Day by Day

Tuesday, August 26, 2003

California schools to curtail homework

I guess they're not content to be just near the bottom....

"It's recognizing these kids are people. They're not just these little academic machines,'' Assistant Principal Chuck Merritt said of Palo Alto High's efforts to alleviate student stress.

In a world where students load their transcripts with advanced classes, sports, clubs and volunteer activities to impress colleges, education experts say concerns about stress are valid. Too much tension is linked to everything from cheating on tests to binge drinking and suicide.

"It's very scary,'' said Denise Clark Pope, a lecturer at Stanford University's School of Education. "We're hurting our kids.''

Lynbrook High administrators said they have been working on reducing academic anxiety for a while. Students attend only half of their classes Tuesdays and Wednesdays, and they jump on trampolines and blow soap bubbles during the school's annual stress-free week.

"Some kids are just stressed all the time,'' said Barbara Minneti, Lynbrook's assistant principal for school climate. "They don't have time to do anything. They're trying to pad their résumés with jobs and 2,000 clubs. And then they're doing homework until 2 o'clock in the morning.''

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