The Learning Renaissance

Set to Fail – The Reluctant Learners


We’ve all been there as teachers… the Year 9 student who oozes negativity, seems determined to disrupt the learning of others and drives you to distraction with every comment.

My nemesis was a lad in an inner city comprehensive who seemed to know all the buttons to press with me. I considered myself a calm and fair teacher who showed students respect and did not get into conflicts in the classroom, but this student was prepared to push the limits to the point that I was forced to react.

I taught him later in Y10 for History. He was a different lad. Witty and articulate and with a profound sense of fairness and justice, we managed to find the best in each other and we were both really proud of the final History grade he achieved.

He contacted me many years later to say he had a well paid job in telecommunications, had a son and partner and had really settled down. He thanked me for persevering with him and I admitted that I felt he was the one child who could get my goat to the point that I could do something really unprofessional- like throttling him! He apologised for his behaviour and said he was so used to being let down that he wanted to push me to see how committed I was to helping him. When he felt I had shown commitment he didn’t need the bad behaviour anymore.

This article from Ramy Mahmoud on Edutopia got me thinking again about Ian…A Tale of Two Perspectives: My Experience Starting with a Clean Slate | Edutopia

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About educationalist04

Dazed and confused much of the time but convinced we can, as a species, do much better than this if we set our minds to being much more positive and productive towards our fellow humans.

3 comments on “Set to Fail – The Reluctant Learners

  1. R Waring
    August 1, 2017

    Reblogged this on rwaringatl.

  2. lifeisallonebiglesson
    August 2, 2017

    Highly relatable, we all have that one student that tests us the most but also it feels the most rewarding when they do progress !

    • educationalist04
      August 2, 2017

      Absolutely… you need to keep looking at the big picture and let individual incidents wash over you.

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