|Nonschool Influences On Learning
Schools are fighting a tough battle against a peer culture
that disparages academic success, according to Laurence Steinberg in Beyond the classroom:
Why School Reform Has Failed and What Parents Need To Do. Based on a 10 year collaboration
of university research teams, the book analyzes the ways in which parents, peers and
communities influence students commitment to school. Steinberg suggests that school
reform cannot work unless these outside forces are recognized as the key factors in
students willingness to learn and strive for academic success.
According to the author, disengaged parents and an anti-learning attitude among
adolescent peers are two of the biggest factors that discourage student achievement. Based
on the findings of a nationwide study of more than 20,000 students from diverse
socioeconomic and ethnic backgrounds, conducted over the last 10 years by a collaborative
effort of three university research teams, Steinberg concludes:
- American students time out of school is seldom spent in activities that reinforce
what they are learning in their classes. The average American high school student spends
about four hours a week on homework outside of school. says the author, while in other
industrialized countries the average is about four hours a day. And half of all the.
surveyed students reported not doing the homework they were assigned. More typically,
Steinberg writes, students time and energy are focused on activities that compete with.
rather than complement, their studies: two-thirds of high school students are employed,
with half working more than 15 hours weekly.
- Students peer culture disparages academic success. Steinberg reports that fewer
than on in five students said their friends think it is important to get good grades in
school. Nearly 20 percent of all students said they do not try as hard as they can in
school because they are worried about what their friends might think.
- American parents are just as disengaged from schooling as their children are. More than
half of all students said they could bring home grades of C or worse without their parents
getting upset, and nearly one-third said their parents have no idea how they are doing in
school. Only about one-fifth of parents consistently attend school programs. while more
than 40 percent never do, according to the author.