When I started this blog last summer, one of my first entries was about schools that had cut back on summer homework. There, I wrote about the principal of Needham High, Paul Richards (whom I had interviewed for The Case Against Homework), an educator who’s concerned about the amount of stress today’s students face.
Paul Richards was in the news again recently because he put an end to the tradition of publishing the honor roll in the local newspaper, a move which subjected him to ridicule on national TV. But, according to Richards, high schools stress contributes to increased incidents of suicide, eating disorders, drug abuse, and other self-destructive behaviors.
According to the Boston Globe, Richards recently outlined several new initiatves to combat stress among students, including surveying students about their anxieties; consulting the Benson-Henry Institute for Mind Body Medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital; and forming a stress-reduction committee of students, parents, and teachers. He also said he’d ask teachers to be more flexible in their assignment deadlines, noting that college professors often hand out a syllabus at the start of a semester that list windows of time to turn in projects and reports. And he plans to ask teachers to make sure they clearly state the objective of assignments, so that students are not left feeling they’re doing busywork.