ADVOCATING THE PURSUIT OF EXCELLENCE IN CIVILIZATION
诺亚舟国际学院：大咖课堂 | Daniel：Should We Look for the Best Student？
Should We Look for
the Best Student？
The Myth of “Best Student”
Who is the best student?
How does a teacher test their students and rank them from best to worst?
How do we decide what qualities make the best student?
If I give my students five hours of homework every week, is the best student the one who gets the best score, or is that the student who is the best at getting information from the book?
If I give my students a test, is the best student the one with the highest score?
Or is that student just the one that was lucky enough to find the teacher’s tricks, and make the least number of mistakes that day?
Isn’t it smarter for a student to do the part of the homework that helps them, and not waste time practicing what they already know?
Isn’t it smarter for a student to try to show what they know on a test and not waste time looking for tricks?
I don’t know the answer to any of these questions.
I do know that I need to spend my time teaching my students not waste time ranking them.
Some students like math,
some like art
In every class there will be a set of students who have developed an interest in the subject. When they start to study, they are learning to answer the questions they’ve had for a long time, or it’s something they’ve been working on as a hobby. Then there are students who have been interested in things outside of the high school.
As a teacher I can take the students who are already a step ahead of the others, give them more of what they want, and let others suffer because they have interests outside of school. The problem with this is that both sets of students lose.
The students that were interested in academics only learn what’s in the book. The students who like basketball or movies learn that there’s nothing for them in school. If everything you need is in books, then why are people writing new books? If there’s nothing for you in school then why are there so many successful business people in the arts and sports?
Education isn’t a contest
We put children in schools so they don’t need to discover, alone, what we already know. At each step in their early education we teach them what they need to know to be prepared for the next step.
By the time they are in middle school and high school they are on a path. They may be following special interests, in science, social studies, sports, arts, or many other things.
But more importantly they are gaining knowledge about things outside of those interests which give them more opportunities to be successful using their interests.
A software engineer who also appreciates writing will be able to communicate and market their product more successfully. An artist with some knowledge of science (paints are just chemicals) will have more tools to create masterpieces.
Testing students to see which one is best stops all of these things from happening.
What are the benefits of teaching
different kinds of students?
It is ideal to have different kinds of students in a class. The easiest example is that the students that understand can help students who are having a hard time. The slower students get more help, and teaching helps the faster students gain a deeper understanding.
In class, students who feel they understand don’t ask questions, slower students ask the questions others didn’t think of helping the whole class. The examples of students at different levels helping each other go on and on.
Every student is best at something
In order to teach a class an educator needs a curriculum, the plan that organizes the information students should learn in a class.
Educators also need to plan methods to help student understand what is being taught. The problem is each student is unique, which makes each group of students unique, which makes education a constant game of assessment. Every interaction students have with educators is some kind of assessment.
Educators should be assessing students’ understanding and using it to guide the next step in teaching. The problem is that I can either assess students to see if they understand the class or find the best student in the class. I cannot do both.
Who am I to decide who is best? I don’t even know (as I pointed out before) what it means to be the best student. If I have students of many levels in a class my job is easier and they all learn more.
It is much more productive to teach everyone, than it is to decide who is best.