American students are depressed, lazy and not learning very much, writes John Tierney on James Fallows’ Atlantic blog. Tierney cites a raft of recent studies as well as years of experience as a college professor and now as a high school teacher.
I teach at an “elite” (effete?) independent school for girls in the Boston area. . . . Some of the students I teach work really hard.
. . . But, my sense is that most of the students at this school spend enormous amounts of time watching television, checking out Facebook, and otherwise engaging in totally unproductive activity. They certainly don’t read anything! In fact, I would say that the number one problem in contemporary American education is that students do not read enough. Their reading comprehension is horrible. Their vocabularies are impoverished. They cannot talk about anything outside their own closed little worlds.
In a follow-up, Tierney quotes an e-mail from a “beloved and prominent professor at a small liberal-arts college in New England,” who writes:
You know, I have a special place in my heart for our [Asian] students, who exhibit few of the troublesome traits you lament. The American students are nice kids, and I like them, but I don’t respect them. I guess that’s the thing.
There are intellectually curious, well-read and hard-working students out there, Tierney concedes. But he doesn’t think they’re the norm.