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The W - Current Events & Politics - Calif. Schools Seek to Reduce Stress
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Since: 11.7.02
From: MD

Since last post: 2608 days
Last activity: 1062 days
#1 Posted on | Instant Rating: 7.29
More reasons everybdoy else think California is nuts(whole story from the SJ Mercury News

Easing students' stress

By Nicole C. Wong
Mercury News

The blasé summer days of hangin' out, lyin' around and doin' nothing are ending this week for many Bay Area teenagers, but that doesn't necessarily mean a return to the manic mode typical of ambitious high school students.

Lynbrook High School in San Jose will kick off school today with new guidelines that discourage teachers from assigning homework over weekends and holidays.

And Palo Alto High School, which welcomes students back Tuesday, is granting its first homework holiday at the end of the semester to give high-gear students some time to chill.

Administrators' attempts to lighten the homework load are part of Bay Area high schools' efforts to ease student stress.

The gestures acknowledge that the intense competition to win admission into elite universities by cramming teens' schedules with unwieldy amounts of academic classes and extracurricular activities may be taking a toll on students' physical, mental and emotional well-being.

Giving kids a break

``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.''

After watching exhausted students fall asleep in class after plowing through an average of seven to 10 hours of homework a night, the school created homework guidelines. Among other things, the guidelines recommend students be given reading and practice problems on topics already covered, instead of homework assignments dealing with material that their teachers have yet to explain in class.

Palo Alto High's homework holiday is a mandate, not a suggestion. This year teachers cannot assign any reading, exams or projects over the semester break. And apart from the college-level advanced placement courses, exams can't be given and projects can't be due the first day back from winter and spring breaks.

``It really is a chance to just shut down and regenerate,'' Principal Sandra Pearson said.

Homework breaks

Such adjustments in the homework schedule may seem like good ideas, but often wind up being what Stanford's Pope calls ``Band-Aid approaches.''

Homework breaks might not change the total time students spend on essays and problem sets, she said.

``Teachers just cheat and assign more due on Tuesday,'' said Pope, author of ``Doing School: How We Are Creating a Generation of Stressed Out, Materialistic, and Miseducated Students.''

Henry Dreyfus, who will be a senior at Palo Alto High, is not looking forward to the homework respite.

``There are ways to limit stress, and I don't think a homework holiday is a good one,'' said Henry, 17. ``We need the homework for reinforcement. I think as a result, we're going to get behind, and teachers are going to have to go over the same thing in class.''

But junior Christine Lockner, 16, said the brief break is ``all good if it actually works out.''

Students at Mission San Jose High School in Fremont won't see a significant change in how homework is handled. Instead, Principal Stuart Kew said, the school tries to take the edge off the college-prep craziness by reinforcing ``the concept of having a really memorable high school experience.''

Mission San Jose keeps in mind a lot of little things, like waiting to hold junior prom and senior ball until after advanced placement testing ends.

``It's a once-in-a-lifetime experience,'' Kew said. ``We are concerned that some of our students might be forgoing those experiences because they're so highly concentrating on academics.''

San Jose High Academy is taking another tack toward soothing nerves frazzled by too much studying. The school has transformed a bland hallway into the Bulldog Cafe, where students can unwind as they admire the new mural, plants and Ikea furnishings.

``It gives a really nice relaxed feeling,'' Principal Betsy Doss said.

Some schools have discovered their swell stress-reduction ideas don't catch on with students.

Hit and miss

The science department at Cupertino's Monta Vista High School thought more students would enjoy football games if they didn't have to worry about turning in their lab reports the next day. So last year, science teachers attended many sporting events and handed out passes allowing students who stayed for the entire game to turn in any assignment a day late.

But after the first semester, ``it just kind of fizzled,'' said biology teacher Lani Giffin. A number of students still sat in the library instead of in the bleachers. And others whined about inconsistency because teachers didn't attend junior varsity events.

``We tried to do something nice,'' Giffin said, ``and all we got were complaints.''

"Each time I've met Huffington, I wondered if she was not somehow the long-lost daughter of Madame Nicolai Ceaucescu, or a genetic cross between Martha Stewart and Count Dracula. Had this Greek-born harpy lived in medieval times, she would have been sewn up in a bag with a rooster and two snakes and thrown into the nearest river."
-- Eric Margolis, Toronto Star
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Lap cheong

Since: 2.1.02
From: Getting Rowdy

Since last post: 4168 days
Last activity: 4011 days
#2 Posted on | Instant Rating: 9.00
Who needs an official homework amnesty? Any slacker worth his salt will simply neglect it of his own volition.

"Georgie Porgie, he might buy the whole league, but he doesn't have enough money to buy fear to put in my heart."
Pedro Martinez

Since: 23.1.02
From: In a Blue State finally

Since last post: 506 days
Last activity: 308 days
#3 Posted on
This is more aimed at the non-slackers who are having nervous breakdowns because of the homework load.

Hooray for them. Homework in public highschools these days seems to be mostly pointless busywork. And only those who spend time studying for the tests and taking as many extra curriculars as they can get those happyfun scholarships. Unless, of course, you're like me and you just happen to test well. Then you can sleep through class, do no homework, and just take the tests to get your A-. So as long as homework is a meaningless time waster I applaud them for reducing the homework load to help reduce kids' stress.


And there's a million of us just like me
Who dress like me, walk, talk, oppress like me
Mustache like me, a big piece of trash like me
And just might be a piece of shit, but not quite me!

I'm Saddam. Yes, I'm the real Saddam.
And you other Saddams can all kiss my bottom.
So won't the real Hussein please stand up?
Please stand up?
Please stand up?

-The Real Hussein
Lap cheong

Since: 7.1.02
From: Birmingham, AL

Since last post: 73 days
Last activity: 61 days
#4 Posted on
* Why would "busywork"-type homework cause stress?

* Is there really 7-10 hours of homework assigned each night? I find that hard to believe, considering that would almost leave no time for anything else.

* Are the clubs really legitimate? I had a few clubs on my resume after high school too, but only one or two were anything more than just clubs on paper.

* How much of this is REALLY caused by students attempting to hold down what amounts to nearly full-time jobs in addition to going to school, and doing the extra-curriculars, just so they can keep driving that nice car that they really can't afford? I think sometimes this stress is really self-inflicted. I only worked summers when I was a kid. Sure that meant driving around old clunkers, but I was certainly stress-free during the school year.

* And does this only refer to those on the college-track, advance placement students? Because I can't imagine the student population at large being THAT concerned about academics. Not unless things have changed a lot since I was in high school.

* The "once-in-a-lifetime" experience of the prom, highly overrated.

Everything that is wrong in this world can be blamed on Freddie Prinze Jr.

Since: 1.3.02
From: Silicon Valley, California

Since last post: 4883 days
Last activity: 4476 days
#5 Posted on
well Lynbrook and Palo Alto High are definitely among
those high-stress academic schools in the Bay Area;
the ones where 80% of the parents want their kids to
go to the top colleges. The kind of schools that
parents have paid 200k more for their box house
to live in that area so their kids can go there.

as for 7-10 hours of homework: dunno...ask the high
school wienerboarders i do know some middle
schoolers are spending 2-3 hours a night on
homework. i just can't imagine high school students
staying up past midnight regularly for school
homework assignments that they didn't procrastinate

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