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Old 09 Mar 2006, 03:34 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Blame the Students

For once, blame the student By Patrick Welsh
Wed Mar 8, 7:08 AM ET



Failure in the classroom is often tied to lack of funding, poor teachers or other ills. Here's a thought: Maybe it's the failed work ethic of todays kids. That's what I'm seeing in my school. Until reformers see this reality, little will change.


Last month, as I averaged the second-quarter grades for my senior English classes at T.C. Williams High School in Alexandria, Va., the same familiar pattern leapt out at me.


Kids who had emigrated from foreign countries - such as Shewit Giovanni from Ethiopia, Farah Ali from Guyana and Edgar Awumey from Ghana - often aced every test, while many of their U.S.-born classmates from upper-class homes with highly educated parents had a string of C's and D's.


As one would expect, the middle-class American kids usually had higher SAT verbal scores than did their immigrant classmates, many of whom had only been speaking English for a few years.


What many of the American kids I taught did not have was the motivation, self-discipline or work ethic of the foreign-born kids.


Politicians and education bureaucrats can talk all they want about reform, but until the work ethic of U.S. students changes, until they are willing to put in the time and effort to master their subjects, little will change.


A study released in December by University of Pennsylvania researchers Angela Duckworth and Martin Seligman suggests that the reason so many U.S. students are "falling short of their intellectual potential" is not "inadequate teachers, boring textbooks and large class sizes" and the rest of the usual litany cited by the so-called reformers - but "their failure to exercise self-discipline."


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. The groundbreaking work of Harold Stevenson and a multinational team at the University of Michigan comparing attitudes of Asian and American students sounded the alarm more than a decade ago.


Asian vs. U.S. students


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."


As my colleague Ed Cannon puts it: "Today, the teacher is supposed to be responsible for motivating the kid. If they don't learn it is supposed to be our problem, not theirs."


And, of course, busy parents guilt-ridden over the little time they spend with their kids are big subscribers to this theory.


Maybe every generation of kids has wanted to take it easy, but until the past few decades students were not allowed to get away with it. "Nowadays, it's the kids who have the power. When they don't do the work and get lower grades, they scream and yell. Parents side with the kids who pressure teachers to lower standards," says Joel Kaplan, another chemistry teacher at T.C. Williams.


Every year, I have had parents come in to argue about the grades I have given in my AP English classes. To me, my grades are far too generous; to middle-class parents, they are often an affront to their sense of entitlement. If their kids do a modicum of work, many parents expect them to get at least a B. When I have given C's or D's to bright middle-class kids who have done poor or mediocre work, some parents have accused me of destroying their children's futures.


It is not only parents, however, who are siding with students in their attempts to get out of hard work.


Blame schools, too

"Schools play into it," says psychiatrist Lawrence Brain, who counsels affluent teenagers throughout the Washington metropolitan area. "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."

Neither the high-stakes state exams, such as Virginia's Standards of Learning, nor the requirements of the No Child Left Behind Act have succeeded in changing that message; both have turned into minimum-competency requirements aimed at the lowest in our school.

Colleges keep complaining that students are coming to them unprepared. Instead of raising admissions standards, however, they keep accepting mediocre students lest cuts have to be made in faculty and administration.

As a teacher, I don't object to the heightened standards required of educators in the No Child Left Behind law. Who among us would say we couldn't do a little better? Nonetheless, teachers have no control over student motivation and ambition, which have to come from the home - and from within each student.

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.

Patrick Welsh is an English teacher at T.C. Williams High School in Alexandria, Va., and a member of USA TODAY's board of contributors.




Copyright © 2006 USA TODAY, a division of Gannett Co. Inc.


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Interesting Op/Ed piece I read just now, just wanted to pass it on.
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Old 09 Mar 2006, 03:36 PM   #2 (permalink)
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You can't pee into a Mr. Coffee and get Tasters Choice.

If students (read: overpriviliged little bastards) don't take advantage of the educational system, it is their own fault.
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Old 09 Mar 2006, 03:44 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Thank god. We arn't failing because of poor schooling and poor technology, we are failing because we are fuckin lazy.

I'm glad someone finally got it.
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Old 09 Mar 2006, 03:47 PM   #4 (permalink)
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I ride my 5 year old about his homework from Kindergarten. Too many parents don't even care about it. I remember going into my first Parent Teacher Conference, the teacher spent half the time thanking the wife and I for our involvement in our son's education.

A few comments she'd made about other kids led me to believe that the time we spend with our oldest on his homework and with both of our kids on reading, numbers and comprehension are miles more than what most parents do these days.

Makes me sick. Those people still have the nerve to say they love their kids but they can't be bothered to go over their homework or even ask them what they are studying in school. It'd certainly be a lot easier not to go over my son's homework with him, but I will not raise a dumbass.

But that's just me.

BTW...in America we spend more money per student on education than any other country on this planet. Our schools aren't underfunded, it's just that the people who make decisions regarding how the funding is spent are retards and should be shot in the streets.



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Old 09 Mar 2006, 03:52 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by The Glue
BTW...in America we spend more money per student on education than any other country on this planet. Our schools aren't underfunded, it's just that the people who make decisions regarding how the funding is spent are retards and should be shot in the streets.



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Half of it is lost in administrational salaries.

Glue... when I started school I already knew how to read at a higher level than most second graders because my parents took the time to teach me. You should be proud of what you're doing, cause your kid is going to be miles ahead for the rest of his academic life.

It's parental involvement to a great degree.
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Old 09 Mar 2006, 04:10 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Emperor Norton I
Half of it is lost in administrational salaries.

Glue... when I started school I already knew how to read at a higher level than most second graders because my parents took the time to teach me. You should be proud of what you're doing, cause your kid is going to be miles ahead for the rest of his academic life.

It's parental involvement to a great degree.
I could read at a HS level in the 3rd grade.
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Old 09 Mar 2006, 06:00 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Reason #47 a that I don't want kids: I already went through school, and if I have a kid, that means that to a degree, I'll have to go through it again


If I ever do have a kid, I'd probably end up raising a moron
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Old 09 Mar 2006, 09:36 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by STICK
Reason #47 a that I don't want kids: I already went through school, and if I have a kid, that means that to a degree, I'll have to go through it again


If I ever do have a kid, I'd probably end up raising a moron
Don't rule out the possiblity that your kid may be a genius that doesn't require your help with homework...

Besides, the main thing is to make sure that your kid keeps up with their studies away from class. That doesn't mean you have to study it with the kid, necessarily.



Late.
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Old 09 Mar 2006, 09:50 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Francis Begbie
Don't rule out the possiblity that your kid may be a genius that doesn't require your help with homework...

Besides, the main thing is to make sure that your kid keeps up with their studies away from class. That doesn't mean you have to study it with the kid, necessarily.



Late.
Well, I doubt my genes could produce a kid genius

Anyways, notice that was reason #47 a. I got a whole slew of other reasons that I don't want a kid
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Old 09 Mar 2006, 11:35 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by STICK
Well, I doubt my genes could produce a kid genius

Anyways, notice that was reason #47 a. I got a whole slew of other reasons that I don't want a kid
Hey man...I was just saying if you did...I always highly recommend to people who don't want kids, do not have kids.

Genius isn't necessarily genetic.

Late.
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Old 10 Mar 2006, 10:52 AM   #11 (permalink)
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I'm not lazy. But, I'm not failing.

This article is fact.
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Old 03 Apr 2006, 04:06 PM   #12 (permalink)
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Glue, I wanted to encourage you to continue to stay involved in your kids education, it makes a world of difference and your kids will appreciate it later.

Stick, your right about going through school twice and because that is about how most people think today most parents don't even ask if kids have homework.

One teacher told me that a mother of an elementary school student signed the student up in an after school reading program because "its you stupid teachers that get paid to teach her, so start doing your job."

Also, I just want to add what a difference home instruction made between me and my sibilings. When I started school my mom made it like this great thing I was given the opportunity to do. She was always proud when my letters I wrote got hearts around them for being very neat. She helped my learn how to read. She had me memorize the whole multiplication table from 0x0 to 12x12 before 2nd grade. She made me memorize most of the periodic table before 3rd grade. Twice in my school career teachers asked my mother permission to bump me ahead two grades. She would spank me if I got B's on my report card, and any papers she found blank in my pack got me 1. I had to do the paper, and 2. I got whipped for not having it done for the teacher. So, I did my homework at school and only had my mom checking it by the time I was in 3rd grade, and by the time I was in 6th grade I didn't need parental guidance anymore... I got straight As of my own accord without supervision of any kind. I graduated with honors in the top ten percent of my class, and I am in my sophomore year of college. (but I had an usual enjoyment of having work to do... ie... I am a work-a-holic)

Now, my mother only acted like this to me... I was her little genious or something, Adam (my first younger brother) was dislessic (sp?) and hyper active, so he gave her so much trouble with school, and she had to help me and him together and it was easier to help me because I didn't have any learning disabilities. So, Adam was given too much slack about what he could get away with because he was LD, and now he is a third year senior, two time drop out, struggling to pull the pieces together to graduate.

My next brother was smart like me so, my mom made me help him with everything so he got second hand help from a student two grades higher than he was, but he had no disabilities and was held to the same standard of education as I was except he never got in trouble for Bs. He is an average student who will graduate a year ahead of his older brother this june.

By the time my youngest brother, cody came around... my mother and father's marriage had gone to the seventh layer of hell, my mother was so depressed she wouldn't even cook for us... let alone help someone with homework. Cody flunked first grade because he couldn't write or read well enough... then he flunked 6th grade because he refused to do any work at all... now he is struggling to not feel over burdened by the fact that he will be 20 when and if he graduates.He still has more than poor study habits and even less work ethic. But now that he is living with me like he is my kid... I have started instilling better work habits, also I have a no tolerance policy for missed homework or failure to do class work. Being that he is so poor at even remembering he has homework... the teachers and I have started a dialogue notebook which tells me cody's classroom behavior, and rather or not he has homework and what his homework is.

It sucks because I do feel like I am doing middle school homework all the time...and its hard when I get frustrated because I just wish I could do the worksheets or read the books for him... cause it would be easier than making him do it...

But learning how to learn is what kids need. That is really the only thing you have to teach them... You have to get it into them when they are young. "This is how you learn and get used to it because how well you can do this is how well you will do in life."

So, as for the topic, I think Parents and ONLY PARENTS can be held responsible for how their kids are in school. If parents don't like their childrens school performance based on whatever reason, it is their responsibilty to teach their children how to work within whatever educational system they are in. Some parents will teach their children how to skate by... others how to be disrespectful and unrepsonsive to educators... and other how to study hard and work for whatever it is they want. This Article is a sad fact of the changing american education. NO ONE wants to be held responsible for laziness.
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Old 04 Apr 2006, 08:27 PM   #13 (permalink)
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I can tell you that I joined the Navy because I was too stupid to go to college. None of that had anything to do with a teacher.
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