August 10, 2011

Today I have the opportunity to post one of my rants on the New York Times Blog Motherlode.  This one is about summer homework, and now that it’s out in the world, I’m not sure whether I’ll be in more trouble with my kids’ teachers or with my former teaching colleagues.

Many thanks to Lisa Belkin for publishing it here.

Click over and check it out.  Or, if you’ve clicked over here from there, here are a few more posts you might enjoy.

 

On education:

Thoughts on on inequality and creativity

Middle-school nightmares

 

On parenting:

On paying attention

House Rules

 

On noticing what’s right in front of me:

Old Friends, Gratitude and the Today We’re Given

 

 

Or check out the archives for a few others you might enjoy.  Thanks for visiting!

 

T. August 12, 2011 at 9:40 am

Lovely to read your thoughts on Motherlode. Glad to see you there.

I agree that summer homework is more than a little problematic. One of the commenters at Motherlode suggested that summer vacation is simply too long. I think that may be true, but she suggested that that was somehow the case because it was convenient for the parents. I don’t think that is accurate. I don’t think it’s convenient at all for people struggling to pay for camps and daycare all summer long. Our long summer break is certainly a holdover from the largely agrarian society we once were, but it also seems exemplify our lack of balance.

As Americans we seem to have become an all or nothing society, a culture of extremes. We are either working overly long days, adults and children alike, or we are on vacation, trying desperately to recover from the effects of the former. I think shorter days and more frequent breaks might be helpful in reducing the stress we all feel and well as the backslide of our students. Summer homework is, I think, an attempt to change the tires on a car with a broken axle.

It seems like we demonize the concept of labor and glorify leisure. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Just a couple of days ago, while on a family trip around the Northeast, we stopped at our alma mater and walked around campus with our children, pointing out the room where we first had a class together, the student center where we had our first real conversation. On the way back to the car I said to my husband, “We didn’t realize how good we had it, did we?” My husband asked, “How so?” and I replied, “All we had to do was eat, sleep, and engage in academic study. Sounds like paradise, doesn’t it?” He replied, “Sounds like vacation.”

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