A challenging piece … more than those “difficult” students that we all have … what about the ‘student nemesis’?
I know. You think that there’s no such thing as a worst student – only more or less challenging ones. You think that only professors who don’t care about their students have worsts and bests. You’d be wrong, but the mistake is an honest one. In truth, academics who don’t care about their students or about teaching are generally the ones that never encounter a “worst” student. To their way of thinking, every student is a bothersome distraction and the best that one can do is ignore these distractions and stay on task. These academics don’t lose sleep over their students. And trust me, if you face your worst, you will lose quite a bit.
So what do I mean by “worst”? Well, let’s begin with what I don’t mean. I’m not referring to the motivationally challenged ones that congregate in the back of class, or the overly anxious ones in the front. I am also not talking about the ones who have genuine difficulty grasping a subject. None of these are viable candidates. Your worst student, in my experience, is one that runs counter to your deepest care as a teacher. That’s the real reason why bad teachers don’t have worst students. Care. Yes, that virtue of all pedagogical virtues is the thing that makes the mere existence of a certain type of student so excruciatingly painful.
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Dr Bex Lewis is passionate about helping people engage with the digital world in a positive way, where she has more than 20 years’ experience. She is Senior Lecturer in Digital Marketing at Manchester Metropolitan University and Visiting Research Fellow at St John’s College, Durham University, with a particular interest in digital culture, persuasion and attitudinal change, especially how this affects the third sector, including faith organisations, and, after her breast cancer diagnosis in 2017, has started to research social media and cancer. Trained as a mass communications historian, she has written the original history of the poster Keep Calm and Carry On: The Truth Behind the Poster (Imperial War Museum, 2017), drawing upon her PhD research. She is Director of social media consultancy Digital Fingerprint, and author of Raising Children in a Digital Age: Enjoying the Best, Avoiding the Worst (Lion Hudson, 2014; second edition in process) as well as a number of book chapters, and regularly judges digital awards. She has a strong media presence, with her expertise featured in a wide range of publications and programmes, including national, international and specialist TV, radio and press, and can be found all over social media, typically as @drbexl.