Homework at Berkeley High
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Homework at Berkeley High
My son is a junior in the IB program at Berkeley High, and seems to have very little
homework during the week; some nights he has none at all. He says that in many of his
classes (such as math) he completes his homework during class time.
It was the same way for him as a sophomore last year. Outside of an AP-level class in
which he clearly should have put in more effort studying at home, he seems to have
completed all the required work for his classes, according to his PowerSchool record.
Still, he ended the year with a B average overall, which leads me to think that there was
room for improvement, and that he could have done beyond the minimum required to raise his
When I ask him what is the amount of effort and work required to be an A-student at
Berkeley High, he seems to have this attitude that the students who earn A grades at BHS
are (in his words) ''try-hards who study all the time and have no life.''
Is this lack of assigned homework the norm for junior-level IB students at Berkeley High,
has Berkeley High become progressive in the ''minimal homework'' movement, or do I have a
Since you asked the question - yes, I would say your son is slacking. My son is a
sophomore at BHIS and has 2-3 hours of homework a night. Yes, he does some in
class, but he does most of it at night. If your son is doing almost no homework at
night and is getting Bs, he's clearly a bright kid and I would think a little extra
effort would turn him into an A student. Besides, there's no reason why you should
not demand that he get all As. I do. I also prohibit entertaining screen time
during the week (no TV, no video games, no YouTube, etc.).
This is just the first month of your son's Junior year. You can be sure the
homework load will increase dramatically as the year progresses. Its possible that
he can do his math homework at school, depending on what level of math he's in, but
you can expect plenty of reading, writing, and group projects in his other classes,
and if he's taking an AP or IB Science he will likely have lots of homework there.
If he's pursuing the IB Diploma, he'll be in challenging classes across the board
that require a lot of work outside of the classroom. The school is working to
reduce the amount of homework, and to make sure that its meaningful, rather than
busy work, but if by November your son is still telling you he doesn't have any
homework I would check with his teachers. And, it is not just the ''try-hards who
study all the time and have no life'' who get A's. Many of the A students are also
among the most active in sports and extracurriculars. They are just really
organized and focused (my child is not one of them, but has many friends who are.)
Experienced BIHS Parent
We just went to back to school night at BHS, where my daughter is a freshman, and I
think you are right, that Berkeley, as an entire school district, recognizes that
the district's population is extremely diverse, and that many of its students do
not have any place to study or work at home. Students may live with a large
extended family, share bedrooms with multiple other kids, or not have access to a
computer. I think the philosophy seems to be that most schoolwork needs to happen
at school for many kids, and that we're setting them up to fail if we expect them
all to have a quiet, safe, well-lit, well-supplied desk in a private room of their
own, because that is simply not a reality for many Berkeley kids. The teachers
also said they give homework only to reinforce what was just learned in class,
while I remember as a child many assignments that seemed like ''busywork''. So
perhaps your son COULD be working harder to attain those A's, but I also think the
schools aim to give less homework than our generation had.
My IB freshman also seems to have no homework -- doing it in class / @ school. I'm
trying to figure out if this is normal?
Go back and read this sentence:
''''try-hards who study all the time and have no life.''
Those try-hards are going to be signing his paycheck in 5 years. He's a slacker all
In the first round of responses, the posters who said that their child didn't have much
homework were parents of freshmen. When my daughter first started as a freshman in IB,
she was pleasantly surprised by the homework load. But homework ramped up about halfway
through freshman year, and now that she's a junior there's just no way she could finish
all her homework in class. Lots of evening time, weekends, etc. Overall she's a serious,
motivated student but not a type A personality, and I think she's doing a good job
balancing her GPA with her emotional well-being.
One thing that's been really helpful is the weekly Powerschool emails with grade
updates. This allows us to stay on top of her grades, encourage more studying or
tutoring as needed, and identify the areas where she should focus her efforts (whether
it's homework, tests, etc.)
I'll have a freshman in AC at Berkeley High in the fall and I'm trying
to figure out after school time/homework. What do others do?
He's always had EDP after school and done what little homework there was
to do there, but I assume by the time you are in high school there isn't
a structured program? Where do kids do homework in high school when
parents aren't home?
I work full time, and would like him to use the time after school in a
useful way, and save screen time for when I get home. I can sort
of/maybe/usually trust him to follow rules like this when I'm not there,
but it's a lot of hours of the week to be self-disciplined. He'll be in
school sports some of the year but not all the time.
I'm hoping that he'll have a challenging academic load, and will need to
spend some serious time on homework for the first time in his life. He
may not need help with the material, but I also don't know if I can
expect him to put in the hours if he's home on his own, so some
structured environment might be good.
Is there ''study hall'' for AC after school? Do kids go to the library?
Study at home? Switch things around and allow screen time when I'm not
there and have him study when I am there? Suggestions welcome! He is a
fairly rule-following kid, and smart, but not incredibly hard working on
- Where's the teen parenting manual anyway?
There is a pretty comprehensive academic support program after school at BHS. Your
son can go there and do his homework, and get extra help in different subjects on
different days, if he wants to. There are also kids who do homework in the library
after school. Subscribe to the BHS etree to get all of the school and program
emails. They will send out an email with the academic support schedule for the
semester. There is a good deal of homework. Best to get it out of the way after
school as much as possible, and be able to maybe BE with you a little at home.
Welcome to BHS
I may be a couple of years out of date, but kids at BHS tend to do homework in
1- BHS library
2 - College & Career Center
3- Berkeley Public library teen room
I don't know if kids have started using the new Teen center diagonally across the
park for homework. Also there is after school free tutoring for some classes that
should start in a month or so.
Often they like to do homework together. Extra snacks or extra money for snacks
also a good idea. Mine was always starving.I know what it's like to be working
full time and having a kid entering BHS. It is a whole new world but it works,
Totally different topic - free breakfast before school is great for working
parents who have to leave early.
Good luck, mom.
Dear Where's The Teen Parenting Manual,
I hear you and have some ideas about where your teenager could study!
Classroom Matters offers two services that might interest you: Supervised Study
Supervised Study operates from our center on Sacramento Street and provides a
comfortable, friendly environment where teens can work productively and get help
as needed. Tutors support students with content and reinforce study habits, such
as planning, time management, test prep, etc. Many students from BHS use it.
If your student can't come to us, use our HomeWorks service to help you set up a
productive study environment at home and/or come up with a plan/routine for
productive studying outside of the home.
You can learn more about both services on our website: www.classroommatters.com.
I'd be happy to answer any questions you might have.
Welcome to BHS! THere are many tutorial and after school programs at
BHS, but honestly, in 9th grade, your student may not need them. The
homework load is not huge in 9th grade and if s/he is diligent, s/he can
probably get it done during the school day. If not, there are tutors in
the College and Career Center until 5:30 or 6:00, the library is open
until 4:30, and BHS teachers are paid to tutor in each subject area once
school starts. Lists of paid teacher tutors will be available after the
first week or two of classes. Some sports teams have mandatory study
hall, you should find out from the coach. Computers are also available
in both the library and College and Career Center. These resources are
often under-utilized so any student who shows up gets lots of support.
My son is a freshman this year at BHS. Although he has
resisted doing homework in the past, most notably in 8th
grade, he has refused to do any homework this year,
claiming that his day is too long as it is, the work is
a ''waste of time'' and some kids get passing grades without
doing their homework. Of course, I want him to work hard
in school, get good grades, etc. I'm interested in
hearing from parents who have dealt with this problem.
Specifically, can a kid pass his subjects at BHS without
doing homework? Do kids who resist homework and get
failing grades or INC grades have to take summer school?
How does the system work?
My son attended the AHA School last year at BHS. First, let me say
that the program was great and I really wish it would have worked out
for my son. Your son's reasons for not doing homework are the same
reasons my son gave. Between taking the bus to school, the longer
school day (on the day he had a Science lab) it was just too long of a
day and he didn't ''feel'' like doing homework when he got home. Like
your son, my son started resisting doing homework in the 8th grade. We
tried everything last year - taking away cell phone, laptop, ipod,
grounding and pulling out the list of assignments and double checking
that the homework was completed. Unfortunately, none of this helped
us, but it may work with your son. It was a very stressful year. All
kids are different and these types of consequences will work with many
teens (it did with our older son) who went on to college.
I would like to caution you to be careful at BHS - for my son it went
from not doing homework to not going to class. Cutting is a BIG
problem at BHS. Especially for a 9th grader who is not used to having
the freedom to leave school whenever he/she choses. We decided to move
our son to Oakland Tech this year for that reason.
He's doing much better. He claims he learned his lesson at BHS.
Some kids need to make mistakes and suffer the consequences (summer
school,etc...) in order to learn. The teachers, counselor at BHS were
very helpful and supportive.If your son doesn't do the homework his
grades will suffer - we saw this happen. My son thought he just
because he got A's & B's on the classwork he could skip out on the
homework. I was constantly pointing out how all of the 0's on the
homework assignments lowered his grade. One thing that we always
point out is that he has to this for himself, as ultimately this type
of work ethic (getting by) will hurt him at school or on the job.
My advice is to get in touch with his teachers right away, and put him
on a weekly progress report. This is a good first step - your son
would have his teachers fill out the progress report each Friday. If
he his progress report is not satisfactory, or if he has missing
assignments ground him for the weekend or until you can verify that
the assignments have been completed. Completed schoolwork =
freedom. Hopefully, this will work for your family.
Former BHS parent
I am also a former BHS parent and want to add that my advise is to be
very careful with Berkeley High-my older son attended for 2 years to
graduate in the first IB class. He was and is a great
student/uninterested in drugs and takes sports seriously. My younger
son spiraled down so quickly it was breath-taking. Any teen with self
esteem issues and/or attention issues is in my opinion-not meant for
this high school. The result for our family has been emotionally
devastating and had an enormous financial impact. Looking back-I
don't know what I was thinking in placing him there.
also former BHS parent
Help! My child is a freshman at BHS. He has homework
everynight which keeps him up until 11 pm. He also has one
afterschool sport. How do parents/kids manage such a
big load of homework/studying for tests? It is hard
to see your child doing school work for hours in the
evening knowing they have already had 6 hrs of school as
well. I can see burnout coming on if this pace continues.
Any suggestions are welcome. Also, Edline has no
information, no homework posted, no grades. I have not
found it helpful as yet.
Depending where your kid has been before, and the classes
they chose, the amount of homework they need to do can
differ a lot. You've probably been to Back to school night
by now and have talked with the teachers. the amount of
time it takes is probably at least partly an organization
problem. My daughter tended to spend a lot of time on things
that were not essential, or even completely unnecessary like
decorating the borders of an English paper, for example.
Get your child to do their homework where you can keep an
eye on what they're doing, go through their priorities with
them, look at their folder and see if they're just spending
a lot of time finding stuff and so on. A non-family member
can help - we employed someone to work with her on some
study skills. There are free study skills workshops at the
school which every kid should go to.
To the parent agonizing over your child's homework load at
BHS, know that you are not alone, and that this is not
unique to BHS. It is a big problem across the board, in
public and private schools alike, from grade school (even
kindergarten!) through High School. As a parent, educator
and activist around public education issues, I would like
to direct you to a wonderful book, recently piublished, by
known author and speaker on education, Alfie Kohn. The
book is called The Homework Myth, and it basically debunks
all the unproven theories about what homework is suppoed
to produce (especially in the lower grades). Kohn shows
that the data just isn't there. Not only that, but the
imposition of loads of homework has had serious
deleterious affects on families, children and their
parents alike. For further info., check out Kohn's
website. Alfiekohn.org . Parents need to unite and
insist that this madness of pushing our kids beyond all
limits must stop! Colleges are already seeing the
negative affect the AP classes are having on incoming
Freshmen (they're terribly stressed out!). When is this
craziness going to end??? Also check out Calcare.org, a
grassroots organization of parents and teachers opposed to
all this testing madness (which is driving all the
curriculum and homework overload). Calcare will provide
speakers for local parent groups trying to educate
themselves on this and related matters. Good luck!
Fellow distressed parent
The key to getting homework done is organization and study skills. This has
to be part of what everyone is working on as well as the content that needs
be mastered in class.
Check and see if there is assistance for these topics at BHS.
Sit down with your student and look at their schedule. Do they have 20 min in
the morning before class to read a chapter? What is lunch like? Do they have
a study hall?
Find time, and a good place to do some studying throughout the day. Some
Berkeley Public Library on Shattuck
Coffee Shops on Shattuck
The classroom - get to class early and use times provided by the teacher
If your student is leaving things to the end of the day or just before they
due - at least they are doing them - but if they can learn to anticipate,
spread things out AND pinpoint the areas they need help they will be on their
way to a highly successful academic and possibly future professional life.
Also check and see if your student needs to increase their reading speed.
readers with accurate retention skills can cut their study time in half. I am
speaking of remediation for a non reader but really exceptional skills - I
that many adults today can barely get thru a page. This is a great program:
Make sure your home has a place to study without a lot of noise and
Reward your student for getting things done. Praise goes a long way. If you
''feel sorry'' for your student's work load - how will that affect how they
about it? Keep family commitments flexible because your students'
homework needs to be done. Curtail weekend movies and other social life if
reading assignments, papers, exam study isn't completed. Keep up the sport
if it is a good involvement - it creates a balanced life, but if your student
not put the effort into organizing time it goes before school requirements.
Also make sure there are healthy snacks around like fresh finger veggies,
fruit, nuts and other high energy foods. If you use fast foods, too many junk
snacks it will not support the kind of energy that is needed. Homework just
gets deeper and more demanding as the student advances.
I read with interest the letter from the parent about homework angst at BHS.
My daughter is in 9th grade at Berkeley High and also has ''homework angst''.
She is relatively well organized and an ''A'' student. She works straight
through from 4:30 in the afternoon until 10:30 at night with an hour break
for dinner and at least 8 hours on weekends. She's beginning to really dislike
At first I thought she was being perfectionistic, but when I sat down with her
and checked out what she was doing, I was surprised. She was basically
spending 30-40 minutes per subject and utilizing her time well, except in
Math, which averaged over 2 hours. The extra time was spent on big projects.
In my opinion, her Geometry teacher is focused on quantity not quality in
regard to homework. Once, I actually sat down and did the homework
assignment, which I think would be difficult to do in less than 2 hours. For
example, ''Draw the following 3 dimensional shape: A house in the shape of
a cylinder, with a cone roof, with a porch in the shape of a hexagonal prism.
It's harder than it sounds, because the measurements have to be exact.
There were 22 of these problems assigned for 1 nights homework. If each
problem took 5 minutes, that's 110 min. Many problems took 10-15 min.
MY QUESTIONS to experienced parents at BHS : How do I help my daughter
stay motivated with academics and still have a life? How do you deal with a
teacher with a bad rep? At Back to School Night, the math teacher was
absent, and apparently some of the angry parents met and are taking their
complaints to the administration. Will the administration respond positively
to parental input--does anything useful come from this type of involvement
or does it tend to be a waste of time?
P.S. I tend to agree with Alfie Kohn, and went to hear him speak last year
when he was here in Berkeley. I don't, however, see a practical way to
implement his ideas and research.
A Concerned Mom
Ah, the ''no child left untortured'' act comes to bite again.
Yes, you are correct in noting that the homework is
irrelevant and absurd, especially the mathematics. My
daughter took a 3-unit geometry course last summer at Ohlone
College (all math courses require a placement exam, and she
passed algebra 1), an intense six week half-day curriculum.
Comparing it to my son's year-long course at Los Gatos High
School with a (really) very good teacher, we found she did
far more proofs and came out with a much better grasp of the
subject. She's now in 9th grade and doing UC-credit
calculus, with a straight-A record at Ohlone in all her math
The problem is that high school is a cookie-cutter
manufacturing line, and the annoying busy-work is invented
to avoid tracking students into honors and regular courses,
which would entail greater expense to the school. Your good
student is not learning more - she is just spinning her
wheels on art projects and other such nonsense to *slow* the
course down. My son rebelled at this completely, and only
would do the minimum, so he'd do ''B'' work, but then
compensated for this by doing independent science project
research which brought him a lot of medals and awards,
internships, a scholarship and admission to UCLA (which he
dearly wanted to attend) when much higher GPA students were
My daughter saw the writing on the wall and literally begged
us to find a better solution, which Ohlone College provided,
but this requires a very mature and focused student since
attendance establishes a permanent college transfer record.
So this is not a solution one should undertake lightly, and
it should be instigated by the student, not the parent,
because the student must be the one who deals with
professors, schedules, homework and office / study hours
How do you deal with this at your school? I found absolutely
no way to communicate this issue to anyone at Los Gatos High
School, because it was the lousy teachers who were most
prone to do this and the administration doesn't care to do
their job. If it is any comfort, my son found that AP and
honors courses required just as much time as your daughter's
current load of lower-level courses but were more focused,
on-topic and interesting. So a ''happy medium'' might be to
accelerate your daughter in math by taking a summer course
in algebra 2 - once she's past the ''required'' math sequence
(see the high school for required versus advanced courses),
she might find a precalc or trig class to be much more
suited to her study skills and interests. As an extra
benefit, usually the best teachers teach advanced topics
like physics, AP chem, precalc/trig, calculus, AP Bio and so
forth, and you can get college credit for the AP exams. Good
To the second parent voicing similar concerns about HW at
BH being a source of angst, extremely time-consuming and
full of busy work, I would like to say there is indeed a
practical way to resist this illogical and counter-
intuative trend in schools to rachet up the homework and
curricular demands. First, as parents we must recognize
that schools are doing it in our names. They are claiming
to serve us, as families, by being ''rigorous'' for our
and our children's sake. It's a bunch of malarkey that was
instigated years ago by the business round-table of the
Reagan era. You can read all about the reactionary roots
of the ''standards movement'' in Kathy Emory's book, ''Why
is Corporate America Bashing our Public Schools?'' a
publication of her PhD. thesis. The second point is to
recognize that this craze will only stop when parents put
their foot down and say enough is enough. Parents who are
attuned to what their kids are going through, as you
surely are, must stand up and state ''not in our names.''
Not is our names will you turn my child into an automaton
who will end up hating education instead of loving it. As
a parent who has been through this, and now as a teacher,
I can assure you that this disease has caught hold in
every education sector, public and private. The only
option is for parents to get together and organize. As I
said in my last posting, check into CalCARE.org. We are
blessed to have the headquarters of this wonderful
grassroots organization right in the Bay Area standing by
to supply speakers, films and written materials so parents
can find out what teachers have known for a long time but
have been powerless to fight on their own. (Hear the
stirring testimony of teachers in the films.) There seems
to already be an organized group of parents at BH mainly
around this math teacher, so I would call a meeting and
build on that. Realize that parents have the power here.
Contact Calcare, use Alfie Kohn's book and organize
yourselves. Feel free to email me as well.
I am also reading with interest the posts about the heavy
homework load at BHS. I'm wondering which small school at
BHS these kids are in, because my 9th grader at BHS has
surprisingly little homework, and much less than he had at
King Middle School. He's in the SSJE program, which was his
second choice, after Academic Choice, which he vastly
preferred. Since the beginning of the school year, he has
finished ALL of his math (geometry) homework, every day in
class, and also the homework for some other classes. He has
maybe an hour or two of homework a night and hardly any on
Thinking it could be a bit more rigorous....
My daughter is in 9th grade at BHS (AC), and she is also
struggling with a huge homework load. She is up late every
night and spends much of the weekends working. Not only is
there a very heavy load in geometry and Latin (which she
expected), but also in English, social studies, science, and
even art! And yes, much of the homework seems to be busy work.
Wishing for lighter homework load at BHS
I would like to open a discussion of the amount of homework assigned. My
daughter (a BHS freshman) struggles with quite a bit of homework each night
and is already falling behind and feeling overwhelmed. Mostly because of
her own poor study habits, but partly because I work and she isn't able to
get to a "disciplined" place to do her homework until 6:00 pm or so, she
ends up being up until 11:00 or later almost every night and each morning
it is harder to get up and she still doesn't have the work done. She
routinely has homework in Math, Spanish, English, History, Intro to Comm
Tech and Drama, almost every night. Weekends are a drag because we have so
many errands to run and other things to do and we never get to plan any fun
days because the homework is always hanging over us. I'm tired of seeing
my kids having bags under their eyes and being as stressed out as I am.
They work a pretty long day at school and then devote almost all evening to
more work. Anyone else think it is too much? At least in Junior High, the
classes were staggered so they had homework every other night in each
class. I'd love to hear your opinions.
I would like to reply to the mother who thought that too much homework was
being assigned. I feel that my daughter has just about the right amount
(English, world history, honors geometry, Latin, drama). But she comes
right home and does it throughout the afternoon with a few breaks. Then in
the evening, when she's tired, she gets to relax if everything's all done.
You say that your daughter can't get to a "disciplined" place until 6:00.
I'm not sure exactly what you mean. Is she coming home by herself or is
she hanging out somewhere? Could she go to the Berkeley Public Library?
If she is waiting until she's tired to do her homework, no wonder she's
having problems. I don't have any suggestions. I just want to say that I
don't want to see less homework. I hope you find a solution.
There are various "homework clubs" that I have seen mentioned around the
city. Is there any such thing at BHS? Perhaps one could be started if
lack of a place to do homework is a wide-spread problem.
I was told by Ms. Saunders that she has no control over how much homework
the teachers assign their students, just as she has no control over what
they choose to teach (she cited the "ed code" to me).
My experience with teachers is that they won't even listen if you suggest
they are assigning too many hours-worth of homework. My daughter had one
history teacher who assigned at least an hour of homework every night
"because I know the kids are spending that on their science homework and I
think history should be just as important" and, believe me, most of that
history homework was pointless.
My advice would be to find a way for your daughter to get started earlier (maybe at the library) and to get used to a different rhythm at home. My daughter, too, spent hours and hours on homework, but now she's at a really great college. Helen
Your own words captured the problem: poor study habits. You and your daughter have to realize that YOUR DAUGHTER has to accept responsibility for her actions. Her fulltime job, while she is under your auspices, is to attend school and get an education. Your job, while she is on school, is to help her to realize that her choices create consequences.
I have the opposite problem. My son is a freshman and he has, or rather claims to have, only about 15 minutes of homework every night. There are all kinds of reasons like "the teacher didn't have time to assign any" and "we did it in class" and "we had a test today so there isn't any". I am pretty sure, based on previous experience, that he is blowing it off. But what can I do? He already isn't allowed to go to friends' after school, only gets 2 hours of TV for the week, can't play video games during the week, etc. So he does his 10 minutes of math homework and 5 minutes of reading and then he just sits around reading comic books for a few hours. Options for me: call his friends, call the teachers, sign him up for afterschool tutoring ... I kind of feel like he's in high school now and I'm kind of tired of doing this kind of monitoring, which never has been very effective in the past anyhow. Sigh.
Toooooo much homework!
I agree and disagree with your concerns. First, I am in the same
situation--don't get home until after 6, but my daughter is a junior and
has been on the varsity soccer and softball teams since her freshman year,
so discipline and time management have always been a must in order to keep
her grades up. Nevertheless, she wants a social life, and suffers for it
by partying with friends on weekends leaving Sunday from about 4pm to 1am
for homework. I supervise UCB students. Here's a tip from one of my Cal
students, a senior with great study habits, great grades, with a job
working at least 12 hours a week: does his "hard" stuff first (the
writing, calculating, labored work); leaves reading for last which he says
takes hours. So, first, divide up the homework and get it started right
after school (may have to give up some time hanging out with friends after
school). Homework is a reality in college, high school, and even
elementary school where my son is in 3rd grade and gets homework every
night. My daughter does her homework in the car, on the ski slopes (not
literally), on a soccer field (literally), etc. Freshman year is a really
tough adjustment, but believe me it will get easier and academically harder
(a "two-edged sword"). Give guidelines (e.g., splitting up homework by
doing the easiest or hardest first; go to the library every day, a very
"disciplined" place to do homework, with you picking her up from there in
the evenings), and adjust your lifestyle by making academics the top
To be honest, I don't think high school students are in school long enough.
What should they be doing, in any event, if they spend less time in school?
High school teens are the very best at wasting time doing what they do
best--"kicking" it with friends. My feeling here is if they were in school
all day (not just hearing lectures but given assignments to work on in
class) with the proviso they not get homework except for reading and/or
special projects, then they could come home and pretty much leave the
classroom behind them. I just saw an interesting story on "60 Minutes"
about a public middle school in South Bronx, New York, where they
"contract" with parents, teachers and the student to be in school all day
(at least 8 hours) and on weekends. The achievement level of these
students has skyrocketed, especially impressive is the number of
novels/books they read in a school year (over 20, I recall). This idea
sounds extreme, but for many minorities who feel Caucasians have an
academic edge, it is on target for catching up and going beyond in
academics, targeting junior high school age kids whose intellects can be
shaped to work hard and absorb knowledge. In Japan, they have always had a
tradition of long school hours, but the problem is there are no
alternatives to this tradition. I don't like seeing my child stressed, but
I feel for her future it's up to me to focus on the long vision and hers to
deal with the now and to learn to deal with stress. I keep the long vision
in focus by reminding her often that academics is the priority over sports
and a social life (she may not see this as helpful, but I enforce this
philosophy). There are no easy solutions really, just the knowledge that
hard work will eventually bring great results, in anything, including
academics. "Fun" is no longer a priority but becomes the reward for
Too much homework? My son (10th grade) barely has any! He didn't have
much last year either. His grades were mostly A's, too. I don't think
he's getting much of an education. But there's no way to prove that gut
feeling until they come home with those abysmal scores on the SAT 2's.
Here's my question: how do you get kids to get motivated to do more than
what's required, extend themselves, when they get such good results (A's)
from doing so little? I have never (in the five years I've been a Berkeley
High parent) had any success in getting poor or mediocre teachers (and my
children have had a few, some with many parent complaints and still
teaching) to change ANYTHING about what they were doing in the classroom.
My daughter, who graduated last year, took AP courses, had high test
scores, and great grades. However (for an example), she NEVER wrote a
research paper at Berkeley High. Most of my conversations with various
people about this over the years (teachers, department chair, counselor,
vice principal) were unsatisfactory. Research papers (since I'm using this
example) are definitely required by the curriculum. Everyone assured me
that the kids were doing them (and probably some kids are). I don't know,
I figure a research paper is something that is longer than 3 pages, has
some footnotes, a bibliography with a number of sources, a topic. My
daughter never did one and my son didn't do one last year. (And knowing
his current history teacher, he won't do one this year, either.)
On the other hand, my daughter was always a reader and on her own took some
outside-of-BHS courses. (The kids do UC Extension concurrent enrollment,
Vista and sometimes Laney). My son is not at all interested in doing
anything like this. I definitely feel the burden is on the parents to do
some of the school's work, but what to do when the kids don't see it that
way? (Of course, I believe in parent involvement and, in the long run, and
as a committed member of the community, that's the most important thing we
can do. However, I'm worried about the education of this particular child
at this particular time.) I'll be a BHS parent for another six years so I
am really interested in both long term and short term, right now,
approaches to poor teaching.
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