February 2009
Vol 6 No 2

Current Issue » Cover Page Cover Story Harry & Rosemary Wong Columns Articles Features
Back Issues
Teachers.Net Gazette Vol.6 No.2 February 2009

Cover Story by Alfie Kohn
Why Self-Discipline Is Overrated: The (Troubling) Theory and Practice of Control from Within
To inquire into what underlies the idea of self-discipline is to uncover serious misconceptions about motivation and personality, controversial assumptions about human nature, and disturbing implications regarding how things are arranged in a classroom or a society.

Harry & Rosemary Wong: Effective Teaching
To Be an Effective Teacher
Simply Copy and Paste

»Do You Have a Student Teacher?Hal Portner
»Test-taking Skills Made EasySue Gruber
»Teaching Children Refusal SkillsLeah Davies
»How to Be ConsistentMarvin Marshall
»The Busy Educator's Monthly FiveMarjan Glavac
»Dear Barbara - Advice for SubsBarbara Pressman
»What Side of the Box are YOU On?Kioni Carter
»Global Travel GuruJosette Bonafino

»Teacher Study Groups: Taking the “Risk” out of “At-Risk”Bill Page
»Can Anyone Learn to Draw?Tim Newlin
»The Heart of Mathematical ThinkingLaura Candler
»Finding Free Art Materials in Your CommunityMarilyn J. Brackney
»The Downside of Good Test ScoresAlan Haskvitz
»February 2009 Writing PromptsJames Wayne
»In The Middle School (poem)James Wayne
»Using Photographs To Inspire Writing IVHank Kellner
»Teacher Performance AssessmentPanamalai R. Guruprasad
»How To Help Victims Of Bullying: Advice For Parents & EducatorsKathy Noll
»Unwilling Student Meets Unwavering Teacher Lauren Romano
»Notes from The JungleJohn Price
»Lead the Class - Teachers as Leaders John Sweeting
»Opposing Views of a Post-Racial SocietyRoland Laird
»Who Really Needs Four Years of Math and Science? Steve A. Davidson

»Apple Seeds: Inspiring QuotesBarb Stutesman
»Today Is... Daily CommemorationRon Victoria
»The Lighter Side of Teaching
»Teacher Blogs Showcase
»Carol Goodrow’s “Healthy-Ever-After” Children’s Books
»Printable Worksheets & Teaching Aids
»Memo to the New Secretary of Education and
John Stossel: American students are NOT stupid
»Lessons, Resources and Theme Activities: February 2009
»All of the Presidents in Under 2 Minutes!, Needle Sized Art, I Am a Teacher!, How It’s Made: Copy paper, and If My Nose Was Runnin’ Money
»Live on Teachers.Net: February 2009
»T-Netters Share Favorite Recipes
»Technology in the Art Classroom
»Newsdesk: Events & Opportunities for Teachers


The Teachers.Net Gazette is a collaborative project
published by the Teachers.Net community
Editor in Chief: Kathleen Alape Carpenter
Layout Editor: Mary Miehl

Cover Story by Alfie Kohn

Effective Teaching by Harry & Rosemary Wong

Contributors this month: Alfie Kohn, Sue Gruber, Kioni Carter, Marvin Marshall, , Marjan Glavac, , Hal Portner, Leah Davies, Barbara Pressman, Tim Newlin, Bill Page, James Wayne, Hank Kellner, Josette Bonafino, Marilyn J. Brackney, Barb Stutesman, Ron Victoria, Panamalai R. Guruprasad, Alan Haskvitz, Kathy Noll, Lauren Romano, John Price, John Sweeting, Laura Candler, Roland Laird, Steve A. Davidson, and YENDOR.

Submissions: click for Submission Guidelines

Advertising: contact Bob Reap

Subscribe for free home delivery

IMHO - Educators Speaking Up

Teachers.Net Community

Memo to the New Secretary of Education and
John Stossel: American students are NOT stupid

Teachers.Net Community
Regular Feature in the Gazette

Continued from page 1
February 1, 2008

John Stossel: American students are NOT stupid
Posted by jme on the Teachers.Net Main Chatboard

American students, as a group, are not stupid, American teachers, as a group, are not incompetent, and American schools, as a whole, are not failing, as suggested in the John Stossel article ["Stupid In America" 1/13/06], claiming that American students are stupid because of the incompetence of public schools.

First, remember that John Stossel, for some reason, has a strong bias against public schools and public school teachers, to the extent that his “reports” have gone beyond the line of fairness even for editorials. Remember the job he did on teachers, setting teachers up, portraying the worst of the worst as the norm?

American secondary students tend to score lower on tests than their counterparts in other countries because we are trying to educate all students, not just the top students. It doesn’t matter that they used an “above average” high school in their comparison. To make the comparison fair, we would have to look more closely at the population of the schools. If the top third of the fifteen-year-olds in the other country would be attending that school, then their scores should be compared to the top third of the students in an American school that serves all fifteen-year-olds.

Consider this statistic from the article: “At age ten, American students take an international test and score well above the international average. But by age fifteen, when students from forty countries are tested, the Americans place twenty-fifth. The longer kids stay in American schools, the worse they do in international competition.” I believe that most industrialized countries are educating ten-year-olds in pretty much the same manner. Apples are being compared to apples. However, by age fifteen, in many countries, students are sent off to different kinds of schools, depending largely on their abilities, and in some places, the education ends at that point. Thus, one group being compared has turned to oranges. They’re not comparing the same things.

I do not know which system is better. It is interesting listening to our foreign exchange students. Some say they like everyone being in school together, but they almost all comment that students in their countries value their educational opportunities more because they have to work for them. I do think we should look into allowing our students to pursue vocational interests instead of forcing them all to undertake a college prep curriculum, but that is a separate issue.

I teach in a small school in a rural area that, in general, does not value education, and we have a lot of extremely bright students who have gone on to successful lives outside of school. Our students are definitely NOT stupid. And I would pit the top X% of fifteen-year-olds in my community against the top X% of fifteen-year-olds in a similar community anywhere in the world. But, since we have a very low dropout rate and most of students do go on to graduate, our sophomore class would probably not fare well in an academic test of the sophomores of an elite school. That is just common sense.


If you spot a post on one of the chatboards that you think should appear in a future IMHO, use the "Share" button inside each chatboard post to email it to the Gazette editor with IMHO in the subject line. If it is a Teachers.Net mailring message that impresses you as an exemplary one, forward the email to the same address. You don't have to agree with the opinion stated; submitting simply means that you think it worthy of others' attention.

» More Gazette articles...

Related Resources & Discussions on Teachers.Net...

Latest Posts on the Master Teachers Chatboard...