Do we write our students off as heroes or zeroes?

It’s very easy to ‘decide’ whether students look like they’re worth the extra effort or not, but as Tansy Jessop has always said (notably in the PGCLTHE teaching), all students can learn, so I was really interested to see this article:

That evening at the Queen’s Hall I realised something about my own profession with great clarity. We who teach in further or higher education often look at the students who aren’t applying themselves and dismiss them as useless ne’er-do-wells. Our contempt is really no more than a reflection of theirs: they seem to insult us by their total lack of interest in the subjects to which we have devoted our adult lives. It irritates us. These kids shouldn’t be in a college or university, we mutter to ourselves. They’re a waste of space, time and funding.

And yet, I see now, we actually have no idea who we might be dealing with or what’s going on with any of our students. Ralph and I must have seemed annoyingly hopeless at the age of 16 or 17, but in fact some kind of mental activity must have been stirring in us. We found our separate ways to what we were destined for, and society did eventually begin to get something back from us. It’s just that society had no idea in advance what it would get, or from whom. And we had no idea either.

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