The Loss Of Academic Rigor: Instant Gratification, Rewards, And The Blame Game

The Loss Of Academic Rigor:  Instant Gratification, Rewards, And The Blame Game

There was a survey going around Facebook today based on a debate this morning hosted on 'The View'.  The questions posted were the following: "Should students be paid for every book they read?"   "Is it an incentive or a distraction?"

Personally, the fact that we even have to ask this question is disturbing.  Are we so desperate that we have to bribe kids to read?

According to the (CFR) ( and the sponsored Independent Task Force on U.S. Education Reform and National Security, we can look at the numbers below to see why we have become desperate:

According to the results of the 2009 Program for International Student Assessment (PISA), an international assessment that measures the performance of 15-year-olds in reading, mathematics, and science every three years, U.S. students rank 14th in reading, 25th in math, and 17th in science compared to students in other industrialized countries.  These numbers are scary and it is no wonder that we are quickly falling behind our foreign neighbors.

  • More than 25% of students fail to graduate from high school in four years; for African-American and Hispanic students, this number is approaching 40%.
  • In civics, only 1/4 of U.S. students are proficient or better on the National Assessment of Educational Progress.
  • Although the United States is a nation of immigrants, roughly eight in ten Americans speak only English and a decreasing number of schools are teaching foreign languages.
  • A recent report by ACT, the not-for-profit testing organization, found that only 22% of U.S. high school students met "college ready" standards in all of their core subjects; these figures are even lower for African-American and Hispanic students.

After coming across this article, I happened to stumble upon this article:  Better teachers, equipment won't improve schools as long as students avoid work.  Teresa Talbot, a teacher in Utah who has been teaching for 25 years finally says what has long been overdue:  "The problems of public education are a societal problem — a society that no longer values individual work ethic and a society that wants to place the responsibility for education on what is taught, how it is taught and by whom it is taught, instead of on the students who are responsible for learning."

Kudos to Teresa.  We have been living in an educational dream covered in red tape for too long.  We have a system that is failing our students because our society has a whole has let them fail.  Our kids live in 2 different worlds today; either they are completely over rewarded and have become accustomed to the mind-set of 'what does this get me?' or they are fairly neglected and have simply given up.  There are very few students living between these lines.

When did academic rigor and student responsibility fall to the sidelines?  Education is a gift, a treasure, and an ever growing and life-long experience that should be treated as such.  What has happened to the message?  Is knowledge still power?

The love of learning cannot be underestimated.  Everyone loves something that is either related to education or stems from a learning experience.  We cannot afford this type of mentality in a system that should be thriving.

Work is too hard, too much, not enough for me, me, me.  Have we justified the rights of this behavior?

It's not too late.  It is never too late.  When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.


Klein, J., Levy, J., Rice, C. U.S. Education Reform and National Security. 2012. Council on Foreign Relations Press. March 12, 2012.

Talbot, T. Better teachers, equipment won't improve schools as long as students avoid work. 2012. Desert News. August 3, 2012.



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