Star Pupil

Discussion in 'English Only' started by Goaty, May 28, 2006.

  1. Goaty New Member

    Italian / Italy
    What exactly does "star pupil" stand for?
    For example, in a sentence like "He put all his energy into being a star pupil." where "he" is an Art College student.
  2. coconutpalm

    coconutpalm Senior Member

    Shanghai, China
    I think it refers to grade A student.
    But why do you use the word "pupil"? He is a college student, not studying in the primary school. Is it appropriate? Or it's because he is studying art?
  3. Goaty New Member

    Italian / Italy
    I found this sentence in a British novel. It's the first time I stumble into "Star pupil" and I didn't know its meaning. I'm still not 100% sure about the way it's used in the novel
  4. mjscott Senior Member

    I think there's not as much concern over using pupil over student in AE as there is in other countries. The sense of pupil over student is that there is a mentorship, or apprenticeship in what you are learning, when it is referred in the higher grades.

    A star pupil is an exemplary student who not only tries his best, but also accomplishes it--the student who ends up the best in class.
  5. Goaty New Member

    Italian / Italy
    MJSCOTT: this definitively makes sense and 100% fits in the general context - thank you very much
  6. foxfirebrand

    foxfirebrand Senior Member

    The Northern Rockies
    Southern AE greatly modified by a 1st-generation Scottish-American mother, and growing up abroad.
    The expression comes from the practice in American primary schools (gradeschools) of the 50s and 60s of awarding little star-shaped stickers for good conduct or correct answers. A chart with the names of the students in the class was posted on the bulletin board, and each time one of them did something worth a "brownie point" (a derogatory term used by people who don't get tokens of merit) a star went up beside his/her name. Most schools had a color code, where the gold star was the highest and most excellently esteemed.

    Kids with long rows of these stars by their names were called whiz kids, star pupils or teacher's pets.

    "Teacher's pet" is derogatory, a taunting word-- and the positive expressions were often used with irony.
  7. emma42 Senior Member

    North East USA
    British English
    Just for information, stars are still used in English primary schools, along with lots of other merit awards or symbols.
  8. One of my men friends, in his late sixties, had to have some minor surgery performed under local anaesthetic. After the nurse had sutured the wound she said to him, "You didn't complain once, you are my star patient."

    "In that case, please may I have a sticker?" he asked. (He's a terrible flirt!)

    Would you believe he came home proudly wearing a sticker on his jacket which proclaimed, "I was good for the Nurse". "Look at that," he said to me, "I still have what it takes to please the ladies!" (He was pointing at his sticker by the way.) :D :D :D

  9. daoxunchang Senior Member

    Chinese China
    What you have said is much like what we practise in our kindergarten and primary schools.
  10. foxfirebrand

    foxfirebrand Senior Member

    The Northern Rockies
    Southern AE greatly modified by a 1st-generation Scottish-American mother, and growing up abroad.
    I'm glad to hear the "star stystem" is still in use in some places around the world. Political Correctitude has "eaten the homework" in our system, sadly. If you single out the excellence of some for special recognition and praise, it seems you make those who've performed poorly feel bad, and that impacts "self-esteem," which as we all know is a divine spark whose fragility has to be nurtured. Those who have behavioral problems or are cursed with malice and hostility toward oh, let's say teachers-- they are the ones who require special care. I they can't have a star, then nobody can.

    Graduating classes no longer have valedictorians in the average American public (free, mandatory, government-run) school-- too much pernicious effect on the "self-esteem" of those who for some reason, after 12 years in one of these prisonlike Institutions-- have none.

    I say "for some reason" because it's all an unfathomable mystery to the intellectually-challenged bureaucratic mentality of those who run the schools. If you praise good behavior and excellent performance-- those qualities tend to increase and abound. The incidence of accomplishment, sometimes against great odds or entailing triumph over handicaps, grows more frequent-- and accomplishment is the source of self-esteem.

    Those who have removed the stars, for the sake of people who don't aspire, ought to be motivating those people to try harder-- not salving the "self-esteem" they in fact haven't got yet. American public schools seem designed to "dumb down" everyone, and what results is a shallow, demanding and unambitious generation of children with undeveloped personalities, a mass as homogenous as sausage. And increasing numbers of them are legally drug-dependent on Ritalin and other substances that have been developed to numb the emotional and behavioral disorders created by the schooling experience.

    Strange coincidence, that passive, dependent, ignorant and undiscriminating people who crave and demand gratification and are materialistic and acquisitive to the marrow-- are the ideal population required for an economy based on consumption rather than production. "Graduates" of such a system end up stuck in meaningless jobs involving the distribution of imported goods designed to kill leisure time. A culture whose credo seems to be "Life's a bitch, and then you die."

    A rant from someone who was always an inveterate "star pupil," and for that reason hopefully "on-topic."
  11. maxiogee Banned

    Self-esteem is best nurtured by the self.
    In other words, if they want self-esteem let them do something which they can esteem; and if they want a star, let them earn them like we did!
    Feck it, my first teacher was soooo lazy we had to lick our own stars:confused: :cool: :rolleyes: ! She just handed them to us to stick on our work ourselves.
  12. There is no harm in introducing "star/sticker" charts into the home to encourage good behaviour in children.

    My two sons were typical of small boys - noisy, messy, untidy, etc.

    I put up a star chart to reward good behaviour. So great was their sibling rivalry that they managed to stay neck and neck most of the time and the house became tidier and more peaceful (until the novelty wore off)!

  13. scotu Senior Member

    Paradise: LaX.Nay.Mex.
    Chicago English
    Not so unfathomable if you realize that all teachers who attended public educational colleges took a course called "The Philosophy of Education" This course indoctrinated future teachers into the philosophy that a democracy requires a population that is basically average; that people whose heads stick up too far above the crowd will not be well socialized and are therefore doomed to an unhappy life. In order to achieve this objective, a teacher must concentrate on the slow learners. The dumbing down of the fast learners is not an incidental consequence of concentrating on the sow learners, it is a interim objective towards the ultimate goal of having a 100% average graduating class. Don't knock it; this educational system is responsible for creating the world class American middle class which the average American believes is the envy of the rest of world.
  14. PaigeS Member

    English, US
    Quoting scotu: "Don't knock it; this educational system is responsible for creating the world class American middle class which the average American believes is the envy of the rest of world."

    That's a very Brave New World way of looking at it. Now, lets all take our soma/prozac/ritalin and suppress our desires to be the recipients of little gold stars.
  15. Joelline

    Joelline Senior Member

    USA (W. Pennsylvania)
    American English
    The worst part of our no-star educational system is that we have convinced the students that they deserve to be esteemed and rewarded for minimal efforts. By the time I see them in a freshman college class, their self-esteem is sky-high! They truly believe that every incoherent, illogical, unsupported, ungrammatical thought that they put down on paper is worthy of praise.

    I have given up grading their first papers (the shock might kill them) or using a red pen ("the paper looks like it is bleeding to death"). I make sure I say something complimentary about the worst of papers ("very nice margins, Paul!)! But by the third week of the course, they realize that, despite all of this window-dressing, they cannot pass the course if they do not learn. Then, they go home and tell their mommies. Mommy calls me (!) and I then thank God for the Buckley Amendment which forbids me to discuss any confidential information with third-parties--including parents.

    I am happy to report that by the end of the term at least 75% will manage to learn enough to pass my course; 3-5% will get the college equivalent of a gold star: an A+!
  16. cuchuflete

    cuchuflete Senior Member

    Maine, EEUU
    But how can self-esteem be properly cared for unless at least 88% of students in a class are ranked "above average"?

    Could it be that star pupils are only those that study astronomy?
  17. cuchuflete

    cuchuflete Senior Member

    Maine, EEUU
    There is another side to the quest for the divine average. I was once reprimanded by the registrar of an elite university. Why? He took exception to the frequency distribution curve of the students' grades I was handing in at the end of a semester.

    This was a long time ago, but my memory is that there were five As, two Cs, and a failing grade. He pushed me for an explanation. I told him that I had announced on the first day of class that grades would reflect learning, and not the quantity of knowledge possessed on the first or last day of the class, but the increment achieved in the interval between those days. He had trouble grasping what I was trying to convey. I tried again:

    Me: This is an institution of learning, right?
    Him: Yes, but....
    Me: So the grades reflect how much learning took place.
    Him: Ohhhhhhhhh!

    The concept was apparently too novel for that institution, which soon after adopted, along with most other US schools of "higher learning", a fervent grade inflation policy.
  18. Brioche

    Brioche Senior Member

    Australia English
    I know this is degenerating into chat, but I suppose they still keep score in the High School Basketball, Baseball, and especially Football - with lots of praise for the winning team, and star players.:D

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