Ryan Chartrand

Brian Eller’s “America: Land of the Dumb” column indicates he is motivated to learn by fear of doing poorly, greed (good grades lead to more money), and love (joy in pushing himself to the limit). But why is he not motivated by the love of learning, by learning as an end in itself rather than as a means to an end? What about learning as a vehicle for gaining insight into how the world works and developing strategies for solving important problems? Maybe the reason there are so many dumb students (Eller’s words, not mine) is because they no longer enjoy learning for its own sake – so if they can’t see a pretty immediate payoff, they tune out.

I take great exception to his attack on Democrats and teacher’s unions. In my view, vouchers are not the answer to our country’s educational problems. Countries whose children do better than those in the U.S. on standardized tests generally have less school choice than what is available here. But their children are generally highly motivated, their parents are concerned and involved, and their teachers are respected and supported.

Yes, a good deal of money is spent on education in this country, but compare conditions of schools in Beverly Hills and Palo Alto to those in Compton or the Bronx in New York City. And how many political Conservatives opt for a career in teaching, as opposed to one in investment banking or real estate development? Teachers are certainly not motivated by fear or greed, though I know from personal experience how many push themselves to the limit to better serve their students.

Jay Devore
Statistics professor

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