Saturday, September 11, 2010

We are number 11

I highly recommend this excerpt from the column by Thomas Friedman of the NYT, Sept 11,quoting Washington Post economics columnist Robert Samuelson. "Why, he asked, have we spent so much money on school reform in America and have so little to show for it in terms of scalable solutions that produce better student test scores? Maybe, he answered, it is not just because of bad teachers, weak principals or selfish unions."

“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.’ ”
An economist by the name of David McClelland wrote a book years ago containing his case for explaining Differential economic development among nations. It was called "Achievement Motivation."


The Arthurian said...

Hello, Eleven, good post.

I tend to think that if the economy was better, then when students looked around they would see opportunity out there, and then maybe they'd work a little harder on their schoolwork.

And then there is the two-parents-working thing. In this economy, it has to be done. But it has to impact the attitude and experience of the offspring, too.


Allan Schmid said...

Years ago an economist by the name of McClelland? who wrote a book "Achievement Motivation" arguing that parental inspiration of motivation was key to differential rates of economic development.