What Are Your Students Like?
What are you like eh?
More to the point, what are your class like?
Jean Rudduck and Julia Flutter in their book Consulting Pupils: What’s in it for schools? divide pupils into four main groups as follows:
- Passive positive (accepting)
- Active positive (influencing)
- Passive negative (indifferent)
- Active negative (rejecting)
If you work in a school where most of the children are passive positive then you probably think you have it made. To a large extent you have because pupils turn up for school and they do what they are told. They trust school to deliver a future. It’s a ‘safe’ teaching world.
The problem is, we can’t just have a world of passive positives as there is a tendency for the ‘accepting’ to get walked all over.
We need students to be punchy learners (not physically!) and be active participants. These sorts of pupils can influence their own destinies, stand up for themselves and challenge back. They ask for feedback, ask questions, help others and take responsibility. If you’ve got students like that in your school then you are lucky.
But teaching passive and active negative students is tough. Passive negative students mistrust school and teachers, they won’t engage with help, don’t look ahead and won’t really care about their lack of progress.
The toughest to teach are not surprisingly active negative students because they have their hands firmly pressed on the reject button. They engage in anti-social behaviour and are skilled at disrupting teaching and learning. They refuse codes of conduct, attend when they want to, they are frequently on report and have exclusion hanging over them all.
So who would you rather teach?
The positive-active student is the sort of pupil schools want and as Rudduck states,
“And looking to life beyond school, employers seem to be valuing similar qualities: a capacity for independent initiative, working collaboratively, and competence in the management of time and task.”