Rose Couture

Aspiring teacher. “The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires.” ― William Arthur Ward

Being a “Good” Student and Learning Through Crisis

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In Kumashiro’s Against Common Sense chapter 2, we are introduced to different views of a “good” student and how it is possible for teachers to teach through crisis. According to common sense and mainstream society, a good student is a student who sits quietly in the classroom, who listens to the teacher and retains the information, someone who gets good grades, a student that gets along with everybody or is popular, who follows the rules, behaves, is always on time, and who says what the teacher wants to hear. In this “common sense” definition of a “good” student, we can clearly see that the society we are living in gives us this biased vision of what a good student really is. The same applies to the “good” teacher’s definition, coming from outsiders and from people who do not completely realize what the teaching profession really involves. In this representation of a “good” student, certain types of students are privileged and others are oppressed. Students who are privileged by this definition are the ones who directly identify to some of these preconceived labels, but the majority of the students present in the classroom will definitely be oppressed and left out by this definition if their “bad” characteristics overpower their “good” ones. In addition to that, the students who do not identify at all with the mainstream definition are definitely left out. A student who does not learn the same way other students do will be penalized compared to others. For example, a student that requires more hands-on situations and visual aids to grasp the concepts will be oppressed compared to the student who can understand concepts just by listening to the teacher and copying down the notes that the instructor writes on the board. Every single student will have a different learning technique, because we are all different from one another, we are unique individuals.

In the same chapter, we also see how learning should be a slightly uncomfortable process, that students will learn through crisis. Curriculum in many schools will be expecting the teacher to provide a safe and comfortable learning environment for the children. Although that might seem like the common sense way to approach things, it is not necessarily right. As students learn, they realize that some of their previous knowledge is biased and that makes them feel uneasy and might even make them feel reluctant to learn. Our mission is to question and challenge oppressions, but by doing so, we are making students feel uncomfortable, therefore we are not providing a safe and comfortable environment. This is false. There are ways to provide a safe and comfortable learning environment, as well as an environment that will make the students feel uncomfortable enough for them to learn. We want to make them challenge oppressions, feel uncomfortable, but within boundaries. Teachers also need to realize that by making the students feel uneasy, it will trigger them to go through crises. Not every student will enter a learning crises at the same time as another student in the same classroom. It is also possible for a whole classroom to enter crises at the same time, but it is important to remember that no student will experience the crises in the same ways. Therefore the importance of adapting to the constantly changing situation in the classroom, and being able to provide sufficient information in order to comfort students. What are your thoughts on teaching and learning through crises? Is it the right thing to do? How are some students privileged compared to others?

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