What does it mean to be a “good” student according to the common sense?
The good student according to common sense is always focused on school work and never gets distracted by things in the classroom or at home. They listen attentively to the teacher, sit throughout class, raise their hands to speak and generally cause little distraction or interruption. They have lives that allow them to do schoolwork at home and a lot of support for their learning from many areas. They are the students that take the least amount of energy for the teacher to teach and the least amount of money from the school system in terms of extra staff or learning resources. They are the students who learn what they are meant to learn and do not question why they are learning these things. According to common sense these students are superior but this is based off of innumerable factors that have very little to do with the students ability to learn or grow.
Which students are privileged by this definition of the good student?
Students who were in the upper class and have access to additional assistance and have home lives that are calm and stable allowing them to focus on school are those who are privileged in this model. Students who would not be considered ‘good’, like students who do not have additional supports or who have difficult and disruptive home lives that distract them from their school work would be by default bad or undesirable students.
Moreover, ‘good’ students give the correct answers in class and not creative or different answers. Teachers are often looking for specific answers to questions and when students do not interpret the world around them in the way that teacher or society expects they are considered incorrect or bad. Students who do not see the world in the way they are expected to or conform to the accepted version of the world are therefore considered bad students.
How is the “good” student shaped by historical factors?
Historically the school system that we use in Canada was strongly influenced by the European model which itself was strongly influenced by the industrial revolution and the introduction of factories. Students were produced, taught to believe what was easiest for them to fit into the job market of huge factories. They were taught to follow rules and obey their ‘superiors’ (teachers) without question. To sit in rows in their desks. They were meant to be productive and not disruptive and this legacy continues in schools today with students still being told to sit in rows and not disrupt the teacher from feeding them the necessary information they need to fit into today’s society.
Specifically in Canada, with its history of residential schools, students are expected to mirror the dominant culture in various ways and the students who belong to this dominant culture are undeniably privileged. This can happen even simply by the fact that teaching is a professional job which is more easily obtained and populated by those from the dominant culture. A student from another culture will be thrust into the care and likely surrounded by peers that are from that dominant culture and have the privilege of feeling comfortable and a sense of belonging, a privilege students from other cultures will never fully experience.