Conforming to the Model Student


School changes every one of its students. It changes some for the worse and some for the better. It changes their unique thought processes, the way they write and express themselves and even their personalities. This is all to attain the goal of the “model student” — a student that makes good grades and works hard, behaves in class and is always polite and respectful.

But why would teachers want this kind of student? Possibly, they desire the perfect student because of convenience or because they want the exact answers to their questions. However, if they were teaching for the students to truly learn, they would encourage students to have their own opinions because this would produce prolific insight.

If everyone always agrees in class, and no one speaks up with a different opinion, then no one will learn anything. There will be no new thoughts brought to the table and the lessons will be purely factual — no one will learn anything.

This idea of a model student is disturbing because by making this a goal to pressure students to attain, it crushes the students individuality and their own creative expression, which is invaluable to their own development and the development of the classroom. There have even studies to prove that as students enter school, their own ability to think for themselves decreases dramatically.

“The Torrance Tests of Creative Thinking judge originality, emotional expressiveness, humor, intellectual vitality, open-mindedness, and ability to synthesize and elaborate on ideas. Since 1984, the scores of America’s schoolchildren have dropped by more than one standard deviation; that is to say, 85 percent of kids scored lower in 2008 than their counterparts did in 1984. Not coincidentally, that decrease happened as schools were becoming obsessed with self-regulation,” said Elizabeth Weil, according to a Slate article.

We don’t want a generation incapable of thinking individually. This will dramatically decrease the success that our generation will experience.

The most successful people are not those that have conformed to being the model student — they have thought outside the box. And by doing this, they came up with something that no one else had ever formulated that spurred their success.

Robert Orben, a comedy author, said, “A graduation ceremony is an event where the commencement speaker tells thousands of students dressed in identical caps and gowns that ‘individuality’ is the key to success.”

Orben wholly encompasses the hypocrisy of the American education system: the way teachers verbally encourage our “individuality” as means to help us succeed, while tearing us down for having our own thoughts and opinions. This hypocrisy is lethal to the educational prosperity of our generation, and it sends us mixed messages.

Teachers want us to succeed, and they want us to conform for our own good because they believe that our conformity will allow us to prosper in the real world, but they forget to teach us how to live life. By pressuring us to line up with the model student, they inadvertently take away our passions, quirks and some “less desirable” personality traits. Our character and our personality are being stolen for a carbon copy of an education.

“I do wish authority figures had taken the time to remind us that life isn’t only—only—about buckling down and getting things done. It is also about passion and inspiration, two untrammeled furies that resist a lot of self-regulation,” said Katy Waldman in her Slate article.

It is a huge concern that school’s encouragement of assimilation to norms will incite a lack of individual creativity and thought, but there is an even bigger concern — the loss of the spirit of students. Individual personalities are the essentialities of humanity, and the school system is crossing the line when they attempt to take those away.


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