Psssst… Tom Friedman… texting is really not the problem

The opening and closing of today’s Tom Friedman’s column: For me, the most frightening news in The Times on Sunday was not about North Korea’s stepping up its nuclear program, but an article about how American kids are stepping up their use of digital devices… We need better parents ready to hold their kids to ...

By , a professor of international politics at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University.

The opening and closing of today's Tom Friedman's column:

For me, the most frightening news in The Times on Sunday was not about North Korea's stepping up its nuclear program, but an article about how American kids are stepping up their use of digital devices...

We need better parents ready to hold their kids to higher standards of academic achievement. We need better students who come to school ready to learn, not to text. And to support all of this, we need an all-society effort -- from the White House to the classroom to the living room -- to nurture a culture of achievement and excellence.

The opening and closing of today’s Tom Friedman’s column:

For me, the most frightening news in The Times on Sunday was not about North Korea’s stepping up its nuclear program, but an article about how American kids are stepping up their use of digital devices…

We need better parents ready to hold their kids to higher standards of academic achievement. We need better students who come to school ready to learn, not to text. And to support all of this, we need an all-society effort — from the White House to the classroom to the living room — to nurture a culture of achievement and excellence.

If you want to know who’s doing the parenting part right, start with immigrants, who know that learning is the way up. Last week, the 32 winners of Rhodes Scholarships for 2011 were announced — America’s top college grads. Here are half the names on that list: Mark Jia, Aakash Shah, Zujaja Tauqeer, Tracy Yang, William Zeng, Daniel Lage, Ye Jin Kang, Baltazar Zavala, Esther Uduehi, Prerna Nadathur, Priya Sury, Anna Alekeyeva, Fatima Sabar, Renugan Raidoo, Jennifer Lai, Varun Sivaram.

Do you see a pattern?

OMG, I do see a pattern!! It’s the the funky foreign name game! Hey, I can play that game too — in fact, let’s take a look at the first paragraph of that Sunday Times story, shall we?

On the eve of a pivotal academic year in Vishal Singh’s life, he faces a stark choice on his bedroom desk: book or computer?

Guess what? He chooses the computer.

I understand what Friedman is trying to say here about American education, but mixing in the "kids are texting too much these days and it’s rotting their brains" lament is as distracting a hook as… er… texting itself. Does Friedman seriously believe that the young people in South Korea, Vietnam, and China are abstaining from this technology?

Sorry, Tom, but the North Korea nucleas reactor story scares me far more. [So what do you think of the DPRK’s latest provocations? Huh, smart guy?!–ed. I hope to post something on this later today.]

Daniel W. Drezner is a professor of international politics at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University, where he is the co-director of the Russia and Eurasia Program. Twitter: @dandrezner

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