One article in the L.A. Times compares the “blame the teacher” movement currently popular in the U.S. with the “blame the worker” movement that failed in the 70s and 80s.
A great section has this:
Recall the reaction of domestic manufacturers in the 1970s as Japanese competitors began to take market share: Many managers and an army of experts blamed American workers. They denounced workers’ “blue-collar blues,” lackadaisical attitudes and union job protections as the chief impediments to higher quality, productivity and competitiveness.
It took nearly two decades for manufacturers to realize that this diagnosis was deeply flawed and that the recommendations that flowed from it were leading U.S. industry further into decline. Recall the success of Japanese-run auto transplants operating in this country during the 1980s: They reached world-class quality levels with a U.S. workforce, in some cases a unionized workforce, while domestic auto companies continued to blame American workers and saw their quality levels stagnate.
Another key line is: “…schools are collaborative, not individual, enterprises, so teaching quality and school performance depend above all on whether the institutional systems support teachers’ efforts.”
Another good article is in the NY Times and centers on student success needing character and individual failure. An interesting line from a headmaster is this one:
People who have an easy time of things, who get 800s on their SAT’s, I worry that those people get feedback that everything they’re doing is great. And I think as a result, we are actually setting them up for long-term failure. When that person suddenly has to face up to a difficult moment, then I think they’re screwed, to be honest. I don’t think they’ve grown the capacities to be able to handle that.”
Basically, the premise of this headmaster is that students need to develop character in order to overcome obstacles in life. It’s a lengthy but interesting read and worth the effort.