A couple more articles from washpost.com
- Subject: A couple more articles from washpost.com
- From: "Allen Flanigan." <Allen.Flanigan@USPTO.GOV>
- Date: Tue, 19 Feb 2002 17:36:22 -0500
- Reply-to: Assessment Reform Network Mailing List <ARN-L@LISTS.CUA.EDU>
- Sender: Assessment Reform Network Mailing List <ARN-L@LISTS.CUA.EDU>
A couple of other newsworthy stories on the Post's website today (I tried
their email function but it wouldn't work, so here's the link:)
"Peer Grading" Not Invasive, Court Says
By Charles Lane
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, February 19, 2002; 12:11 PM
If school teachers want their students to grade one another's work in class,
the Supreme Court will not stand in the way.
By a vote of 9-0, the court ruled today that a federal educational privacy
law does not bar the widely-employed practice, known as "peer grading.'
Tonight's Assignment: Emphasize the Home in Homework
By Wendy A. Zevin
Special to The Washington Post
Tuesday, February 19, 2002; Page C10
It's Thursday, and I find myself thinking: "Yes! Just one more evening of
homework and then three nights off." And I'm the parent, for heaven's sake.
What is going on here?
Homework has been called a lot of things (some not fit to print) but never
"family-friendly." Unspoken in the debate over the academic benefits of
homework and the usual complaints about assignments (too many, too
time-consuming, too inane) is the fact that homework can be a minefield for
parent-child interactions. As a parent and a psychotherapist, I am all too
aware of the psychological casualties that litter that minefield.
In the Search Institute's recent study of Arlington County's youth, less
than one-third of students reported experiencing "positive family
communication," a worrisome deficit that puts our children at risk. Homework
rarely engenders positive family communication. In fact, we commonly refer
to this realm of family life as the homework wars, replete with wounds and
Not a pretty picture considering the ratio of total homework hours to total
family hours. After the battles, we stand in the emotional rubble and
wonder: What's wrong with this picture?
I'm not trashing homework entirely. It can be valuable, necessary and
occasionally even fun. I just worry about the costs -- costs that are
largely invisible to those who assign the work. One of the frustrating
aspects of this worry is that it's hard to know where to place the blame.
Teachers? Administrators? State boards that have bestowed us with
standardized tests? Ourselves? Actually, I don't want to blame anybody; I
really like my kids' school, and I deeply appreciate most of what their
teachers are doing.
Still, we parents are responsible for the whole child, and we should be
doing something about this. Shouldn't we have more say about what is
expected to happen in our homes? Shouldn't "parental discretion advised" be
part of all homework instructions? We are not usually welcome to
respectfully decline or alter homework assignments to flexibly fit
circumstances. Even when we are, the offer feels disingenuous when children
who "always complete all their homework" are publicly singled out for kudos.
Worse yet, parents who question or complain about homework can hear some
amazingly guilt-tripping responses from school personnel. And who is more
vulnerable to guilt than a concerned parent?
What I wish for is a collaborative spirit in designing homework that
recognizes the school-home ecosystem where children are supposed to thrive.
We need a dialogue wherein parents can remind teachers that we have so much
more to offer our kids in a family game of Monopoly (capitalist math,
learning to be a good winner and a good loser) than in a fight over
finishing "just three more" problems that really don't amount to a hill of
beans. (How many beans in that hill? First estimate, then count. Then color
the estimated beans blue, the exact ones yellow. ARRGH!) We need a
curriculum that recognizes that preparing a family meal together teaches
organization skills, health and nutrition, money math, recipe math (crucial
fractions), cooking chemistry, reading, responsibility, teamwork and
actually could be family-friendly. Maybe we'd even think of making a meal
for a homeless family (extra credit) or for a relative who is enduring
chemotherapy or recovering from surgery (pre-med credit).
What I also wish for is that we (parents and educators) remember to
frequently ask: What is the point of what we are doing? That we remember not
to waste what time we have with our children, and not to waste their time,
either. That means that we have to look beyond intent, beyond effect on test
scores, and take an accounting of unwanted side effects of homework. We must
make certain that we are not squandering the rich resources of family
relationships -- or worse, damaging them.
Moreover, we need to do a better job of protecting our kids and ourselves
from unnecessary stress. These days, the sources of stress are many and
varied, carrying more combustible charges in the post-Sept. 11 ambient
anxiety. We have to remember the importance of play and the value of
interests in things other than school. We have to remember that our
children, like us, cannot and should not try to do it all. And that homework
should not always come first. As a child psychologist, I know that play is
the work of children. As a mom, I know that the family that plays together,
Problem: A third-grade boy gets out of school at 3:35. He wolfs down a snack
in the car, and then zooms into his beloved tennis clinic from 4 to 5. From
5 to 6, he is an invited helper in his younger sister's tennis clinic
(during which he practices patience, learns to teach others, is a terrific
big brother and earns praise and thanks from an admired coach). From 6 to 7,
he rides home and gets some much needed dinner. At 7, he takes a much needed
shower. It is now, at best, 7:15, and he is exhausted. Dr. Mom would like to
prescribe reading, some evening parental cuddle/talk time and bed. How does
he now get an hour of homework done? Does he practice piano tonight, as
Ironically, one intended goal of homework is to teach kids to use their time
wisely. I raise my hand: Could we go over that one again, please?
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