Comments about ‘My view: Better teachers, equipment won't improve schools as long as students avoid work’

Return to article »

Published: Friday, Aug. 3 2012 12:00 a.m. MDT

  • Oldest first
  • Newest first
  • Most recommended
Springville, UT

Better teachers can make a difference. A mediocre teacher may not be able to get a student's interest or inspire. Any teacher who says that better teachers won't make a difference should perhaps find a new career. The home environment is very important, but any teacher who does not think good teaching is part of the equation is perhaps part of the problem.

Paul in MD
Montgomery Village, MD

Part of the problem lies with parents. When I was in elementary school, my parents brought me in to a meeting with my English teacher because my grade in his class was far below anything I had brought home before, and below all my other classes that year. I was brought with them to hear what I needed to do to improve.

Nowadays, my wife and I meet with our kids' teachers, and they are almost surprised when we ask what we can do to help our kids improve their grades. The teachers expect to be berated by us if our kids don't perform well!

Too many parents are pointing their fingers in the wrong direction, and protecting their kids from the consequences of their own bad performance. It is similar to the phenomenon we see in children's sports, where everyone receives the same recognition and awards regardless who comes in first place. Kids need to learn there are rewards for good performance, and a lack of accolades for poor performance.

We aren't doing our kids or our society any favors by "protecting" our kids from that lesson.

  • 7:18 a.m. Aug. 3, 2012
  • Like (13)
  • Top comment
one old man
Ogden, UT

This is an absolutely GREAT column. Unfortunately, it is 120% correct.

It needs to be read by every member of the Utah legislature. By every parent. By EVERYONE!

But there was one big omission. A very large part of the problem is uncaring, lazy PARENTS.

Yet in Utah, we will continue to try to penalize the teachers.

American Fork, UT

It's true. School these days is 'boring' and 'dull'. Society doesn't expect much of students, and they deliver. Plus, with minds tuned to textng and gaming, they've got the attention span of a gnat. If I were a teacher, I would definitely try to cherry pick my class each year, focusing on the motivated ones.


@Esquire: I agree that a great teacher can make a difference, but only to a point. Learning requires work and attention on the part of the learner. A great teacher conveys their passion for learning, is knowledgeable, takes the needs of 25+ individual minds with varying abilities into account and tries to make the subject as entertaining as possibe, but--the learner must meet the teacher halfway at some point.


Teachers are not required to make every student work. That's their parent's job. Step up to the plate and make your kids study.

Herriman, UT

I teach. 11 years now in a middle school. When I look at my students, I have to agree with the author. I can sum up all of my failing students into two camps. In one camp, the students are not in class. It is common that in a 45 day quarter, they are there 7 days or less. Usually it is the last week where they come to school and are overwhelmed with the work load they have in order to pass anything. The second camp are the students that do not do their work. I am willing to be at school 90 minutes before my contract time and 90 minutes after my contract time to help any of them complete their work. Parents tell me they can't do either. They can't get their kid up on time for 1st period, let alone early to complete assignments and after school the child has sports or dance. I had a parent look at her child in a meeting with me and ask if he wanted to do the work. He said no. She said he did not have to do it. No teacher can overcome these obstacles without parent support.

The Real Maverick
Orem, UT

I've always said, if parents cannot give attention to the kids they currently have, then how are they expecting to give the attention to the kids that they desire/will have?

Here in Utah, we forget these important basic issues. Perhaps we need to cut down on the family sizes. QUALITY not QUANTITY.

If you cannot motivate, educate, give attention to your children, then you obviously aren't prepared to be a parent.

Springville, UT

@ clutch, I don't disagree with you at all. It just seems this is a teacher who is just hanging in there until retirement. Too many teachers are not inspiring or leading like they should. They can turn lives around. But biding time? Go away, then.

Eric Samuelsen
Provo, UT

Yeah, well, inspire your students, and they'll respond. I think a dull and uninspired curriculum (mandated by the legislature) couldn't possibly help. But I taught for thirty years (granted, at the college level), and I never once experienced the difficulty this author describes.

use the noodle
Casa Grande, AZ

While I support teachers I think the most important thing is that teachers are engaging with the students. They need small enough classes and volunteers to help them do it.

Teachers have to spend way too much time getting 30 kids all quiet at the same time to be able to interact with one student that really needs it.

Paul in MD
Montgomery Village, MD

Eric, there is a difference between students in college and in elementary/middle/high school. College kids (or their parents) are paying for their education directly. There is incentive for them to be there, and the grades MUST be earned. Too many public school teachers are pressured/forced to give passing grades and not hold kids back.

Others, class size has little to do with it. 30 years ago, elementary school class sizes in my area were 25 - 30 kids, and the problems the author describes weren't rampant as they are today. The problem is as Sikeli described - kids don't want to do the work, and parents are enabling that behavior. The same parents will then go after the teacher and administration when the child is given a bad grade.

It doesn't matter one bit how engaging the material or the teacher is, if the children won't bother to do the work that is REQUIRED to actually learn the material.

If our nation's farmers attended to their tasks the way many of our students do, how many of us do you think there would still be?

Lehi, UT

"One of the greatest favors parents can do for their children is to teach them to work."
"We never give our children a lift when we give them a free ride."
-Elder Marvin J. Ashton

"The parent who procrastinates the pursuit of his responsibility as a teacher may, in years to come, gain bitter insight into Whittier's expression: "Of all sad words of tongue or pen, / The saddest are these: 'It might have been!'"
-President Thomas Monson, October 1997 LDS General Conference

"It is not what you do for your children but what you have taught them to do for themselves that will make them successful human beings."
-Ann Landers

"The health of any society, the happiness of its people, their prosperity, and their peace all find their roots in the teaching of children by fathers and mothers."
"Parents, please do not attempt to shield your children from the consequences of their actions."
-President Gordon B. Hinkley

"Remember you can't teach your children to work unless you do. A loving
father who never failed to involve me in the project of the day taught me my
work ethic."
-Dave Ramsay

one old man
Ogden, UT

Mr. Samuelsen -- didn't anyone ever tell you that there are some pretty significant differences between teaching at the college level and in middle or high school?

College students are paying for the privilege of being there. Could it be that they are motivated by that and some other desires? They are also just a bit more mature.

With all due respect, sir, that is one of the most idiotic comments I've read in a long, long time.

taylorsville, utah

A big part of the problem is parents. Parents who are supportive of the student but who demand that the student (1) completes homework on time, (2) behaves appropriately in class and is on task and (2) comes in either before or after school for one-on-one help as need, have students who do well and succeed. Parents who make excuses for the student, who demand a better grade than what is earned and who blame the teacher for the students lack of effort have students who don't do well and who rarely succeed.

Most teachers I know are willing to put in whatever time and effort are required for their students to succeed if the student is willing to work hard and meet them halfway.

We have become a society where all too often the parents want to be "friends" with their children but are unwilling to be the "parent" when it is time for the hard decisions.

orem, UT

Esquire - I think your comments do not apply to the suthor of this article. She is willing to give three hours of unpaid time to help students succeed. Would you be willing to do that? This is not the action of someone biding their time. Your assumption is offensive.

orem, UT

Correction - it was a commenter and not the author who offered their personal time, however it was still very presumptive to say that the author does nothing to inspire her students. Many, many teachers including my husband bend over backwards to inspire and help students to learn. And yes, it is vasty different teaching in junior high, high school and college. My husband has done both.

South Jordan, UT

Also one of the big problems is the feeling of entitlement. We see that all around as people want something for nothing. Children need to be taught a work ethic and not just handed expensive toys and electronics. Several hundred dollar gifts for birthdays is totally playing into this kind of mentality. This attitude is taught in the home before they ever get to the classroom. The parents need to keep tabs on children better. As parents we forget our first responsibility is our family and not social media, friends, exercise gyms, and the million distractions that take us away. Kids need parents who are involved in their lives, their education, and who actually back the teachers. Power today is with the kids. If there is something they don't want to do, parents tend to facilitate that attitude. We need to take more responsibility. We need to stay focused and get all the help we can in this crazy world to stay invested with our spouse and our children and our grandchildren. A caring, responsible parent would cure many ills with kids who feel they can say and get away with anything. From a caring parent, grandparent, and teacher.

Mamma C

Good article. Educational success is not about more money or more pressure ("accountability") via high stakes testing on teachers and students. It's about the love of learning that begins at home.

Casa Grande, AZ

I've had inspiring teachers that were undeterred and teachers that gave us crossword puzzles with subject vocabulary as if that were learning and not time killing.

We need republican officials to stop trying to kill public education with sensless mandates and testing that doesn't achive anything. I do agree that conservative government can't do anything right.

Under republicans the only meaninfull education our youth will get is in the military.

to comment

DeseretNews.com encourages a civil dialogue among its readers. We welcome your thoughtful comments.
About comments