Earlier this semester I wrote a blog post about Kevin Kumashiro’s definition of common sense. Common sense is the assumptions we make without question or analysis; it is the lenses we look through without realizing we are looking through any lenses at all. These sensical assumptions include many things such as what curriculum should look like, which assessment methods are best, AND what this blog will talk about: the good student. Common sense tells us that a good student does not question the teacher, can learn easily, is obedient and submissive, and needs no modifications. Generally, this definition favors white students that have no exceptionalities. When I type “good student” into Google, the image results are very telling about what this definition means.
If you enlarge that image you will see that the majority of people in those photos are white, at a desk, and are with books or demonstrate obedience and compliance. This definition excludes any students with learning disabilities such as dyslexia or ADHD, any students who are not white, and any students who excel in other areas that are not reading, writing, or arithmetic. This is probably why so many artists have shared their stories about how negative school was for them; their intelligence and talents did not fit into this definition and therefore they were set up to fail. Learning about these assumptions we make has helped me to become much more critical, and now when I hear the term good student I try to imagine all kinds of students from all backgrounds and remember that it will be my job to help them succeed.