As a teacher, I have struggled with Michael Johnson's "Pay It Forward" assignment. Had I experienced this result in my class, the first finger of failure I pointed would be directed back at myself; I certainly wouldn't write an article about it for The Bee! Some students succeed while others fail in any assignment; however, if the majority of a class fails, the teacher must acknowledge that the assignment wasn't well-conceived. Teachers are responsible to prepare the students for success.
Did the class watch "Pay It Forward?" Did they participate in group brainstorming activities about ways to use the $25, knowing that students have differing abilities to think creatively? Were the students allowed to opt out or to feel successful even doing something small? Were speakers invited to provide the class with resources and ideas? Were the students given in-class opportunities to discuss their ideas? Finally, did Johnson consider giving four students $100 as a group assignment, versus giving individual students $25 each?
I struggle to see that such a negative image of today's students has been publicly painted and hope that everyone involved will examine their role in this endeavor.