Included in this study about how technology and social media can hurt work productivity is a bit of information that explains how homework hurts children.
High school parents, does this sound familiar to you?
Does your kid “do homework almost every day on Saturday and Sunday, working until late at night every day?”
Do your kids stay up late doing homework every (or almost every) school night? Do they spend several hours on homework on the weekends?
Do you have trouble going out of town on school holidays because your students are assigned homework over school breaks?
Well, the quote above isn’t exactly about homework. The quote is actually what some parent’s said about their daughter’s work situation.
[She would] “work almost every day on Saturday and Sunday, working until late at night every day…”
Going to school and doing homework are the “work” of our kids. (And some have outside jobs which is also work.)
Now, what if I also told you that the young woman the parents were talking about was a Japanese woman who died of congestive heart failure at age 31? A government investigation found her cause of death to be her “work life.”
This is not the first time I have read articles about death from over-work in Japan. In fact, death from work stress is so common that the Japanese have a name for it, “karoshi,” or “death from overwork.”
You might look at the title of the article, Young Worker Clocked 159 Hours of Overtime in a Month. Then She Died, and think it is so extreme that it doesn’t apply to you and your child. But I think they took the most extreme week this poor girl worked and used it for the headline. There were several quotes that felt chillingly familiar to me.
She rarely took weekends off.
My high school kids have homework every. Single. Weekend. Even though we have tried to moderate their schedules and they don’t have as many AP classes as their friends.
She worked until midnight nearly every night.
This was happening to our kids until we moderated their classes by parental restrictions on how many AP classes they could take. (Yes, we told our teenagers they couldn’t take every class they wanted to. We see it as our job to protect their health, even when it makes them unhappy with us.) Staying up until midnight or later still happens more than we would like it to.
… a country where exhaustion is often seen as a sign of diligence.
This was a quote about Japan. But it could just as well be a quote about the United States. Even more amazing and admired? If you can manage to hide your exhaustion.
[she was] “in a state of accumulated fatigue and chronic sleep deprivation” at the time of her death.
My kids have friends who fall asleep in class. So far, my kids haven’t done that. (Not that I’ve found out about!) But there are still too many school weeks where I know they are sleep deprived. I fear that the teenage love of Starbucks is fueled by more than the love for the taste of coffee.
Japan first recognized their problem with karoshi in the 80s. They are still struggling to do anything to correct it.
Think about it, when do kids learn their work ethic? How many times have you told them that doing their homework is important for that reason?
But we have lost sight of the fact that school is when kids also learn their sense of life-work balance.
Add up the number of hours your child is in school. (37.5) Add mandatory hours for their chosen extracurricular activity. Add homework. Are you past 40 work hours per week yet? How far past? Now remember that the 40 hour rule is a guideline for adults, not children.
Are our kids learning life-work balance? Judging from the skyrocketing cases of anxiety and depression on colleges campuses, the scale is about to tip.
How long until “karoshi” becomes the American word for “death from overwork?”
Read more about karoshi, over-work, and the effects of sleep deprivation
It’s always gratifying when research backs up what you’ve been personally experiencing. And the research comes from Harvard, no less! Last year Harvard released the report, Turning the Tide. Their research shows that college admission practices are damaging our children and are harmful to society. And the press responded favorably, giving them a lot of positive press coverage for the report….
It’s an understatement to say that admission to Stanford is competitive. The acceptance rate is less than 5%. But that college application stress caused by these admission requirements is harmful to students and society is less well known, even after all the good press Harvard University got for its report, Turning the Tide.
At Stanford University, Challenge Success has been trying for a decade to highlight the corrosive educational policies driven by college application requirements. They provide research and information to help parents and high schools alleviate college application stress.
But in spite of this research at their own institutions, Harvard and Stanford continue to use the same admission criteria. It follows that they hold the opinion that while these requirements may be harmful to most students, the elite students they admit to their own universities are up to the competition and experience no harmful effects. But is this true?…
It’s no secret, admission to the top universities in the United States is very, very competitive. But the fact that these admission requirements are detrimental to students and society is less well known, even after all the good press Harvard University got for its report, Turning the Tide.
At Stanford University, Challenge Success has been trying for a decade to highlight these corrosive educational policies and help parents and high schools alleviate the detrimental effects.
But has either university taken the advice of their own experts and changed their admission requirements?
A recent article in the New York Times highlights a school in the Boston area that has high levels of academic achievement. The school has lots of awards, high test scores, high rates of acceptance to Ivy League universities, and unfortunately the all too common occurrence of high rates of student anxiety. And a high student suicide rate. Another parent from our high school sent me this article and resonated with me for several reasons.
Truth test – matching up with my own experiences
It passes the truth test of fitting with some of my own observations.
It shares many similarities with our own academically competitive high school, although not quite to the same extreme. (Or maybe that is hopeful denial.)
But I also have the added insight of having relatives whose children recently finished high school in the Greater Boston area (but a different school.) …
Are your sweet kids starting to act like teenagers?
Does this sound familiar to you?
One winter I suddenly realized that the kids in our house were moody and broody. Every little request was a huge imposition on their time and space.
“Could you clear the table after supper?”
“But I have so much HOMEWORK to do.” <whine>
Everything was “impossible.”
Everything else was a crisis. (Yes, I realized you can’t have more than “everything,” but we’re talking about teenagers here.)…
In my last post about How Children Succeed, by Paul Tough, I covered how a student’s GPA is more a measure of self-discipline than IQ. The education system is set up to reward students with self-discipline and high GPAs with admission into college. In How Children Succeed, success of disadvantaged students was measured by whether or not they went on to graduate from college. In spite of this, Tough, surprisingly, concludes that the ability to perform well in the ways that school measures aren’t a good predictor of success, even though here success is measured by going on to college.
Specifically, good grades and lots of homework aren’t good predictors of success, and in fact can lead to stress that actually inhibits success….
A couple months ago I slipped on some water. I could tell you that I managed to catch all my weight with my right hand, so that I didn’t even get a bruise on any other part of my body.
Or I could tell you — that the over-achievement of my right arm and hand led to breaking my wrist.
Which has turned out to be more of a pain, in every possible definition of the word, than I thought it would be. Of course, I’m right handed. So this post, typed with one hand, will be short.
Related to the subject of this blog, I’ve been gathering information about education, job prospects, and entrepreneurship. This episode of the podcast Start Up, by Gimlet Media, shows an interesting connection between them. In this episode, the ADULT employees talk about the effects of their late hours and stress are having on their health and personal lives.
Their schedule sounds remarkably like high-achieving high school TEENS I know….
So after deciding that we thought the full advanced placement courses class load was a treadmill to no-where that was increasing in speed, we started out with recommending our kids take partial AP loads. But, we found that our kids weren’t getting as much out of their classes. Maybe the path the school was recommending for top students – a full AP load – was the right one after all.
The problem is that the standard advice – given by all high schools – is to take as many preAP/AP courses as you possibly can. This means that most of the serious students are in the preAP/AP classes….