The Student Error [chapter]

Alexander M. Sidorkin
2009 Labor of Learning  
This essay is an analysis of what one might call the student error. The aim is to understand where the error comes from, and what truth about education and schooling can it reveal. I will also consider some implications of such a truth. Helping me today are Valentin Volosinov and Pierre Bourdieu. The student error is a set of fallacious assumptions many K-16 students make. The following description is drawn in hope that it will be easily recognized by those who teach; it is based on experience,
more » ... ased on experience, not on empirical studies. • A student's effort and time expenditure must determine his or her grade. Ultimately, a high school or college diploma costs a certain amount of work. • No teacher can expect students to work over certain customary amount of time and level of difficulty. • Teachers somehow benefit from forcing students to work more; schoolwork is something done for teachers. The main underlying assumption here is that schoolwork is a form of labor performed by students for the benefit of teachers, or for those who the latter represent. It is not performed for the benefit of the student. Even though most teachers will agree that schoolwork may appear to be like that, we also insist that learning is not only about effort and that all that students do "for us" benefits only them and no one else. We demand work for students' own good and persistent manifestations of the student error is frustrating to us. It feels as if our gift of teaching is being turned down, or questioned, or not appreciated sufficiently. The student error is thus directly opposed by the teacher's truth about education in general and schooling in particular. The teacher's truth includes linking education to such lofty virtues as being truly human, realizing every person's potential, promoting social justice, and preparing students for adult responsibilities. According to teachers, schooling is not a form of students' labor; rather, it is a service provided to students often at public expense, or with public support. The refusal to understand, accept or
doi:10.1163/9789087907594_003 fatcat:gqqhzqgcxzb35lodqq4bnp5ioa