Thursday, November 15, 2012

Drugs and Homework Policy

I saw this article "Parents learn about youth subcultures, substance abuse," and it made me think about the issue of our current drug problem, the power of youth subcultures, and how homework policy can drive certain youth into unhealthy subcultures. Here's the comment I submitted to the paper:

One can never underestimate the importance of subculture among youth. It is why adolescents get involved in drinking and drugs. It is why some kids navigate through those years with some experimentation but come out okay on the other end. It is why nice kids in violent prone urban environments find their lives in shambles even though they are not, is essence, any different from kids that do well.
I have seen this happen for many years through my work as a psychologist. Although there are many entry points with which one can look at teen behavior, the one that I've focused on the most has been homework policy.

It seems to me that our obsession with homework, our willingness to punish noncompliance so severely, and our policies that exclude kids from the mainstream who don't get their homework done (particularly through athletic eligibility rules), based on misconceptions about why they don't do the work, has been a significant factor driving a subset of youth away from healthy peer groups and into negative subcultures.


Dr. Kenneth Goldberg, is the author of The Homework Trap: How to Save the Sanity of Parents, Teachers, and Students, published by Wyndmoor Press.

 I recommend giving copies of the book to the teachers at your child's school. Discount purchases are available through Wyndmoor Press. Single copies can be purchased at Amazon.

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