What is a good student?

This week’s prompt asked us to consider what is a good student according to the commonsense and what does this definition make impossible.  Before getting into that definition, it is interesting to note that in our readings for this week the good student definition has changed very little in 130 years.  The first reading from 1886 is more racist in its description of a good student and our second reading doesn’t seem to fit the racist bill but seems to be more gendered in the good student ideal.

A good student according to the first reading is a white, male and the ideal is for them to be Christ like.  The reading then goes on to speak of those of Asian descent and how their religion, language and science are not compatible with the ideal student.

The second reading while it doesn’t mention gendered pronouns specifically, from the description of the challenging students I, at least, am given the impression that these students are boys. In the description of M wielding a branch sword, I feel that if it was a girl it wouldn’t be such an issue, as well as the description of M as restless and had little interest in crafts etc. also the description of N’s challenging behaviour leads me to believe that N was also a boy.  I feel here too that there would be more leeway for a girl that was challenging, and it would be seen as less of a problem. These students don’t fit the bill of the “good student” because they don’t sit quietly, or quietly accept what the teacher feels is important for them to learn.  So, therefore a good student is one who sits quietly, participates willingly in whatever activity the teacher puts out, produces the exact answer the teacher wants and generally follows the ideals of the teacher and school.

The problem with this is that it doesn’t  allow children to be “good students” in their own way.  We saw that N is interested in reading and writing when N has a choice of what N is going to read or write about.  We also see that M participates calmly and with great interest when his time and project are not strictly structured.  We as teachers and even the education system as a whole need to redefine our thinking and allow students to produce work that interests them, to be good students in their own way. The current definition also does not take into account cultural differences. I believe that if our schools were more student interest centered, we would have less behaviour problems, and less classroom management issues and more engaged students meeting the learning standards.

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