Monday, July 25, 2005


Time spent studying vs. time spent with TV, movies, Instant Messengering, iPods, and computer games . . . I wonder what the ratio is among Nebraska’s public-school students in Grades 7-12.

Could it possibly be one hour of academics for every two hours of amusement? That’s what the education activist in the following column says is happening all around the country.

A caring, concerned school board would survey its students to find out – and if students and teachers are slackin’ off like this, apply the Board of Education to the Seat of Knowledge in retooling school for a renewed academic focus:


A Cry for An Academic Refocus

Q. School these days seems to be more about group dynamics, conflict resolution, special-interest propaganda, sports and “fun” than anything else. Doesn’t anyone want to see a return to strict academics?

Plenty of people do. Consider this excerpt from a column by William Fitzhugh of the online publication The Concord Review (

“Today’s college freshmen are ready to use computers, they look forward to an active social life in college, most have participated in community service and several extracurricular activities, and they have taken the new SAT with its writing test.

”How ready are they for the academic demands of their college classes? In Massachusetts, which is usually mentioned as among those having the highest graduation standards, 34% of freshmen at state four-year colleges and 65% of freshmen at state two-year colleges are enrolled in remedial classes, according to The Boston Globe, and they will not be able to engage in regular college classes until they finish the remedial ones.

“Of course we want our high school students to be athletic, social, popular, and involved in their communities, but this spring the Indiana University Study of High School Student Engagement surveyed 90,000 students and found that more than half (55%) spend three hours a week or less on homework, and a Kaiser Foundation study this spring reported that the average high school student spends more than 6 hours a day with electronic entertainment media of one kind or another. . . .

“A study done for The Concord Review in 2002 found that the majority (62%) of our high school students no longer write a single 12-page research paper in school, and it seems likely that a majority, at least of public high school students, may no longer be assigned a single nonfiction book while they are in high school. . . .

“Perhaps there is good and growing reason to be concerned about the academic competitiveness of students in Singapore, Taiwan, Finland and Ireland, not to mention China and India, and we could decide to re-consider our high school academic culture, which celebrates athletics wholeheartedly, yet allows for three hours a week of homework and 44 hours a week for video games, etc.”

Homework: William Fitzhugh’s article is posted with a wealth of other education articles on

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