Most American students are lazy and lack basic knowledge, writes Kara Miller, a Babson College professor of rhetoric and history, in the Boston Globe.
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.
One girl from Shanghai became a fixture at office hours, embraced our college writing center, and incessantly e-mailed me questions about her evolving papers. Her English is still mediocre: she frequently puts “the’’ everywhere (as in “the leader supported the feminism and the environmentalism’’) and confuses “his’’ and “her.’’ But that didn’t stop her from doing rewrite after rewrite, tirelessly trying to improve both structure and grammar.
Undergrads from China have the strongest work ethic, Miller writes, but she’s also been impressed by students from India, Thailand, Brazil, and Venezuela. They struggle with English, but they’re carried forward by their respect for professors and for knowledge.
By contrast, many of her American students “appear tired and disengaged.” While the best U.S. students are knowledgeable and innovative, too many lack the basics. “We’ve got a knowledge gap, spurred by a work-ethic gap,” Miller writes.