Thomas Friedman of the NYT says about America, “We’re No. 1(1)!”–Number 11, that is–and he quotes Washington Post columnist Robert Samuelson on the condition of education in this country:
“The larger cause of failure is almost unmentionable: shrunken student motivation,” wrote Samuelson. “Students, after all, have to do the work. If they aren’t motivated, even capable teachers may fail. Motivation comes from many sources: curiosity and ambition; parental expectations; the desire to get into a ‘good’ college; inspiring or intimidating teachers; peer pressure. The unstated assumption of much school ‘reform’ is that if students aren’t motivated, it’s mainly the fault of schools and teachers.” Wrong, he said. “Motivation is weak because more students (of all races and economic classes, let it be added) don’t like school, don’t work hard and don’t do well. In a 2008 survey of public high school teachers, 21 percent judged student absenteeism a serious problem; 29 percent cited ‘student apathy.’ ”
A while ago, on local teachers’ first day back on duty this school year, I posted an Onion “panel discussion” about how unfair life is for “students who don’t give a shit.” If you haven’t seen that clip yet, here it is again.