It’s summer, so that means the annual bashing of the traditional school break has begun. An article in Slate seems to take exception with the idea that children get a three-month break from school when adults are “toiling as usual” during the summer. On his blog, Alexander Russo points to another reason “to get rid of the long summer break”: a U.S. News report on the increase in serious injuries that occur while children are out of school. I wonder if the critics of summer break were ever children. If they were, they seem to have missed, or ...


I’ve already heard more than a few times the dreaded words of a child in the midst of summer break: “I’m bored.” Or my daughter’s version: “I’m Sooooo bored!” Of course the complaint is not an accurate reflection of summer vacation for many middle- and upper-income children, who have a wealth of activities lined up to keep them busy until the next school bell. They tend to learn from those library and museums visits, family outings and vacations, summer camps and sporting events, albeit subconsciously or involuntarily. A recent report from researchers at Johns Hopkins University ...


There's a lot of talk lately about how schools should be teaching so-called "soft skills," such as punctuality, respect for deadlines, working well with others, and time management. Undoubtedly, these are very important skills and most of them are all about motivation. But the question is: Should schools really be responsible for teaching such skills? The LeaderTalk blog weighs in on this issue with the perspective of an administrator who grew up in a working-class, coal-mining community where everyone learned soft skills early on through jobs they worked at outside of school. Here is an excerpt from that blog post: "I...


Barry Schwartz, a psychology professor at Swarthmore College, wrote a fascinating op-ed piece in the New York Times this week about New York City's plan to pay students up to $500 for doing well in school. Mr. Schwartz argues that offering external perks to students can actually be detrimental in the long run because the expectation of rewards replaces the intrinsic satisfaction students receive from learning. Fellow Education Week blogger Diane Ravitch also tore into the plan last month in this piece on The Huffington Post. Growing up, I was always envious of kids whose parents gave them money for ...


The Science After School blog links to an article that asks the question: Why Do Some People Resist Science? Indeed, a very good question. As K-12 schools search for better ways to improve math and science education, this is a question that must be asked and answered from classrooms to the highest levels of education research and policymaking. If educators, researchers, and policymakers don't truly understand where that resistance and lack of motivation comes from, they will have a hard time figuring how to get more kids fired up about finding a cure for cancer or understanding the causes of ...


I've seen a ton of articles this graduation season about schools choosing to do away with class rank. For example, from today: "Schools playing down valedictorian honors." The whole thing's become too competitive, school leaders and parents say. But for many high schoolers, being at the top—or at least near the top—is a strong motivation to get good grades and take accelerated courses (if their school gives them extra weight when calculating rank). It'll be interesting to see how this plays out....


Twenty years ago, George Weiss and his then-wife, Diane, offered an entire class of 6th graders an opportunity that would make many students green with envy. Finish high school, the Weisses said, and we'll pay for your college education. Some kids took full advantage of the offer. For example, Jarmaine Ollivierre, a former special ed student, has earned a slew of degrees and now works as an engineer for NASA. Despite the standouts, though, only 20 out of the 112 students ended up getting a bachelor's degree. That's less than 18 percent. Just goes to show you that not even ...


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