Do American Students Bring Down the Curve?

December 22, 2009

"My Lazy American Students," an op-ed in The Boston Globe, is attracting considerable online debate. The piece -- by Kara Miller, who teaches history and rhetoric at Babson College -- compares her American and foreign students. "My 'C,' 'D,' and 'F' students this semester are almost exclusively American, while my students from India, China, and Latin America have -- despite language barriers -- generally written solid papers, excelled on exams, and become valuable class participants," writes Miller. She compares the way her foreign students listen to everything she says, while "[t]oo many 18-year-old Americans, meanwhile, text one another under their desks (certain they are sly enough to go unnoticed), check e-mail, decline to take notes, and appear tired and disengaged." Reader reactions vary widely. Some credit Miller with drawing attention to a real problem. Others say she doesn't understand higher education. Wrote one commenter: "Sorry, teach, but our American kids know that college is for boozing, drugs and hooking up. They'll start working hard when it matters -- the day they get their first job."

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