Motivating Students, or Why Big Bird Must Die

Regardless of ideological pedigree, today's educational reforms all share a common theme: students themselves are not responsible for their dreadful academic performance. The model is intravenous feeding: the student will arrive and passively be "fed" knowledge, so progress is just a question of discovering the right insertion techniques. This approach, of course, guarantees failure since nothing will succeed if students just don't care.      This vision is ubiquitous among professional educators, but there may be a crack in this façade. Robert Samuelson, a well-read economist (the Washington Post and elsewhere) has openly expressed the unspeakable, at least among professional educators: insufficient motivation may explain poor academic performance. Ironically, though nearly all teachers and parents know this, Samuelson calls it "almost unmentionable." Now that Samuelson has let the cat out of the bag, even Thomas Friedman of the New...(Read Full Article)