There is a student that sits at the back of our class, he sits slouched with his legs wide open, legs dangling, slouched back and cap backwards; he likes to shout over whatever the tutor says, Enfield fans might call him ‘a Kevin’. There is something about him that you wouldn’t tell him in front of his peers, but deep down he’s not very confident. I know he’s having trouble getting to grips with the material, I also know that if he really listened and put his mind to it then he could get through the class with no issues. There is a problem in getting through to him, I’m pretty sure that telling him that his cocky attitude is a sign of insecurity is not the way to tackle this. Another horrible way to deal with this kid would be to tell him that he can’t cope with the course material, that he is a failure and that he will have to leave this particular module and try another one. This is what the University will do with him. From experience I can be near certain that this will result in him amplifying his behaviour, he’ll be worse for the next tutor, put on more of a front on and resist the course material even harder. It’s easier for him to resist it because if he doesn’t understand it then it won’t lose face because he never tried in the first place. Telling him that he can’t cope with the course material and that he is a failure is exactly what the system will do, but we happily give him another module that he can pay to fail. I can identify with the student, it is so much easier to pretend you don’t care, it doesn’t matter if your no good at something if you don’t care about it.
I want to help the student without him knowing; I want to show him that he is good at things and that this coursework is beneath him but I know that heading in guns blazing isn’t the way to do it. I think the best thing the University could do is help the student become confident with the things he can do , or perhaps help him reflect on the things he already does. I always wonder how we can help people who feel like this student does to feel confident instead, furthermore how do we recognise the signs in ourselves and turn all energy from something aggressive in to something creative?
A problem may be knowing what exactly creativity is and how the student can reconise it. I don’t think it’s an act of god, a magical bolt that comes down and makes you do something really good. I have a book on my desk recommended by my professor by Arthur Koestler called ‘The Act of Creation’ but I’m resisting reading it. Would knowing what creativity is really be such a good thing? I’ve been following lots of people that I know are doing creative things recently, the common theme, if indeed there is one, seems to be that they are just ‘doing things’. I don’t think the people doing visual note taking, Youtube animations or Tumblr gifs really thought hard about being creative, they are just doing things, perhaps they don’t even see their work the same as I do , maybe we are more creative than we think.
Thinking about ways to help the kid at the back of the class that lives inside us all I wonder if there are ways we can turn the black mirror of laptop, monitor or mobile phone screens to instead reflect back all the creative things we’ve done and give us a confidence boost, prove that the course material really is beneath us.