Monday, January 05, 2009

Krashen on too much homework

An interesting letter published in the Washington Post about excessive homework. You can find it at
Susan Ohanian's comment precedes the letter, containing information about an important blog. See also Alfie Kohn's book, The Truth About Homework. My comment, posted on the Washington Post website, comes after the letter, below. So far, most of the other comments posted think that the letter writer is whining. I strongly disagree.
Susan Ohanian: Let us hope this parent disgust sparks a revolution against homework. Get in touch with:
Stop Homework the blog of Sara Bennett, co-author of The Case AgainstHomework: How Homework Is Hurting Our Children and What We Can Do About It.
Published in Washington Post 12/19/2008
To the editor
Too Much Holiday Homework
Friday, December 19, 2008; Page A34
Washington Post
I am flabbergasted at this year's winter break homework packets from the Prince George's County public schools. We parents are asked to make sure that our children are in school every day for instruction. We are asked not to take them out for vacations or even appointments unless doing so is absolutely necessary, as this interferes with the time needed for instruction. I fully support this and wait, when possible, until the break periods to schedule trips and medical appointments.
I am appalled at the amount of work in the proposed winter packets for my seventh-, ninth- and 10th-graders. I am not opposed to the children's being asked to read or work on a long-term project, but I consider the assigning of this "busy work" harmful to family time.
I urge Prince George's schools to reconsider this packet idea; children need downtime. I was looking forward to enjoying quality time with my children, not rushing to ensure that a biology packet of more than 30 pages is completed. This year, to add insult to injury, we parents are expected to print these packets out for our children. If the schools do not have the resources to provide a packet for every child, the projects should not be required. I worked in an elementary school for five years and saw firsthand the need for a break from studies.
— Patti King

Comment posted on Washington Post website
Stephen Krashen

Why don't young people read more? Common wisdom is that they don't read well enough. According to Scholastic's 2008 Kids and Family Reading Report, however, only nine percent of the young people (ages 5 to 17) interviewed said it was because they don't read very well. In contrast, twenty-seven percent said it was because they had too much homework.
We know that pleasure reading, self-selected reading for fun, is the major source of our literacy development. Ironically, excessive homework is getting in the way of literacy development.
We published a case history of a high school student whose reading scores declined during the academic year, but improved each summer: She was a dedicated pleasure reader, read a lot over the summer, but didn't have time for it during the year. Her mom joked that it might be a good idea to keep her daughter at home during the school year in order to increase her improvement on standardized tests of reading.
Our paper: Shu-Yuan Lin, Fay Shin, and Stephen Krashen, Sophia’sChoice: Summer Reading. Knowledge Quest 27 (4)


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