“Good” student “bad” student.

I have been through three educational systems. I have attended a private liberal primary school in Albania where languages such as English, Italian, and German were mandatory for students to choose from. Where students were divided into bad and good students, the good students would sit on the front rows next to the teacher, and the bad students would sit on the back row. I sat somewhere in the middle. What really means to be a good or a bad student though? Where my professors too lazy to dedicate time to some students who had learning problems? As I mentioned before, I sat somewhere in the middle of the classroom. The “bad” students were sitting by the tables on the back row and the “good” students on the front row closer to the professor and the blackboard. I wasn’t considered a good or a bad student. Let’s just say I was somewhere in the middle. Hence, the place where I was seated. If I look back at the sitting scheme, it reminds me of where Bart Simpson from “The Simpsons” sat in class, and how he influenced the grades of the students around him.  The farther a student sat from Bart the better were the chances on getting a good grade and passing. I wonder though if that is what my professors had in mind. Dividing the students based on categories and only paying attention to the ones who they thought was worthy of their attention, and simply ignore some students who according to them had no perspective in life.  As an average student I often felt out of place. My professors would always tell me that I have lots of potential, and that I’m just lazy.  “If you could just try a little harder and not hang out with your friends on the back row you can be a great student” they would often say. I hated when they told me that.  I did enjoy getting in trouble just like the “bad” students. We would skip classes and go out for a smoke or an occasional beer. But that little escape from the professors iron fist wouldn’t last long. There would always be someone who would snitch for a better grade.

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4 Comments

  1. It’s too bad you never ran into a teacher like Carl or me who knew how to (and enjoyed) changing the shape of the room: jerking the chains of the wise-asses up in the back row; squashing a little of the smugness of the princesses (of all ethnicities and genders) in the front; suddenly paying a lot of attention to one of the self-defined anonymities in the middle.
    A formal declaration that you had lots of potential wasn’t likely to get the job done. Someone like you has to be tricked, conned, or otherwise surprised into exhibiting some fulfillment of that potential in public. — But it takes a lot of attention and a little creativity on the part of the teacher to set up something like that; and it takes some preparation of classroom chemistry so that the strategy chosen actually has the right array of affects all around.
    Actually, and Carl will remember this, the easiest times I had with that sort of thing were evening classes, when, among other things, we ALL ended up going out for a smoke and a beer. Classroom chemistry is intricate, plural, and very local: i.e. there’s no formula one-size-fits-all. That’s why you have to pay so much attention if you’re going to be a successful teacher in this regard. The individuality of everyone in class folds into the chemical soup in order to actualize itself. Creating the chemistry is actually a lot easier to do than explain; and since I don’t know you I can’t say what the scam for you would be.
    How could you ever feel out of place if you were self-identifyingly average. That was your place. The trick would be to make it impossible for you to feel average, hence REALLY out of place.

  2. So true. Jetnor and DtE. This idea of place is intriguing, especially as I transition to a new one. One of the standard ways to identify people is by place, which is why ‘where are you from’ is one of the first questions. And one of the reasons Deleuze and Guattari use the language of territorialization and deterritorialization in their critical theory. Putting people in their place, knowing your place. Should you change places? Should you hold your ground?

  3. So now I’m curious about how you would compare the ‘placing’ of students in the three educational systems you’ve observed? What do they do, and how do the students respond and adapt?

  4. I am still writing and thinking about the differences that the “placement” changes from one education system to an other. I will use information based on personal experience and observation.
    Also, being self aware of the fact that you have been placed in a category brings more dilemma, This can also lead to existentialist crisis. One trying to rise above the stigma of being branded but not being able to unless the environment is changed.
    I figured that categorizing students based on the grades they take was the easiest approach on dealing with 30+ students in a class. Some of the professors I dealt with figured that they can focus their energy on the people who they thought they were worthy of, and simply ignoring the rest and letting them slip away. There are two ends to it, and when I try to analyse both perspectives, it gives me a headache.

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