Johnny, Be Good

Sit straight, look forward, speak when spoken to, regurgitate answers-the answers the teacher wants. Repeat.

The definition of what a “good student” is according to Kumashiro’s Against Commonsense. 

Who is this picture perfect student? The middle-class, white privileged student. It is the student who the teacher was a mere five years ago. The student who aims to please, who is supported at home, who is provided the essentials and taught how to meet the expected expectations to ensure they meet success.

It is the student who is far removed from the realities the “bad” students know. The good student doesn’t live in a poverty stricken home, isn’t marginalized by his/her race or culture, doesn’t think outside the box, doesn’t step to the beat of his/her own drum. The good student is a carbon copy of all that is sadly defined as preferred, acceptable performance in the classroom.

When we define students this way, we lose our sight of the individuals we are teaching. We throw away the unique differences that provide exceptional learning opportunities for everyone. We become frustrated and annoyed with the students refusing to fit into the mould, and we allow these students to fall through the cracks. We are not able to define or understand the actions of “bad” students; we blind ourselves to this students needs by quickly defining anything outside of the acceptable “good” students. This not only fails our student in the classroom, but we fail ourselves as teachers when we choose to simply label behaviour rather than accept and learn from the behaviour.

It is important we look past labels of our students. As educators, we cannot allow a student’s behaviour or lack to conform to the lesson plan result in a negative label. Rather, we must learn from the student, and remould ourselves as teachers and mindful, accepting and inviting of different learning styles.

When we begin to welcome and learn from the students who challenge what is “good,” it is then we begin to truly understand what it is to teach.

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3 thoughts on “Johnny, Be Good

  1. Jasmine, I enjoyed reading your post! I especially enjoyed your statement that when we label behaviour we are failing as teachers. As educators we are not there to judge; we are there to take our students qualities and work with them in a way that allows for success. I believe that it is important to know each and every one of our students on a personal level so that we are able to fully understand where they are coming from and how we can help them become their own person.

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  2. Very thought provoking, you bring up a lot of issues or areas that need to be focused on. It is interesting to me that you brought up poverty as I did not even consider that when I was working on my response. However a very quick search and I found that there is a lot of research to back up the affects of poverty in education. One article I like is this one, http://1.usa.gov/1gcId5a where they look at affects on readiness. This is something that I have never actually thought about before, but students with a lower sec are starting with a deficit before the race is even begun.

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  3. I really liked your post this week. I like how you mentioned the different issues that people do not bring up because it is a difficult topic to talk about. When I become a teacher I do not want to think of any of my students being “under privileged” because of the colour of their skin, or living in poverty (your post made me think of this).

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