We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
I do not really blame teachers, I blame the kids. Most kids are not scholars or intellectually-inclined, and just need readin, ritin, and rithmetic to get by. By and large, that works if you have a useful skill. Ignorance is the norm, generally-speaking.
Whenever the news media asks (which is rather seldom) what catholic schools (or any other such religious school for that matter) do that helps there kids learn better than the public school counterpart they always seem to leave the parents out of the equation. Catholic schools ( and other such schools) have involved parents, something that not all public school kids have.
Even good teachers can only do so much - it is parents that should instill learning in their own children, it is parents who should make sure the kids has enough to eat (why, oh why, is the government feeding breakfast to kids simply because the parents don't?) so that they are not hungry in class, it is the parents who should make sure that Johnny does his homework and gets good grades and, then, either punishes or rewards him if he does or does not.
Far too many American parents just pop the kids out, then dump them off at school and expect the rest of the village to raise them.
Yes, there are kids who are just not really going to learn much. However, there are also really horrid teachers who spend time discussing gun violence in a high school English classroom (direct from one of my kids...90 min. period wasted on a political rant). So that is why local control of schools and getting unions out of schools is so important. No tenure for elementary, middle and high school teachers. It is ridiculous how schools must keep bad teachers due to seniority rules.
Schools should be able to fire teachers at will for any perceived performance problem. At any time.
Parents learn very quickly who the bad teachers are. Why can't we get rid of them?
So dumping the blame all on the kids, is not accurate either. It is a combination of both. But when a school shows it doesn't care by allowing bad teachers to stick around, why would a kid care about school?
Well, the passive (lecture) method of teaching induces "school helplessness" by 3rd grade. Is the student really responsible when they are damaged before they even have awareness? No one can give someone else an education, only instruction, perhaps an example. A few students escape the "school helplessness" and thus are able to harvest intellectual development while the others can do little but enjoy the pretty flowers.
Unfortunately, the emphasis on testing, credit hours and credential accumulation does little to inspire actual learning. From a young age, the student who seek to "just learn" is cajoled, scolded and told to stop reading ahead. They learn to do what is expected and nothing more for school and "school" becomes a time and place effort with no thought when "off the clock" for most student since school subjects develop a negative connotation.
"The way pupils study, depends on what is emphasized. The methods that are best to develop a sound knowledge of geography in pupils, will, as a rule, be the best to teach them how to study geography. The reason that mechanical memorizing is the main part of study in the elementary school, high school and university, is that reproduction is the primary thing required. If boys and girls find that the teachers' questions ask for a reproduction of the text, they will memorize before thinking and without thinking. If, however, there is a thought question, it will cause them to organize and analyze the subject matter of the book, and then mechanical memorizing can not occupy such a prominent part."
One major difference between public education today and public education 50 years ago is this: 50 years ago the teachers taught. That is if you attended class and paid attention you would learn the subject matter. Today the teachers give homework and spend the class time reviewing the homework. This isn't teaching. If the parent is on top of things and makes sure the kids do the homework and help their kids understand what is in the textbooks etc. then they will learn the subject. If the parents do not do the job of the teacher and the child doesn't do the homework then they will learn nothing or at best very little. So understanding this change you could indeed blame the students and the parents because teaching has been turned over to them and the teacher is now only responsible for reviewing in class what the students and parents have accomplished.