Each month, the writers at University of Venus share their answers to a question we pose for the higher education sector.
This month’s question comes to us from Denise Horn. Denise has asked us to describe our ideal student and in so doing, we reveal our dreams for the future of education.
Bonnie Stewart (Canada) My ideal student seems to change every few years, as my teaching does. I am slowly learning that the students I appreciate and remember most - even years later - are often the ones who’ve pushed me in directions I didn’t find easy at the time. So while my instinctive response to this is to say that my ideal student is engaged and able to approach complex ideas with enthusiasm - because those are the students who perhaps learn most like me, and whom I find easiest - in hindsight, my ideal student is the one propelling me through my discomfort to a new perspective.
Ana Dinescu (Germany) The ideal student is the one that not only learns from you, but the one with whom you also learn together every day.
Afshan Jafar (US) My ideal student, besides being an engaged and enthusiastic learner, is usually one who is a bit spunky and has a sense of humor. What’s the point of having a class full of students who just want to sit around and take notes? My best classes have been with students who can banter, who are out-spoken, yet aren’t so fixed in their opinions that they feel like they have nothing to learn.
Itir Toksoz (Turkey) My ideal student is one who has a curious and open mind, a hunger for knowledge in several fields, not just her/his own , good communication and self-expression skills, respect for divergent ideas and a sense of social - political and environmental responsibility towards the world in general and the society in particular she/he lives in.
Elizabeth Lewis Pardoe (US) My ideal student is an interested, independent, intellectual risk-taker. Point her towards new terrain, and she sets off to explore. She doesn't seek answers to my questions but searches for new discoveries to share with me.
Anamaria Dutceac (Sweden) She/he is curious, intelligent, engaged, independent, cooperative. She/he has personal initiative but follows instructions. Can communicate her/his ideas orally, visually, and in writing. She/he aims to become a better researcher than the professor. As we all know, the ideal student does not exist.
Meg Palladino (US) Of course my ideal student is bright and curious. But I also like other things in a student: I like them to be unique and a little bit rebellious. Often when I am teaching and there is a student in the back of the room drumming on the desk rather than focusing on the lesson, I would rather be taking that student aside and working with him or her instead of teaching the students in the front who have done their homework and are hanging on my every word. I like a challenge.
Melonie Fullick (Canada) I hate to think of an "ideal" with students because I feel I'm really just projecting an idealised image of myself onto them. With that in mind I think if there were a few things that really help both the student and myself, they would include a strong interest in something (anything!), willingness to do the (sometimes apparently tangential) work to pursue that interest, and openness to new ideas and approaches.
Ernesto Priego (UK) The ideal student is engaged. S/he is open to "the shock of the new". Will carry out independent research; it's her/his passion for the subject matter that drives her/him. Will be critical but respectful, curious and aware that education is an ongoing, endless process, that nobody knows everything at all times. It sounds obvious but the ideal student likes learning; she/he gets bored of conformity.
The ideal students are, if I may say it with the multi-quoted words of Jack Kerouac, "the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn, like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars and in the middle you see the blue center light pop and everybody goes "Awww!”"....
Mary Churchill (US) My favorite students inevitably end up being the difficult students, the relentless naysayers who can always find the opposite point of view in any discussion. These students push me to be a better teacher and add an energy to the class that helps me to keep the rest of the students engaged. I consider them to be my unofficial assistants.
Janni Aragon (Canada) My ideal student is a student who shows up to class ready to participate and comes to office hours. This student has questions and wants to learn and has a sense of owning her/his education. This student is engaged and wants to be in university. This student does not have to be an A or B student--s/he just has to care.
Liana Silva (US) If I had an ideal student it would be a student for whom the grade isn’t the ultimate goal. In other words, my ideal student is someone who is interested in learning, in reading, in asking (and answering) questions; someone who wants to go beyond what they know today.
What about you? What qualities does your ideal student possess?