What It Means to Be a Good Student

In Chapter 2, Kumashiro describes her experience teaching over several years, where she describes, how her ideas of what a “good student” looked like began to change. She describes two main students that she taught, who she calls “M” and “N”. These students were frustrating to Kumashiro at the beginning. They were disruptive, they didn’t do the work they were supposed to do, and overall they just didn’t put in the effort that she expected from them. Kumashiro describes that what she expected from her students, and what she felt should be common sense was for every student to be quiet, cooperative, and passive. When she had students like M and N who were not able or willing to fit within those boxes, she felt like she had failed at being an effective teacher.

 Photo Credit: ludwg Flickr via Compfight cc

The more she began to teach those students though, the more she realized that they were not “bad kids”. The fact is that they just thought differently than the other students. M and N didn’t learn through standardized tests or notes on a board, and it wasn’t until reflecting on it, that she realized that that wasn’t a bad thing; they just learned differently. The problem comes with the way schools teach. Either students are able to accept and adapt to the way schools teach, and therefore, they do well, or they are not able or willing to give in to the commonsense, thus they become frustrated and unhappy.

This commonsense in teaching and learning brings up another issue, that being that its difficult to do anything about it. Kumashiro describes how teaching in new or “uncomfortable” ways, makes those who are used to the standardized and current system upset and frustrated. This is why so many stray away from doing anything to accommodate those students like M and N, because the commonsense makes it so hard. Kumashiro brings up a lot of these great points that really make you think about how commonsense affects every aspect of schooling and our lives.




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