Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Two in the Middle

I recently received this email and wanted to share it with my blog readers.  I applaud Pamela's efforts to do something creative, effective, productive and loving for her daughter.  Please read her story:

Dear Kerry,

I so admire the effort you have put into changing the way your school district looks at homework.  I know you wish it were even better, but what you accomplished was huge.

Alfie Kohn's book The Homework Myth gave my UCLA professor husband and I the courage to reconsider the importance of having any homework during 7th and 8th grade, when we home-schooled our daughter.  When our daughter Natalie arrived home each day from her 6th grade class (where the focus was preparing the children for middle school) looking as depleted as the most overworked adult we knew, we made a bold decision.  We decided to jump off the stress wagon to help her rediscover the joy of learning and healthy living.   By home schooling for two years, our daughter was able to wholeheartedly delve into subjects, which included not only history and math, but also music, dance and gardening.   She did not have homework, although she read every night for pleasure, which I know expanded her vocabulary better than vocabulary lists and quizzes.  By the end of 8thgrade, she was totally prepared for high school, and all of us were healthier and happier.   And we purposely chose a high school with a healthy homework policy.  I've recently completed a memoir about our adventure, which I hope will be published sooner than later.  You might like to visit my website: Two in the Middle 

Best regards,


  1. interesting timing. We are about to embark on an interesting study. Our twin girls are going in two different directions. Both in middle school now. One to stay, one to home school. I am excited and a bit daunted by the stretch. But, happy to get off the "homework" band wagon and the get the (overwelming amount of pages) assignment done. One kid seems to thrive on the challenge. The other looks more and more beleaguered.
    Wish us luck.

  2. There is a HUGE epidemic of our students that are going to college (again, those 90+% statistics that we hear), but.....do they all graduate? NOPE. What is that percentage? I think it's pretty high. Perhaps my question is that of those that go directly on to a 4-year university, how many are coming back home by year two? And why? The answer to that question, might just go back to your vision about elementary and middle school, homework, that familiar "race" that I call "the rodent wheel." As we are being told that we are preparing our children for college and adulthood, they are completing the course work and they are also being told they are ready - are they? Do we assume that means they will succeed in college? I am very concerned that is the message that we and our young people hear. I think that's reality. However, another hard reality is on average, I "think" most college-bound students that can achieve, are not being properly and equally prepared at the high school level. This, I'm almost certain of now. I think some of the issues of concern that you experienced in the elementary and middle school years are at the core of this. The structure and preparation that was robbing us of our family time and our children's childhood, is what is exactly needed to gradually be learned during the high school years. We're making little adults out of these young children, yet in high school they are not learning the adult coping and learning skills (studying/structure) that are needed in the adult/college worlds. We are robbing children of their childhood during these years, yet instead of transitioning them into structure and self-discipline that is needed to succeed in college and at 18+, our culture is not equipping them with these other skills during the high school years.

  3. Kerry,
    I just found your blog. I see you are a good friend of Sara Bennett's. I also know Sara and she and I have worked together on our efforts to achieve homework reform. I'm glad to see what you are doing, and I share your concerns.
    Ken Goldberg