Here is a story of a Detroit teacher visiting Japan for three weeks, all expenses paid by the Japanese government. She was just one of a group of 200 that went there in order to learn why the Japanese school system is so effective at teaching advanced material to kids.
The EdWonk knows, and he didn't even have to leave the 'States. The secret of success lies in the old Japanese maxim: "Teacher say, student do." Both teachers and students have a duty give their best efforts. It's as simple as that.
But of course here in the United States, it's the teacher's job to motivate the student to learn. And then it's the teacher that is blamed when the child is not motivated. That is what we here in America call, "accountability."