Monday, December 21, 2009

Calling American Students Lazy is Hurtful

In the meantime, I have heard from Dr. Dennis Hanno, the undergraduate dean at Babson. Dr. Hanno was a former colleague of mine at the Isenberg School of Management, and also a former neighbor in Amherst. He is an amazing individual, educator, and administrator. I urge you to read the commentary on his blog regarding the recent OpEd piece in the Boston Globe that I wrote about below. I am adding this link today (December 24, 2009) due to the uproar created by the OpEd piece. Please read Dean Hanno's commentary here.

In today's Boston Globe there is an OpEd piece written by Kara Miller, who teaches at Babson College. The article is entitled, "My lazy American students," and the author writes how she prefers having students from other countries in her classes since she feels that they have a much better work ethic, despite their, perhaps, poorer English.

I found this OpEd piece painful to read and insulting to all the hard-working students, American or international ones. This past semester was not easy with the H1N1 pandemic, with many families losing jobs and income because of the recession, among other additional stressors on both students and faculty alike.

I would like to counter the arguments in that article and say, in contrast, my students at the Isenberg School of Management at UMass Amherst were terrific this past semester. They showed up to do their presentations despite a big snowstorm. They showed up at their final exam besides it being dark and cold outside (and the heat was up to 80 degrees for some reason in the exam classroom). ALL of my students handed in their presentations on time and the students in my undergraduate class at the Isenberg School of Management were some of the best and the most hard-working ones I have ever had the privilege to teach.

American students are terrific as are the international ones! Interestingly, in my undergraduate class this term I had only one international student (from Hong Kong) whereas in my graduate class I had only one American student with all others being international ones.

As I have heard it said before "Apples don't fall far from the tree." Faculty serve as role models and are as much at fault if the students don't do well as the students are themselves. Honestly, if you can't say something nice perhaps it's best to let it be left unsaid.