When I think of a “good” student I think of a student who…
- pays attention in class
- finishes work on time
- respects those around them
- raises a hand to correctly answer a question
- gets good grades
In ECS 210 this past week we looked at the importance placed on a few areas in schools. In general, we agreed that student punctuality, good behaviour, and ability to do well on a test were believed to be important. Although we may see the issues with such importance placed on these areas at times, it is what we are “used to”. It comes back to our own common sense understanding of school and what our comprehension of a “good” student is, based upon our surroundings and past experiences. If we look back at Kumashiro’s writing in The Problem of Common Sense, as discussed in my first post, we see how students in Nepal would consider a “good student” to be. A “good” student in Nepal would complete the textbook work and simply follow the “lecture-practice-exam” (p. XXXI) style without question. This, privileging the students who tend to do well with textbook work and tests.
Looking again at the poll we took in class, it was interesting to see how art had little importance in our understanding of what’s important at school. In my small group discussion in class, we concluded that this did not surprise us. While schools tend to privilege students who excel with test taking and other forms of traditional assessment, students who excel in other areas, like art, are often viewed as “less than”. This has been ingrained into our “common sense” understanding of a “good” student in North America, leaving us with an oppressive and narrow view of the model student.
Furthermore, as we have our own understanding of a “good” student here in North America, students coming from different countries may have a harder time trying to fit in to this narrow understanding. As “common sense” differs for everyone, so too does our understanding of a “good” student.
“There is something oppressive about what we often say it means to be a student and, simultaneously, what it means to learn.”(Kumashiro, 2010, p. 23)
As Kumashiro stated, “views do not arise from nowhere” (2010, p. 28). This “good” student image has been carved from many past historical factors and our overall limited view of what makes a student good. As we read the first few sections of Painter’s 1886, A History of Education, it was clear that ideas of what makes a “good” student have somewhat remained the same over time. It is still often the students who pay attention, are not too loud, get good grades, and are punctual, that are privileged in school.
With this said, I believe today educators are looking for ways to involve all different types of learners in the classroom. We are challenging our “common sense” ideas of what makes a “good” student. We are becoming more willing to face the uncomfortable topics as Kumashiro talks about. It is through these changes, and ultimately the changes of society around us that our understanding of a “good” student can be reshaped.
So, as we enter the classroom I challenge us all to break away from our “good” student image, looking beyond the potentially harmful status quo definition.