Students Don’t Work

and that’s why their grades are poor, says Patrick Welsh, a teacher from Virginia, in this USA Today article. “The sad fact is that in the USA, hard work on the part of students is no longer seen as a key factor in academic success.”

When asked to identify the most important factors in their performance in math, the percentage of Japanese and Taiwanese students who answered “studying hard” was twice that of American students.

American students named native intelligence, and some said the home environment. But a clear majority of U.S. students put the responsibility on their teachers. A good teacher, they said, was the determining factor in how well they did in math.

“Kids have convinced parents that it is the teacher or the system that is the problem, not their own lack of effort,” says Dave Roscher, a chemistry teacher at T.C. Williams in this Washington suburb. “In my day, parents didn’t listen when kids complained about teachers. We are supposed to miraculously make kids learn even though they are not working.”

“I’ve been amazed to see how easy it is for kids in public schools to manipulate guidance counselors to get them out of classes they don’t like. They have been sent a message that they don’t have to struggle to achieve if things are not perfect.”

There is nothing in those quotes that I disagree with. But this quote leaves me less satisfied.

Perhaps the best lesson I can pass along to my upper- and middle-class students is to merely point them in the direction of their foreign-born classmates, who can remind us all that education in America is still more a privilege than a right.

I have several foreign born students. Most of them are not doing a good job. They have come to the US specifically for an education and yet they are not getting one. They don’t come to class regularly. They’re late. They don’t turn in their assignments. I have three students who were born in other countries but grew up in the US. They work hard. But the ones who are coming here for an education are really poor students.

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