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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