Is there such a thing as a student that is unteachable?
My immediate, almost instinctive reaction was, "Of course not!"
But after thinking about it for a few moments...I wonder.
Here's my tentative, pretty-sure-for-now-but-open-to-revision response:
That's a fascinating question! I've had a few over the years who definitely seemed to be fighting against learning, but I'm not sure that's the same as unteachable. I do think that there are some students who will, despite the teacher's best efforts and intentions, fail to learn. To what, exactly, this can and should be attributed...I am not so certain. Is it the methods being used? Is it the student's (lack of) readiness to learn or background knowledge? Is it a developmental issue? I think there is some content that some students will simply never master, no matter how it is presented to them.
I do think that how we teach matters, and that there are better (more effective?) and worse (less effective?) methods for helping students understand a concept. But I am always quick to check myself when students aren't learning. Is there something I could do differently to help them? Am I the one standing in the way of their learning?
When it comes down to it, I do think there are times when students will dig in their metaphorical heels and refuse to do the work of learning. I suppose in that case I would think of them as being "unteachable."
What do you think? Are some students unteachable? If so, under what conditions? And what can we do about it? And if not...why do some students fail to learn?