What does it mean to be a “good” student according to the common sense? Which students are privileged by this definition of the good student? Which are oppressed and left out?

Teachers often say they want their students to be “good” students, but what exactly does that mean? Well, for some it means students who are actively engaged, puts effort into the assignments and ask appropriate questions at appropriate times. To others it can be the behaviour a child demonstrates through raising hands, taking turns speaking, sitting quietly, completing homework, coming to class with their materials and being prepared. If you ask any young child you can be guaranteed that he or she will name at least one of these points. So, if many people (parents and children alike) can describe a “good” student it must be common sense. Here we must ask ourselves the question again of who understands common sense. To those who do not share the common view, a “good” student could simply be one that shows up for class. But these views certainly advantage some while disadvantaging others. For those that “get” the common sense, being a “good” student may appear to come naturally as they have already discovered what it means. Others may not understand or meet expectations that are unwritten because they do not share the same values. The dominate culture in society will be the privileged group, while the group that is the minority will most likely be the oppressed group that is disadvantaged. In order to help the disadvantaged students, teachers must be clear with their expectations and discuss why those actions are valued. Perhaps being a well-behaved student is valued because the time will be spent learning the lesson and not correcting behaviour, but at any rate it must be evident to the student what is expected of them because common sense or common knowledge isn’t so common after all.

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This entry was posted in ECS 210: Curriculum as Cultural and Social Practice. Bookmark the permalink.

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