News Columns & Blogs

Are students the problem?

Teachers get blamed for underperforming schools, but columnist Robert Samuelson wrote that "the larger cause of failure is almost unmentionable: shrunken student motivation." Teachers also get blamed for this lack of motivation, but Samuelson argued that "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." Columnist Thomas Friedman agreed and linked this lack of motivation to a larger cultural problem: "We had a values breakdown — a national epidemic of get-rich-quickism and something-for-nothingism." Meanwhile, Friedman argued, China and India are catching up to America because they are more willing "to postpone gratification, invest for the future, work harder than the next guy and hold their kids to the highest expectations."