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Newsday letters to the editor for Wednesday, June 20, 2018

In the fall of 2018, Long Beach public

In the fall of 2018, Long Beach public schools will eliminate "traditional" homework -- such as workbooks and repetitive drills in math and spelling -- and instead encourage children to read at home. Credit: iStock

Kudos to Long Beach elementary schools for eliminating traditional homework in favor of more “reading, wonder, and play” [“For K-5 kids in Long Beach, end to homework looms,” News, June 8].

The research is clear that movement enhances brain function. Endless worksheets in service of overtesting do not result in knowledge retention or love of learning.

Staff development on crafting non-traditional homework assignments could enhance family time in the service of true learning.

Children, siblings and parents might sharpen math skills as they look for geometric shapes on their ways home, build literacy and social studies content as they interview grandparents about changes they’ve seen in their lives, and activate estimation and science skills as they plan and make family dinner.

When we define homework assignments as rote work, the only solution is to eliminate homework. However, if we let assignments reflect John Dewey’s maxim that “Education is not preparation for life, education is life itself,” then homework can nurture critical thinkers, the foundation of our democracy.

If homework can be reconceived, who knows? Maybe in-school activities, assignments and assessments can be rethought to foster reading, wonder, play and critical thinking. Our children — and our democracy — deserve no less.

Andrea S. Libresco,Hempstead

Editor’s note: The writer is a professor of teaching, learning and technology at Hofstra University.

Long Beach schools Superintendent Jennifer Gallagher cites studies that homework doesn’t help students very much in kindergarten through fifth grade. She also says students often are too tired from doing their homework to do what is even more beneficial, which is to read.

So rather than assign reading as homework, she says the better idea is to make it voluntary and put it on parents. Brilliant!

Nassau County schools: where the pay and the benefits can never be high enough, and the bar can never be set low enough.

Tommy Gregoretti,Oceanside