Editorial: Teachers’ Pets

What is a teacher’s pet? We all think we’ve seen them before. They’re the kids the teacher picks to answer the questions in class all of the time; the ones who always are obnoxiously polite to the teachers; the ones that they never scold. They’re always smart, and always seem to go above and beyond on class assignments. This is a position that is at once envied and shunned in our society.

Now, on the one hand, why does it matter if the teacher has a favorite student? If they get something wrong on a test, they’re going to get it wrong whether or not the teacher likes them or not. Maybe we don’t like them because they’re receiving constant approval and we’re not. It can be less than beneficial for our self-esteem when a teacher clearly favors someone else.

On the other end of the spectrum, you have  the kids that never seem to know the answers when they are called on, and seem to always be having talks with the teacher about their scores on a test. We assume that these struggling students, unless they are a close friend, must not be trying hard enough. We never stop to consider that the teacher might be trying to help the student, or that the student is trying as hard as he or she possibly can. It’s automatically assumed that they always space out in class and skip school to go to the mall. Why do we judge a struggling student in this way? Is it because we want to think of ourselves as a better student than them, especially since we may feel inferior to the teacher’s pet?

Then, at the third, far off corner of the spectrum, are the kids who know the answers when called on and get good grades, yet are still yelled at and pushed harder by the teacher. But before we jump to just assuming that the teacher hates that student, the teacher picks on this student and pushes him or her because they want this student to be the best. By yelling at the student, they make the student want to try as hard as they can and harder to make the teacher happy. We would know this due to experience of one of us editors. This editor actually went through this and was upset with how they were treated, but kept working harder and harder and isn’t pushed as hard due to the effort he puts in.

In school, there can be little acceptance of all three  kinds of people. The student who is labeled as the teacher’s pet is at once envied and despised. The student who struggles might be disregarded and occasionally pitied. The student who tries hard in school yet is still pushed harder is usually struggles with juggling social and academic pressure. Many people will fail to recognize what these people are going through, and often will judge them. It’s an awful thing to judge people by how they perform academically, or the way they interact with the teachers. In a social setting, there’s no excuse for excluding someone from a conversation due to their intelligence.

Now, other students may also place judgement on the teachers for showing favoritism. Now, when it comes down to it, what one has to realize is that teachers are human beings, and they have students that they like, and students that they find more difficult to teach. It may not be right, but one can hardly blame the person for being occasionally aggravated with a student. They also have to do their job, and their job is to help all  students if they’re struggling. Yes, it will occasionally make someone feel left out, or like we’re not as good as someone else. You just have to realize that it is often  unintentional on the teacher’s part, and you shouldn’t take it out on someone else.

It seems. Equality is one of the Quaker testimonies.  It only follows that  teachers should do the same with all their students. As middle schoolers most of us know how to pick up social cues from our classmate when they don’t like us or are mistreating us. The cues  that teachers end up giving kids are often harder to read but just as hurtful.  When one thinks about the Middle School power dynamic, teachers are not usually included.  Given the unavoidable issue of  teacher favoritism, perhaps both teachers and students should give this issue more thought. How do we avoid being part of this unavoidable power stuggle? We can’t.

~ The Corner Editorial Board 2012-13