The “Work-Ethic” Gap

Apparently, this Op-Ed in the Boston Globe by Kara Miller has been batted around quite a bit the last few days. I’m not going to comment on the split that Miller sees between American and foreign students, not least because it would mean having to take up a logic that seems to suggest we need to be perfect tools (in the pejorative sense):

Success is all about time management, and in a globalizing economy, Americans’ inability to stay focused and work hard could prove to be a serious problem.

Well, it is if you have a rather stilted notion of “success.” (Socrates: terrible at time management. Would often just stand gaping up at the sky on neighbor’s doorsteps while others went onto to the party.) But I do want to follow up on this:

Too many 18-year-old Americans, meanwhile, text one another under their desks (certain they are sly enough to go unnoticed), check e-mail, decline to take notes, and appear tired and disengaged.

Well, maybe in your class they are tired and disengaged. (Just kidding.) But it does amaze me how students do think I am a movie screen that doesn’t see them. You are right in front of me. I can see you. Don’t think you’re texting can’t be seen. Or that when you need to scratch the inside of your nose (nice way to put that) and you look around to check if other students see you, that somehow I don’t. I am not epiphenomenal!