Tuesday September 06, 2016

September 6, 2016 full episode transcript

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The Current Transcript for September 6, 2016

Host: Anna Maria Tremonti

STORIES FROM THIS EPISODE

Listen to the full episode

Prologue

[Music: Theme]

SOUNDCLIP

[Child throwing tantrum]

I don’t like doing homework.

ANNA MARIA TREMONTI: Brace yourself, it's begun. Emotions around homework don't end in childhood. At a time when some educators are tracking a rise in tutoring, the fight over banning homework remains strong. The debate over homework can be incendiary and all sides have done their homework on that. You will hear it in an hour. And if you think that's disruptive on the home and school front, look around.

SOUNDCLIP

So often today, our expectations are being proven wrong. We're just continually shocked by big events that are reshaping the world and we don't have a good handle on them.

AMT: We live in a world where assumptions, expectations and realizations are being upended at a rapid and startling rate, replaced by new ways of thinking and new technologies that can enable or disable or re-imagine and recreate so much from how we lived to how we work, to if we work and how we think. The man you just heard believes this moment in time is so profound that it’s akin to a second renaissance— that we've moved from Gutenberg to Zuckerberg with all the excitement and discovery and discomfort that implies. Chris Kutarna joins me in half an hour as we kick off our season-long project, The Disruptors. But we begin stateside today, where the US presidential election campaign is upending all sorts of normal. You've heard about regular Americans. On this one, time to hear from them. I'm Anna Maria Tremonti. This is The Current.

Back To Top »

'Hillary man or Trump man?' Maybe neither: Virginians on U.S. election

SOUNDCLIP

DONALD TRUMP: Now we can focus on Hillary, that crook.

[Crowd cheering]

DONALD TRUMP: I can focus on Hillary. Crooked Hillary. We can focus on Hillary.

HILLARY CLINTON: A man you can bait with a tweet is not a man we can trust with nuclear weapons.

[Many voices at once]

AMT: This has been one of those summers when I felt like a nosy neighbour listening to the ruckus on the other side of the wall. You know what I’m talking about. Donald. Hillary. The accusations. The allegations. And the coverage. The panels. The pundits. And you’re just left wondering, what are they thinking over there? This was a summer when I tried to find out, with a road trip.

[Sound: Car starting]

[Music: Bluegrass]

AMT: It didn't start out that way. I was really in Virginia in search of the best of bluegrass with plans to drive down a highway called the Crooked Road. It's part of the Blue Ridge Mountain area—the stretch of Virginia that meets up with North Carolina, Tennessee, Kentucky, West Virginia—the region they call Appa-lay-sha or Appa-la-chia if you're local.

[Sound: Feet clattering]

AMT: Which is how I ended up at the Floyd Country Store. That's right. The locals are dancing at the store. And that other noise? A whole bunch of them are wearing tap shoes. They’re flat dancing, clog dancing. They are literally a clatter of flying feet.

[Sound: Feet clattering]

AMT: This is not just any store. By day, they sell kitchen stuff and T-shirts. They sell lunch. Instruments, even.

SOUNDCLIP

We have a mountain dulcimer. This one’s handmade.

AMT: But every Friday night, they roll the shelves aside, the popcorn machine comes out and there's a jamboree.

[Sound: Fiddle playing]

AMT: It’s become such a thing that outside the store, there's more music. People of all ages playing in clusters. People of all ages just listening. So how could I resist?

AMT: [Interviewing] I'm with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation and I'm doing a story on the Crooked Road, but I'm also not just curious about music, I'm curious about American politics.

JEREMY CUP: Oh. [chuckles]

AMT: So I want to ask if you’re a Hillary man or a Donald man.

JEREMY CUP: [Chuckles] I would say I’m a Trump guy.

AMT: That’s Jeremy Cup. He’s standing around with his kids, enjoying the music.

JEREMY CUP: I agree with every word this man has ever said. I just am afraid he’s a little hot-headed so who knows how that’ll work out when it comes time to— [chuckles]

AMT: You don't agree with the hot-headed stuff.

JEREMY CUP: Well, I do. I just think a man in that position needs to not get redneck about it. That’s for in the parking lot with your friends.

ANNA MARIA TREMONTI: What appeals to you most about him?

JEREMY CUP: He kind of appeals to what America was 20 years ago, you know? What I guess the working side of America, you know. The good old boys, not taking no crap and fixing things and there’s right and wrong and no grey area. And I like that. Too many feelings involved these days. [laughs]

AMT: What do you think of her?

JEREMY CUP: The woman’s the devil. [laughs] Yeah. Out and out. I mean she’s a thief, a murderer, a liar. And I can’t see how she’s even eligible to run for presidency at this point.

[Music: Bluegrass]

AMT: In front of the country store under a sign that says “Please Loiter,” I find Fred Craig and Florence Purdue.

FLORENCE PURDUE: Every Friday night.

FRED CRAIG: I’m here every once in a while, not every Friday night.

FLORENCE PURDUE: You’re here most of them.

FRED CRAIG: Most of the time.

AMT: I'm guessing they're in their eighties and they're guessing this is not a good election year.

FRED CRAIG: If I voted, it’d be for Hillary.

FLORENCE PURDUE: Yeah. If I voted, I’d vote for her too.

AMT: Now, you both said if, so…

FLORENCE PURDUE: I quit. I quit years ago.

FRED CRAIG: I’m not going to vote either.

FLORENCE PURDUE: It just got to the point I didn’t see anybody that was worth voting for.

AMT: Not a lot of love for the system around here. I keep asking.

GREG LOCKE: I’m a Bernie man.

AMT: That’s Greg Locke. He says he’s an Army vet and a retired sign painter. And as we talk, I hear something that will echo throughout this road trip. There's a real disconnect between regular people and the candidates.

GREG LOCKE: They're so far out of touch with reality that it's not even describable. They don't live like normal people. They don’t have worries like normal people. They just—they’re clueless. They hire people to tell them what people like us are like. [chuckles]

AMT: How about you? Are you a Donald man or a Hillary man?

DAVID MCCLELLEN: Uh, Donald. I think he's kind of a loose cannon but you know what, maybe the country needs that. Maybe it needs a shakeup. So we'll just have to see. But I think Hillary though is going to be the closest thing to putting us into a civil war as anything we've ever seen before.

AMT: Why is that? Do you think the country's that polarized?

DAVID MCCLELLEN: I think that what she's going to try and press and push is going to have a lot of people against each other. Gun control. That’s the big one I think she is really going to be taking a hit on.

AMT: Are you a gun owner?

DAVID MCCLELLEN: Sure. Everybody around here is.

AMT: Ahh, guns. Virginia is an open carry state. Though as we keep driving down the Crooked Road, it seems the only thing they're packing around here has strings.

[Sound: Fiddle playing “The Star-Spangled Banner”]

AMT: Next stop, Galax. Population: 7,000. A one-time manufacturing hub—furniture, textiles. Today, there's one furniture factory left. For the last 81 years, Galax has also hosted the Old Fiddler’s Convention, a magnet for lovers of old time music. There are tents and trailers and chairs out and lights up and beer in the coolers.

SOUNDCLIP

[Unintelligible] here with number 34.

AMT: But the fiddle and the banjo and the guitar competitions kind of seem like a sideshow. The real action happens as people scope out the camps, find a few people playing and join in.

JODY VISSAGE: We don't do any competitions. We just come for the jammin’ and the fellowship, to meet people and see old friends and pick.

AMT: And boy, can they pick.

JODY VISSAGE: I meet Jody Vissage because she's playing a mandolin with a cluster of people whose music I just can't get enough of. I just stand there listening.

[Music: Bluegrass]

[Sound: Crowd clapping and cheering]

AMT: When they finally take a break, we talk politics.

JODY VISSAGE: I'm not wild about either one, but choices be, I'm leaning a little more toward Trump.

AMT: And why is that?

JODY VISSAGE: They will—[laughs] make America great again. Well, I don't—I’ve just seen what the past eight years have been and I'm afraid that would just be kind of a repeat with Ms. Clinton.

AMT: And what do you like about Trump? Like what is it that you like about him the most?

JODY VISSAGE: I guess because he's got guts. [laughs] He seems to not be a typical run of the mill Washington politician. I just feel like it would—he would look out more for—I don’t know if you’d say—average people. Common people.

AMT: Danny Bowers is part of that same little group playing with Jody. He's not so sure.

DANNY BOWERS: I'll tell you what. In all reality, I'm going to hold my nose when I go into the ballot box. I’m afraid so. Can I come to Canada? [laughs]

AMT: You bring your banjo.

DANNY BOWERS: I bring my banjo, go to Canada, that’s it.

AMT: Virginia was a Republican stronghold but Obama changed that. Not so much in this corner of the state though. I find a lot of Trump people here. They aren't like those strident, insult-slinging pundits you see on US cable. But in this place where you can't even always get a phone signal, they seem isolated and alienated.

FRED BOBBIT: Well, I feel like Mr. Trump has—he's telling people what they need to hear and it’s scaring Washington to death.

AMT: Fred Bobbit is the governor of the Moose Lodge—proud sponsor of this fiddle fest.

FRED BOBBIT: After NAFTA, all of our textile work left. We have one furniture factory left, which we've had many. We have people here that are in dire needs of jobs, food, housing. We need to start taking care of our people.

AMT: Virginia's economy actually outperforms the nation as a whole. It's home to the largest naval base in the world, the headquarters of the CIA, the Pentagon and all the civil servants and lobbyists and spinoffs that spawns. But you can't always see that in this predominantly white region of Appalachia. To go wider, you need another road trip.

[Sound: Car starting]

[Music: Jazz]

AMT: Which brings me to Richmond with its own musical culture. All the jazz greats played here. They still swell with pride over Duke Ellington. It's also a state capital steeped in colonial and Confederate history. The city eventually saw the creation of major African-American businesses, seven insurance companies, several banks. But long before that, it was a big player in the big business of selling slaves. The land beyond this tunnel was once part of a cemetery for slaves and poor free blacks. The exact size… They're still grappling with that. Richmond has a boulevard devoted to monuments of Confederate generals on horses. They're still only getting around to marking the mass graves and lynching sites of slaves. You have to drive through a weedy parking lot to get to this one.

GARY FLOWERS: You're going to find in American history when there's a low point in economics, then the fear factor goes up and you get a reaction to people of colour. “Them.” So whites then say it's their fault. So a hundred years ago, it was our fault. Now through Trump, you’re seeing him say it's the Muslims’ fault, it's the Mexicans’ fault. And that comes out of an economic low point because those who are poor in Appalachia, who are supporting Trump, are doing so because they are angry.

AMT: Gary Flowers is the fourth generation of his African-American family to live in the historically black neighbourhood of Jackson Ward. But Gary too is disconnected from the politics of Washington.

GARY FLOWERS: I was a Democrat but I've since re-registered as an independent. I am not feeling good about the direction in which American politics is going.

VELMA JOHNSON: Macaroni and cheese in the sides and catfish and pork chops in our meat. And of course, our homemade cakes.

CUSTOMER: Right here on this plate, we have a one piece cat. The sides are the candied yam, green and cabbage. And a nice little hot corn muffin. Mamma’s specialty. [laughs]

AMT: No tour of Richmond is complete without a stop at Mamma J’s. They call it soul food or comfort food. There's catfish, cornbread and collard greens on the menu. Did I mention the cake?

VELMA JOHNSON: We don’t do politics in this restaurant.

AMT: Velma Johnson is Mamma J. She worked for years as a deputy sheriff. Now she gives ex-convicts a second chance in the kitchen. She's not wading into the politics though.

VELMA JOHNSON: Because if Donald Trump came in here, we would feed him and treat him with all the dignity and respect that we would do with Hillary Clinton.

AMT: Her customers are not so reticent. I get into it with two women sitting on a bench outside the restaurant. You’ve gotta love the South—there's always somebody sitting on a bench outside. Wanda Flemming-Robinson and Cheryl Simpson-Flemming are all for Hillary.

WANDA FLEMMING-ROBINSON: I just feel as though Hillary is the right one. I just can't stay behind Donald Trump with anything that he has on his platform because quite honestly, he has nothing on his platform.

CHERYL SIMPSON-FLEMMING: When you said take me back, take me back to what? Where I’m working for you and you give me minimum, less than minimum wage? Where I have to take care of your children and you give me nothing? Where I have to do such as—what are you carrying me back to? You’re going to make America great again? What are you talking about?

WANDA FLEMMING-ROBINSON: It’s already great.

CHERYL SIMPSON-FLEMMING: I don't have a problem with America and all the—you know, little minimum phase we’re going to have anyway. We’re gonna have problems but you’re not fixing them. You’re not going to be the one that fixes them.

SOUNDCLIP

[Sound: GPS giving directions, car indicator]

GPS: In 600 feet, make a U-turn. Make a U-turn.

AMT: Okay, so not even a GPS can save me on a secondary highway. I make a wrong turn and park at a pawn shop, where I meet a man who walks in with a tool box. Shawn Berry sees the mic and starts talking.

SHAWN BERRY: Donald. All the way.

AMT: Why?

SHAWN BERRY: We need new blood, someone who's got the gump to go out there and say hey, I don't care what you think of me. We’re going to rearrange the country.

AMT: What needs rearranging in your country?

SHAWN BERRY: Pretty much everything. All the way down to—like, I work 16 hours a day and I'm here at a pawn shop so I can get gas to go to work.

AMT: Just on the other side of the road, Obaid Abdi leaves the family electronic store. He's a Hillary man.

OBAID ABDI: ‘Cause a lot of policy that Trump has right now, it’s not—‘cause I’m actually a Muslim man right now and he discriminates. He kind of has all these information without any legal facts or proof and everything. He just talks whatever he wants do. The world will just come into—I mean the presidency thing is just coming to a joke now.

AMT: And around the corner at the Hidden Valley mobile home park, Stan Reynolds is flying a big American flag and getting pretty agitated about his choices.

STAN REYNOLDS: Donald’s gonna win. They’re both batshit crazy. I mean they really are. She's a pathological liar. So is he. I think we’re screwed no matter which way we go. I vote Republican ticket. I don’t even know what the hell he is. I know what she is. There's no winning this one. I mean they’re both batshit crazy. I mean look at them. I mean you can't honestly take a look at either one of these individuals and take them seriously. It's insanity. It’s Orwellian, it really is. I mean it’s like right out of 1984.

AMT: Well, okay then. Take the road further north and you glide closer to the sumptuous suburbs and exurbs that ring Washington, DC. The median income in Northern Virginia is double that of the South and you can see it in the manicured storefronts and in the housing developments where the homes just keep getting bigger. You can even feel it on the roads. The pavement is smoother up here. I'm back on the Crooked Road now though, in the southeast corner of the state where the stories of shaky economies and bad times and getting by are enshrined in the old time music that sprang from these Blue Ridge Mountains. The winding road leads me to Hiltons, Virginia at the foot of Clinch Mountain. Home of the Carter Family Fold. Ten dollars on a Saturday night. Dollar-fifty for cake.

SOUNDCLIP

Your attention please. Good evening and welcome to the Carter Family Fold.

AMT: And the granddaughter of AP and Sarah Carter, the grandniece of Maybelle Carter—the trio who first recorded the hillbilly music that morphed into Nashville—welcomes a packed house. Tonight, the Maclean family is in from Kentucky. There is the sound of more tap shoes. Octogenarians, who looked moments ago like they can barely walk, are tapping and hoofing all around that dance floor.

[Sound: Fiddle, crowd singing “Can the Circle Be Unbroken”]

AMT: By the end of the night, they've asked us all to join in the singing. And Washington and all its politics seems very far away.

[Crowd cheering]

BAND: We thank you all and good night.

[Music: Bluegrass]

AMT: You've been listening to the documentary The Crooked Road which I produced with Pacinthe Mattar and Josh Bloch. To see pictures of that trip through Virginia, go to our website www.cbc.ca/thecurrent. Coming up next, as part of the launch of our new project, The Disruptors, I’ll be speaking with a Canadian academic who says we are all lucky to be living through what he calls a new Renaissance. I'm Anna Maria Tremonti. This is The Current on CBC Radio One, Sirius XM and online at www.cbc.ca/thecurrent.

[Music: Bluegrass]

Back To Top »

What the Renaissance can teach us about Trump and our disruptive age

Guests: Chris Kutarna

AMT: Hello, I'm Anna Maria Tremonti and you're listening to The Current.

SOUNDCLIP

[Music: Sci-Fi]

The Disruptors.

AMT: Well, that's the sound that signals the start of a new season-long project here at The Current, The Disruptors. In half an hour, we're talking about the household disruption that comes at this time of year: homework. But first, we'll go a little wider because despite all the advances we are experiencing, we have been here before. Well, we hear a lot about disruption these days and we are living in remarkable times. New technologies and ideologies are changing and challenging the status quo and are shaping the world in ways that don't always make sense. This is not the first period of mass disruption in our history, however. In fact, according to my guest today, it is the second. From the internet to smartphones, the financial crisis to the refugee crisis, Donald Trump to Brexit. Chris Kutarna believes the forces shaping our world today have been seen before, about 500 years ago. He argues we are living in a second Renaissance period and that the events of that turbulent time can help us prepare for and even predict the disruption still to come. Chris Kutarna is originally from Regina. He is a fellow at the Oxford Martin School at Oxford University in the UK. He is the co-author of Age of Discovery: Navigating the Risks and Rewards of Our New Renaissance. And we have reached him in Beijing. Hello.

CHRIS KUTARNA: Hello, Anna Maria. It's so wonderful to talk to you.

AMT: Well, it's great to talk to you. I've got so much to ask. Let's begin with that word. Why do you say we're living in a second Renaissance?

CHRIS KUTARNA: I guess because we are. [chuckles] I mean about five years ago, my co-author and I sat back in the aftermath of the financial crisis and we said look, I mean so often today, our expectations are being proven wrong. We're just continually shocked by big events that are reshaping the world and we don't have a good handle on them. So let's try to help people get a handle on them. And you know very quickly realizing that what we need is to stretch our imagination and history has always been this wonderful resource that human civilization has access to, to stretch our imagination by looking to the past and finding similar circumstances and just seeing how we coped with those circumstances then. The first Renaissance—when new maps and new media and a new human condition both helped genius to flourish in Europe and also cause tremendous social upheaval. When you get into the details, wow, it really is a compelling parallel to the time we live in and we really believe has some important lessons.

AMT: Okay. So the first Renaissance lasted about a 100 years, right? Four—was it 1450 to 1550?

CHRIS KUTARNA: That’s about where we bookmark it. And you know historians won’t always be very careful about marking clear periods in history. But around 1450 was a really important moment in Europe. It’s the time that the Ottoman Empire conquered Constantinople. It’s about the time that Leonardo da Vinci was born. It was about the time that the Gutenberg press was invented. So some very significant social, political, technological changes suddenly came into being.

AMT: Okay. Well, when did this current Renaissance begin?

CHRIS KUTARNA: Again, it's difficult to sort of put a pin in the timeline, but if we have to, I think about 1990 because the before and after of around sort of 1985 to 1995 look very different. You know the fall of the Berlin Wall in the late 1980s, the end of the Cold War, the advent of the World Wide Web in the early nineties, China's emergence from autarchy in the 1980s and really joining a global market economy. I mean you put all of that together and economically, politically, technologically—especially the technology of communication—humanity went through a dramatic transformation, sort of you know between the eighties and the early nineties. And really, all of us and so many of the events that are grabbing headlines and shocking us today are some of the aftershocks and just working through the consequences of these disruptive changes in in human technology and society.

AMT: That's really interesting, Chris, because if you look at the first Renaissance as a period of 100 years, what you are outlining has happened in the last 26 years or so. So we're still at the start of all of this change as well then.

CHRIS KUTARNA: Oh, I think absolutely. And we can really pick any domain, I think, and recognize how you know to some extent, we are right now just standing at the base of a very steep curve. I mean take technology for example. If you look at for example the dramatic impact that computers have had upon science—I mean computers now I think are so ubiquitous that we take them for granted—but we should remind ourselves I think every day that the computer is a more important invention to say biology than the microscope. The computers are more an important invention or tool to astronomy than the telescope. And the reason is that computers have a capacity to look deeply into data and to discern differences that pre-computer scientific tools were just completely unable to do. So you know the fact that today we can identify planets around distant stars by discovering minute changes in how much light that star sends to us as a planet passes between us and that star. I mean that's something that a computer can do for us but that no optical telescope ever could and it’s really—you know going back to the Renaissance, new tools and technologies for science have always been deeply disruptive and impactful for human discovery and they take decades for their full impact to be felt.

AMT: Hmm. So what you are calling a Renaissance is a period of massive disruption and that's how we're framing our big ongoing project this season, Disruptors. How would you define disruption then?

CHRIS KUTARNA: I think what's important about the idea of disruption is that it is a kind of I guess it's the scale of the change that is maybe in its speed or in its scale sort of much more than we're able to cope with, with our present modes of thinking, maybe even our present infrastructure, sort of our present habits of being and action and even governance. So one of the things we talk about in the book is how you know one of the consequences of living in a new Renaissance is that we need to make new mental maps in a lot of domains, just because our current maps have been rendered obsolete by the scale and the speed of change. Renaissance Europe completely remade their maps of the world as a result of the voyages of discovery by people like Christopher Columbus, Ferdinand Magellan, Vasco da Gama. And we need to do the very same thing. You know I've just co-authored a book about sort of the state of the world and you know to describe the current world, you have to use terms like developed and developing country but these terms actually are so woefully inadequate to capture the real relationships between a country like say China, where I am today and Canada, that we just need to revise our maps of the world. So that's one thing. One characteristic of disruption is that it really forces us, I think, to revise how we're looking at the world, how we're thinking about the world, what our expectations are. And the other really important characteristic I would say is that I think there are always positive and negative consequences of major disruption.

AMT: Well, what do you see as the strongest parallels between Renaissance Europe and our modern world?

CHRIS KUTARNA: Oh, there are so many. I mean I think it's really—what's wonderful about this perspective and I think that you know broadly that's what we most need in a time of wide disruption is perspective—to be able to step back to take a deep breath and just put everything that's happening into some kind of context that allows us to navigate it and not feel frozen. And really, I think one of the powerful things about the Renaissance perspective is that it does lend itself to so many domains: science, which we've already talked a bit about, economics. You know maybe politics is another great example that I can talk a little bit about. You know a few months ago, Brexit was a kind of political earthquake that hit the United Kingdom. I am a fellow at the Oxford Martin School at Oxford University so I spent a lot of time in the UK and while being at Ground Zero for that referendum on whether Britain should leave the EU, it was quite sobering to see how much anxiety and uncertainty and fear and anger sort of preceded and then followed that decision. And it was interesting, I mean something I was watching closely because for the few months leading up to that Breixit referendum, I've been sort of going up and down the country doing some book talks and even wrote a couple op-eds for the British media saying basically, look, I'm looking at the world through this lens that we're living in a second Renaissance. And if you look at Brexit through this lens, I really think that the leave campaign winning that referendum, that a popular wave of anger choosing to depart, to tear Britain away from Europe, I think that should be our default expectation because for me, that's the expectation that this Renaissance lens is helping me to set.

AMT: You really did call it ahead of time but what you're saying is because you were looking at it through the prism of your work on the Renaissance and the parallels to today, you saw people getting agitated and uncomfortable with the disruption that was the world global market.

CHRIS KUTARNA: I mean it goes back to I guess what I suggested at the beginning, that I think that what we most need right now is not only good facts and analysis—we've got a lot of that—but we need to stretch our imagination. And so what I imagined was look, 500 years ago next year in 2017, 500 years ago would have been the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther's Protestant Reformation. And the Protestant Reformation was a political and religious revolution that tore Europe in half, that broke this supranational governing institution called the Catholic Church into Catholic and Protestant halves and it was a tremendously disruptive event. And so I said to audiences, I mean if you were to go back 500 years and survey people on the streets of Rome or Brussels or London and ask them you know what do you think the likelihood is that you know some monk whom you've never even heard of yet is going to very soon launch this political and religious revolution, is going to use this new medium called print to bind together an alliance of people who are deeply dissatisfied with a bureaucracy and the leadership that they deem corrupt, that is far away and that they feel has just not helped them to keep up with the changing world around them. I mean, most people I'm sure, would have just looked at you like you had two heads, that that was just so far beyond the realm of possibility that they just could not imagine it. And so I said, in the run up to the Brexit referendum, you know could we be making the same mistake? That we are at some level, investing in the status quo a kind of inertia, a kind of belief that it's not really going to change all that much and maybe that's a dangerous belief to have in a time like now. Maybe we live in a time where you know we either have to renew it or lose it. You know actively recommit to whatever values we think the status quo embodies because you know what we expect, what we trust is going to be there. That's not the time that we live in. Politically, economically, in our science, this is a time of as you say, disruption.

AMT: So let's take that Brexit example you give me and go a little further because you raised the Protestant Reformation and also the idea that people are not happy with the status quo. I have two words that I think of as I listen to you talk. One is ISIS and one is Donald Trump. Very different, but one is the disruption we're seeing in American politics right now with Trump and Sanders and the ongoing stuff. The other one is the idea that this religious group—this group that wraps itself in a religion that so many find abhorrent—is actually redrawing maps and is trying to impose a different kind of thinking on a whole region of the world. Do you see parallels in there that stop you?

CHRIS KUTARNA: Absolutely. Absolutely. And in fact, talk about them in some depth, especially ISIS, in the book. And I think—I guess the first thing is—ISIS especially, for me, really reinforces one of the major expectations or just understandings of the moment we live in, that we must adopt—Is this idea of you know the positive and the negative consequences and recognizing that both are imminent in the time we live in, in the kind of disruptive changes that are underway. You know ISIS is the most successful recruiter of foreign fighters to a cause since the Spanish Civil War. And how is that possible in large part enabled by the existence of social media, of platforms like YouTube that enable anyone to reach a global audience. And again, this is stuff that has happened so quickly. We take it for granted now. But it wasn't that long ago that the only way that you could reach a mass audience like one to many, was if you had access to some state or corporate infrastructure, of public media, radio, television, newspapers. And without access to that, then in order to reach a broad audience, you had to persuade a filter, like an editorial board. Now that filter is gone and whatever the message is—whether it's deemed positive or negative, destructive or creative—it can reach a global audience and bind that audience together. And I think you know the Protestant Reformation was a classic example of how new technology in that case print enabled new network effects in society. You know famously Martin Luther, when he sort of tacked his 99 theses on the church door in Wittenberg, he later wrote to a friend that he never imagined that you know his theses on indulgences would become so widespread, would be translated into so many languages and they kind of—it took on a life of its own that he never expected would happen. But once he discovered that it had happened, then he started to direct it. He started to bind together people who felt similarly so quickly and so many that in the end, he was able to smash what 500 years ago was one of the ultimate establishment powers in Europe. And ISIS has certainly been characterized by the power of its message to reach beyond its own borders and also the speed. You know certainly in sort of 2012 especially, with which it was able to act much faster than other people were able to react. And I think it's—the other important lesson that ISIS gives to us is that you know I think in the 1990s, at the beginning of this disruptive period that I described, we had this idea that we are all connected now. And I think you know 20, 25 years on, we realized that the idea of connectedness is a bit naively optimistic. We're actually tangled. That's a better metaphor for the world that we've created with one another and tangled is very different from connected. It's not optional. You know the financial crisis, pandemics, terrorist events have taught us that, that we can't disentangle ourselves easily from events elsewhere in the world whenever we would want to. You know in a tangled world, goods and bads flow more easily. So you know trade has increased worldwide but so has the illicit trade, so has crime. And I think you know cause and effect relationships are so much harder to perceive now because our economies, our societies, our politics have become so tangled together. And I think you know bringing it back to—you were talking about Trump in the US and even Bernie Sanders—part of what they are stoking, part of what they are fanning is a deep sense of anxiety that we're just not in control and things don't seem to be going as good as they should. And we're actually not sure who to blame because cause and effect is so hard to discern today. But we feel like we should blame someone. And when a charismatic leader stands up and points a finger and says blame them, a lot of people feel relief and they feel seduced by that and they want to follow that because somebody is simplifying what is an extremely complex moment to live in.

AMT: Well, you paint this renaissance as an enlightened great time to be alive. Why?

CHRIS KUTARNA: So it is the best time in history to be alive and there's a qualifier for that we can get into later. But I think that you know take the development story. In the big picture, humanity is healthier, wealthier, more educated than at any time in history. Global average life expectancy has risen by about 20 years over the past 50. And to put that into perspective, it took humanity one thousand years to achieve the previous 20 year lift in life expectancy. Since 1950, we've repeated that. We did it in 50. Well, since 1990, per capita incomes in the world have risen by about 40 per cent in real terms. That's 40 per cent per person even though we've added 2.5 billion people to the planet since then. Now, we have giant issues around distribution now. But any civilization in human history at its height—if you offered us to trade places with us—they would probably take that trade and believe that with so much more abundant wealth for so many people, they could work out a distribution where everyone would feel better off.

AMT: I have to ask you. We look back at the Renaissance as a period of progress, arguably that's a reflection of our society's Eurocentric way of looking at the world. To what extent is that Eurocentrism being disrupted by the changes we're seeing today?

CHRIS KUTARNA: Well, I mean that is I think a fantastic point. Before that, I will just say that—I mean there is a whole dark side to the story that you know we need to get into so maybe we'll do that tomorrow. But you know there is a good news story. There is you know a couple of really big caveats to that good news that you know I think certainly the historical experience tells us we need to be attentive to. And you know our current experience is also there. So the Renaissance was beautiful in many ways but it also had its deeply ugly side. And I think one of the real challenges in this second Renaissance is going to be—well, is already adapting to the reality that this time it is a far more global experience.

AMT: Okay. Well, Chris Kutarna, hold that thought. We're going to bring you back to talk more about this. And let's get right into the detail tomorrow. But thank you for these thoughts today. This is a really thought-provoking. Thank you.

CHRIS KUTARNA: Oh, it's my absolute pleasure, Anna Maria. Thank you so much.

AMT: Well, okay. That is Chris Kutarna. He is a fellow at the Oxford Martin School at Oxford University. His book, the book that he co-authored is called Age of Discovery: Navigating the Risks and Rewards of our New Renaissance. We're going to have him back tomorrow to talk more about the disruptions taking place in the world today and how we navigate them and what he sees, so stay with us for that. And if you're wondering if you can weigh in, of course you can. You can e-mail us. We are @thecurrentcbc on Twitter. Go to the www.cbc.ca/the current. You can tell it’s a new season. I forgot the site. Go there and tell us what you’re thinking as you listen to him. And stay with us. In our next half hour, some Canadians are giving schools a failing grade for making students do your homework. We take a look at the debate over homework. Talk about disruption. I'm Anna Maria Tremonti. This is The Current.

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Is homework bad for kids?

Guests: Katie Lynes, Linda Cameron, Paul Bennett

AMT: Hello, I'm Anna Maria Tremonti and this is The Current.

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If I didn't have homework, I think I would hang out with my friends because—because of homework, we can't hang out as much. I would probably go a lot more to the park because I honestly—even if I'm 13, I love going to play with the park. Since I'm 12, like when I was in grade six, I used to less and less go to the park because I didn't always have the time. And so I want to like retake all that time. Like I would redo everything I should have done, you know?

AMT: Well, that is Montreal eighth grader Eva LeBlanc dreaming of what a homework-free world might look like. It is a dream that is probably shared by many kids today as most of the country heads back to school. And it's not just the students. There's a growing backlash against homework, as many parents and educators question its value. One Texas teacher’s no homework policy went viral last month after she told parents to skip the homework and instead—here’s the quote—“Eat dinner as a family, read together, play outside and get your child to bed early.” Some Canadian teachers also have no homework policies and a few schools have banned it outright. The backlash has some experts concerned that the anti-homework push is compromising the quality of education Canadian kids are receiving. So we're starting off the school year with homework 101, adding up the pluses and minuses of homework and we're going to begin with a look at the backlash against homework. Katie Lynes is the mother of two teenage girls—twins—and she writes a parenting blog and she's with me in our studio. Hello.

KATIE LYNES: Hello.

AMT: So what started your battle against homework? How old were your girls?

KATIE LYNES: The battle started in grade—in the early elementary years, probably grade one. And in those grades, there wasn't a lot of traditional homework. They would get the occasional worksheet or spelling lists sent home and that wasn't too onerous. But there were projects and the projects really gave us a glimpse of what was to come in homework world. And I know projects are considered fun, you know the fun homework and more engaging for kids, but in our household they just quickly became a source of a lot of unfun and frustration. And I think for two reasons. They were way more time consuming than I think the teachers who were saying them thought. There was often an arts and crafts element and you had to shop for supplies so they couldn't really be done on the weeknights. So that kind of ate into weekend time which the girls didn't like and we didn't actually either. I think the other problem is more significant and that a lot of them seemed to be developmentally inappropriate. By which I mean the kids just couldn't do it on their own. So an example, do you want—

AMT: Yeah, I was going to say give me an example.

KATIE LYNES: Well, an example is in grade one they had this mapping project where they had to draw a map of their community, put it on bristol board with their streets, their neighbourhood, their landmarks and their route to school. And my two six-year-old is kind of average six-year-olds. They just didn't have a clue how to even begin such a project. So I think that was problematic for many reasons. One was it sort of invited parents in and necessitated parental involvement which is not necessarily a good thing because not all parents can provide that kind of support so it's an equity issue. But also, you know it starts a trend of parents being really involved in their homework which we get criticized for later, as being helicopters. But I think the thing is the school kind of sends the helicopter to the home early on.

AMT: So you’re saying they set the pattern early on.

KATIE LYNES: I think they do.

AMT: And how did that keep going as they got into say grade five, grade six?

KATIE LYNES: Well, like I said that was just a glimpse. Grade four was kind of things came to a head for us because our girls started in middle immersion, so French immersion. And we were warned at the information night that it was a very intense program, it was a heavy workload, heavy homework load and we were told, parents were told if you don't think your kids is up to snuff, you might consider not enrolling in the program which was very discouraging because our kids were enthusiastic about French immersion but it wasn't quantity they wanted, they wanted something different. But I took heart because that was the year that—that was 2008—and that was the year that the Toronto District School Board—which was our board—implemented their new family-friendly homework policy.

AMT: So they actually implemented—just cut to the chase here—they implemented restrictions on the amount of homework. But what did you find?

KATIE LYNES: Okay. So yeah, it reduced homework across the board and I later learned it was a model piece of policy. It was a great policy. But when we started in French immersion, I thought French immersion will have to change under this policy, it can’t possibly be the same. Well, that was not true. The French immersion was that first year, grade four. It was a terrible year. There was so much homework, nightly homework. And that's when I began to see signs of stress from the homework in my daughters. And it was things like you know nightly worksheets, grammar sheets, vocabulary sheets. And this teacher was an excellent teacher but she was very old school and I don't think she felt she could you know change her program to fit the new policy. So it was very discouraging to see my girls saying they hated school and after you know being enthusiastic about it. And they liked French and liked learning but they just—this load—they had no time to play, no time to read. Sort of like—

AMT: What we just heard on the little clip.

KATIE LYNES: Yes.

AMT: And did that continue, the stress level?

KATIE LYNES: Well, we did meet with the teacher that year at the parent teacher interview and I considered actually pulling them out of French immersion. But she said it would ease up after Christmas and it did. But things got worse in grade five and that's when I started really digging around into homework and giving my homework on homework and I just started fighting at that point. I wrote about it and I went and saw teachers, principals, talked to my trustee. I went in waving the homework policy and you know I think—they would say yes, yes that's true, there should be this much homework but it's very hard to get people to change and it seems to be the default. So things might improve temporarily but it never stayed that way.

AMT: And how would the stress on your daughters affect the stress on your wider household?

KATIE LYNES: Oh gosh. Well, I'd like to say there were tears on their part, yelling on everybody's part and swearing on the adults’ part probably. [laughs] It was just—it's just very stressful. It's like through their entire years in school, stress kind of flowed from the school into the house and it just made us kind of resentful. That was the major source of stress for our kids. They would have had a fairly carefree childhood if they—I'm not saying you know we didn't want them doing any work—but it was just the levels. They seemed inappropriate for their age and further development. Now our situation may have been a bit different because we were in French immersion but I later learned that French immersion programs were not supposed to be exempt from this homework policy. It was supposed to be for all programs. And I think the problem with that was just it wasn't being enforced. And I would keep pointing that out.

AMT: How old are your girls now? Where are they—

KATIE LYNES: They're going into grade 12 today. So—

AMT: And what's the homework load like now?

KATIE LYNES: Well. It just got worse and worse and worse. So middle school was bad. We had meetings with the principal, vice principal and that didn't really help. And then in high school, it just—high school I think part of the problem was there's an assumption that it's okay—it's okay to pile it on in high school. I mean we kind of—there's this growing consensus that it’s not so great in elementary school and the research doesn't support it and that's true. And maybe they think that people say well, it does support it for high school but really, it only supports it to a certain point. Beyond that point you see stress effects and you see you know diminishing returns for achievement, however you measure that. So I think it's problematic to think that teenagers can be doing you know two to three to four hours a night and still lead a normal healthy life.

AMT: Why do you think homework is such a hot button issue?

KATIE LYNES: I think it's very fraught because I think it's first of all driven by a lot of fears, economic fears that we're not competitive. You know kids in Shanghai do way more, but then you should also point out kids in Finland do way less. But I think it's fraught because it kind of gets to the heart of you know conflicting ideas about the purpose of education. I mean is it training and are we training our kids to fit into this you know world, this big bad world by kind of overworking them so they can be used to that culture of overwork when they finish? Or is education—and can you keep it separate at least conceptually from training—so in preparation so you can kind of create a space for them to grow as people and human beings. I don't see that happening. I think more and more training is conflated or education is conflated with training and I don't think that's a great thing. I think that causes this homework overload.

AMT: Okay. Well, I'm going to pick up on that with our next guests. Thank you for coming in and sharing your story.

KATIE LYNES: Thank you. It's great to be here.

AMT: That is Katie Lynes. She is a Toronto mother of twin teen girls and she writes a parenting blog. Our next guest has done the homework on homework. Linda Cameron is professor emeritus at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education at the University of Toronto. She and a colleague conducted the first ever Canada-wide study on how much homework Canadian kids are getting and what parents think of that homework. She joins me in Toronto. Hello.

LINDA CAMERON: Good morning.

AMT: That study was in 2008.

LINDA CAMERON: That's a long time ago. Yes.

AMT: But it still stands as the study.

LINDA CAMERON: It does.

AMT: So let's talk about this. As you listen to what Katie’s saying, what are you thinking?

LINDA CAMERON: Well, I was thinking that that's why we did this study in the first place. Listening to parents’ concerns about the amount of homework kids were getting, the stress—many people talked about the stress—and when we did the study, that was such an important theme throughout. The stress was with kids, between parents and kids, between husbands and wives or caretakers and then the schools. So in this time today, we have now—as educators, parents and society—have become very aware that stress is the greatest morbidity for kids. It's the thing that makes kids sick and parents sick and we need to attend to issues of wellness and holistic living.

AMT: Can I just say do you have stats on that? That actually in terms of making children sick or like psychologically sick or physically sick that you can actually track that?

LINDA CAMERON: Well, Anna Maria, if you look at the websites—I don't have those stats with me, I didn't bring those files, but—

AMT: But your study shows that?

LINDA CAMERON: Our study shows the amount of stress that happens and the variety and the prevalence of stress. But if you look at, if you Google the greatest morbidity for kids, stress comes up. Pediatric people talk about it, psychologists, psychiatrists. So it's a huge phenomenon. And as we see things, I mean you know we don't want to exaggerate this but things like suicide and so on, are moving down lower and lower. And it isn't just homework. It’s the expectations that are being set for achievement. You know reading has to be accomplished. You have to be a good reader by the time you finished kindergarten. It's just getting more and more intense.

AMT: Okay, so let me ask you. What does good homework look like?

LINDA CAMERON: Ah, good homework. I worked on that policy that Katie talked about for TDSB. I recommend people look for that. But good homework is something that's interesting, not boring, that is personally relevant, real meaningful and relevant to the kids versus rote. If you consider the notion of flow, which is developed by Csikszentmihalyi, he talks about the importance of the challenge and the capacity to do it to be matched so not too easy, not too hard.

AMT: Okay. And how long? How much time should homework be?

LINDA CAMERON: The issue of time is one that I think has confused the issue of homework. There are many policies across North America that say that homework should be 10 minutes per grade which is ridiculous because something that might be easy for you, you could whip through, and someone else would do it and the time would be much longer because of understanding.

AMT: Couldn’t you say that about personally relevant though? It could be personally relevant to one child and not to the other.

LINDA CAMERON: Oh, absolutely.

AMT: So what does a teacher with 30 kids do? How does a teacher figure that out?

LINDA CAMERON: That's an interesting dilemma but hopefully teachers are spending adequate time to really get to know their children, both as people, but also their capacities, abilities, interests and experiences so that they can diversify. I mean it's a social justice issue too, right? Some kids come from homes where the families are really aware of Canadian education systems. They have different languages. They come from—we've got a number of refugee children and they struggle with the emotional issues. And you know yourself. When you're working, if you're not totally healthy, totally comfortable, if you've got a toothache, all of those things affect your ability to perform. So being aware of things that are going on in kids’ lives is important. But back to—

AMT: Okay. I’m going to just stop you there. I’m going to get you to put your headphones on so you can hear the next guest because I'm going to bring someone else into the discussion, Paul Bennett, director of Schoolhouse Consulting, which is an educational policy research firm. He's an adjunct professor of education at St. Mary's University. He's also a teacher or been a teacher in both the public and private systems as well as a school principal. Paul Bennett joins us from Halifax. Hello, Paul.

PAUL BENNETT: Nice to be with you, Anna Maria.

AMT: Okay, I want to bring you into this discussion. Let's start with the social justice issue. What's your interpretation of that?

PAUL BENNETT: Well, the whole question of homework is one that's fraught with complexity, as we've heard so far. No one's in favour of excessive homework to cause physical and mental fatigue or stress in families and I think everyone would agree with that. The question of what is the role of homework as an extension of learning in class, as a reinforcement of concepts and as building partnerships with parents is the critical issue. And whether you are on the lower end of the socioeconomic scale or the higher end, there are benefits in encouraging parents to work with their kids, understanding that people can do it to different levels and with different capacities.

AMT: So when you hear about the backlash against homework, what do you argue? For homework?

PAUL BENNETT: I argue that the research is pretty clear on this, in that homework is of benefit if it's in moderation and if it supports the activities that are going on in class. And the research is fairly conclusive. A 2006 meta-analysis by Duke University professor Harris Cooper is often cited because he cites a positive correlation between homework and student achievement. And that's particularly true above grade seven, where it's quite clear. There's new research that Linda did not refer to though, on grit, work ethic and resilience that's come out in the last two or three years which suggests that work habits instilled at the earliest ages are really critical and that homework is a piece of trying to develop that in the kids.

AMT: Well, and that brings us to what our first guest said. That depends on your view of what education is, does it not? Can you speak to that?

PAUL BENNETT: Yes, but the notion of homework is it has to be engaging, it has to be stimulating. Homework got a bad name in the 1990s and the early 2000s because it really consisted of stale program learning worksheets, mind numbing repetitive exercises and what would be busywork. For example, colouring things and doing things that are embroidery to learning. And it actually fed into Alfie Kohn’s movement—of which Lynda's a part—which was a worldwide movement to try to push back homework.

AMT: Can I just clarify: neither one of you believes in a lot of homework for the younger grades, am I right?

PAUL BENNETT: Yes. I think the consensus is quite clear—and this is a research-based consensus—is that the academic benefits of homework before grade three are not clear, but—

AMT: Would you agree?

PAUL BENETT: They are as you go along and higher and higher grades, provided it's in moderation and it doesn't induce stress and fatigue.

AMT: Okay. Linda, do you agree with that?

LINDA CAMERON: Well, yes. I do agree with that. And in fact, early education in you know homework assigned early on has in fact been—and I don't have the study in my hand, I'm afraid—but it has been detrimental and in fact some authors suggest that it inoculates kids if they have too much early on. That it inoculates them against learning and independent work later on. And you know Harris Cooper and other researchers that Paul has cited do advocate for homework later on. I would say that you know grade four on a little bit, but the quality of homework that he's suggesting, checking that they're adequately resourced, that they understand what they're doing, that the goal is clear and that it is valued by teachers, not evaluated.

AMT: It means they don't get a mark, they just take a look that they did it.

LINDA CAMERON: Right.

AMT: Okay. Paul, you have been tracking the rise of private tutoring companies in relation to this.

PAUL BENNETT: Indeed I have.

AMT: What have you found?

PAUL BENNETT: Well, it's extremely high. And what's happened is that parents are turning to private tutoring. It's called the tutoring explosion. And in some cities, it's as high as 50 per cent of the parents and kids are involved in tutoring on a day to day basis and in some ways, this is a way of filling in. If the schools shirk back or pull back from assigning homework, then the parents find other ways. Now, this of course, is not desirable. I think it would be better for the schools to continue to work on their partnerships and to work with parents. So this isn't necessary.

AMT: But are they tutoring because they need to give their children homework or are they tutoring because they don't think their kids are getting the learning they need in the classroom?

PAUL BENNETT: We need research on how much of the homework that's assigned is actually being done. And I think that's one of the issues that is a hole in the research. Having said that, the issue is why are so many parents with the means turning to tutoring?

AMT: Linda, what do you think of that?

LINDA CAMERON: Because of the pressure of homework and the expectations and the competition and just the—you know parenting became a verb in my time of being a parent. It's something that everybody's aspiring so that your kids will be winners. What concerns me in his comment about tutoring going up, why is that happening and what happens to the rest of kids’ lives? When are they having a chance to play? When are they having a chance to develop their creativity and their interest, whether it be sports or the arts? When is it that they can go and visit their grandma without taking their homework with them? What happens? The wonderful thing about the policies that are being developed now is that they're making some stipulations that homework can't be assigned today that has to be returned tomorrow, that there's some flexibility in that, which really helps with self-regulation, another really important thing that kids should be developing, which means that they are in charge of their responsibilities and so on.

AMT: What do you think of that, Paul Bennett?

PAUL BENNETT: Well, it's clear that homework teaches responsibility and at a very early age. One of the clear developments recently is the rise of the self-regulation movement. And I think giving homework in moderate amounts over time to develop in kids a sense of self-discipline is part of the research. By the way, that's part of the new research. And if you look at you know Michael Ungar, his research on resilience, there's a whole new body of research emerging which suggests that you know we need to inculcate and develop in students more of a sense of work ethic and to do it themselves and not rely on others. That’s one of the big issues.

AMT: And is homework the way? Is homework the way?

PAUL BENNETT: It is a piece of the puzzle. It’s not everything. No one wants kids overloaded with homework all the time.

AMT: Linda Cameron, why do you think this issue is so contentious?

LINDA CAMERON: The homework issue is contentious because in fact, it's been an abusive trend. Homework increasing is robbing kids from their life too early too much. I am not against homework. In fact, I would assign it. I think that it has great potential to deepen understanding and reinforce learning if it's purposeful and kids understand that purpose. They understand what it is they're supposed to do, if they have the resources both human and otherwise available to them so that it isn’t a problem for them to do their homework.

AMT: Paul, why do you think it’s so contentious?

PAUL BENNETT: Well, it does cut to the heart of what education is all about but we're missing something so far—in a digitally connected world that kids are learning. It's whether they're learning things assigned by teachers or whether they're doing it themselves. So I think those who are scaling back on homework and separating the school from life are missing out on what's really going on in a globally interconnected world. And I think what's happening is students are learning before, during and after class. We're talking about whether school, teachers, are a part of that learning now. So much has changed. And I think it's time that we took yet another look at homework. We need to build partnerships with parents so that actually today's digitally connected kids see the relevance of school.

AMT: Ontario standardized test results came out last week. The scores have slipped. Half of Ontario's grade six students failed to meet provincial standards in math. What role did homework play in that?

PAUL BENNETT: A significant one, I think, because in the one subject area—and I've written about this— homework matters more in cumulative subjects, in certain subjects it's important to have reinforcement and development. It is part of the decline in math but not the only—

AMT: We’re almost out of time. I’m going to stop you with that answer there. I want to hear Linda’s answer to that. Did homework play a part in those results?

LINDA CAMERON: I don't think so. But I don't have an explanation. I mean one of my problems is what what do tests really measure and the attention to EQAO scores—which is what they're called in Ontario—is you know we’re pretty data driven. So no, I don't think it's homework.

AMT: Okay. We have to leave it there. Thank you both. Thank you both for having this discussion. That's Linda Cameron, professor emeritus at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education at the University of Toronto. Paul Bennett, director of Schoolhouse Consulting and an adjunct professor of education at St. Mary's University in Halifax. If you want to find out how you would do against the average Ontario sixth grader, go to our www.cbc.ca/thecurrent. You can take the Ontario standardized math test. We'd also like to hear from you on homework: is it a good thing for students? Is it a good learning practice? You can find us on Facebook. Tweet us @thecurrentcbc, email us through our site, www.cbc.ca/thecurrent and then click on the contact link. That's our program for today. We're going to leave you with another perspective on the homework debate. Tomorrow night, CBC Radio's Ideas presents a documentary called “Homework Ban.” It's looking at the ideological clashes at the root of the debate. One of the guests in the documentary is the historian Steve Schlossman at Carnegie Mellon University. We're going to leave you with what he learned by scouring newspapers and women's journals published around the time of the 20th century. I'm Anna Maria Tremonti. Thanks for listening to The Current.

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This is from the year 1900. And here, Bok is saying that homework was a severe hazard to children's mental and physical health and they called it the most barbarous part of the whole system. And I'm going to read more directly. He said, “The merest novice in mental science knows that the last work given the brain to do often continues to exercise it during sleep. And yet there are thousands of mothers and fathers throughout this enlightened land of ours who wonder why their children toss themselves about in bed, why they mumble and talk in their sleep, why they are frightened by their dreams and why they are so afraid of the dark. Now, all these are simply the results of unsettled nervous conditions. Is it any wonder that children have to be called over and over again in the morning and that they at length rise unrefreshed and without appetites for their breakfasts?” Then he continues, “When are parents going to open their eyes to this fearful evil? Are they as blind as bats, that they do not see what is being wrought by this crowning folly of night study that is homework? Is all the book-learning in the world worth this inevitable weakening of the physical and mental powers?”

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