The Public Interest

The homework wars

David Skinner

Winter 2004

THE American child, a gloomy chorus of newspapers, magazines and books tells us, is overworked. All spontaneity is being squeezed out of him by the vice-like pressures of homework, extracurricular activities, and family. “Jumping from Spanish to karate, tap dancing to tennis—with hours of homework waiting at home— the overscheduled child is as busy as a new law firm associate,” reports the New York Times. The article goes on to describe a small counter-trend in which some parents are putting a stop to the frenzy and letting their children, for once in their little harried lives, simply hang out or, as one of the insurgent parents explains, enjoy an informal game of pickup.

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