empathy and help them discover who they are.

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