Thursday, January 20, 2011

Students Make the School

By Sean Scarpiello

Dr. Robert Weissberg recently wrote a book entitled, “Bad Students, Not Bad Schools.” In his book, he takes a controversial stance and describes how schools are only as good as the students attending them. He describes that if we take bad students out of schools and focus more on the motivated students who want to learn, then the education system will be much more successful. Teachers are not the ones at fault and when they are hindered by lazy students, they are unable to focus on the students who enjoy learning. Are Dr. Robert Weissberg’s ideas true about America’s education system today, and would his suggestions on how to fix schools cause a change in America’s schools?

For the most part, Dr. Robert Weissberg’s ideas do seem to fit America’s schools today. I agree with his stance on bad students and how they hinder many of today’s schools. I myself agree in a “sink or swim” kind of mindset for schools. In my schooling experience, I found that about 90% of my classmates wanted to learn, which was great. However, it was this small 10% of students that just wanted to leave, which really held back the rest of us. It was these students which acted up in class and in the hallways during the school day. It did not occur a lot, but enough to force the school to hire hall aids and “rent-a-cops” which had had the task of removing these students if they interrupted the flow of learning.

It wasn’t that the students directly hindered the class all the time, but they held the school back indirectly. For one, they caused teachers to be a bit intimated by students because teachers would see this bad minority of students’ behavior and label the other 90% to have the same mindset as these punks. Then, it seemed that all students would miss out on some class activities because the teacher was afraid it would get out of hand. Also, if we add up the salaries of all the hall aids and “rent-a-cops,” we can see how our school could have benefited from having an extra couple hundred thousand dollars of spending money.

If schools could come up with a means of isolating the unmotivated students from the motivated students, there could be more opportunities for the good students. There would be more opportunities for learning as well as funding for the education of these students. For the unmotivated students, there ought to be a program to help these students get their GED quickly.

I also want to bring up that there is a difference between bad students and special education students. Bad students are completely unmotivated and special education students have a difficult time learning. Bad students and special educated students often get grouped together. Bad students do not struggle with learning like special education students, because bad students do not even put forth effort. Special education students would not be penalized as long as they are putting forth the effort to learn, even if learning comes difficult to them.

I also must address the fact that Dr. Robert Weissberg is a bit racist. He describes that Hispanic and Black IQs, are not as high as those of Caucasians. I am not sure if this is a valid statistic; however, it is important to remember that it is not only skill that determines if one is a good or bad student. Motivation is the key factor. There can be bad students that are extremely intelligent which simply do not apply themselves. There may also be students that lack a bit in their ability to learn, but since they are motivated and try in school they can succeed in a “sink or swim” learning environment.


Bob W said...

My book clearly stresses the importance of motivation and explicitly notes that drive can compensate for some degree of low cognitive ability. Stating a well-documented scientific fact on IQ differences does not make one a racist. There is nothing in my discussion about inferiority or superiority as a result of IQ. Calling someone a "racist" is a great way to kill public discussion

Alisandra Wederich said...

I think it might be important to note that many IQ tests are biased based on cultural differences. (More information on this here: This means that it's the IQ test that is biased, not Bob W.

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