@gcigale Tweets

Friday, December 08, 2006

Funny and Great Press

We see articles about our Live Homework Help programs in local papers and magazines across the country every couple days. But this one that came across my desk today may be the funniest press mention ever for Tutor.com. Coverage from a city council meeting in a local California paper (http://www.dailybulletin.com/ci_4801313), excerpted below:

AN ONLINE tutoring service by Tutor.com is now offered to Rancho Cucamonga Library cardholders, the council was told, leading to this exchange by council members:

Sam Spagnolo: "Why didn't they have this when I was in school?"
Diane Williams: "They didn't have computers when you were in school."
Dennis Michael: "If you'd had a computer when you were in school, you wouldn't have known how to log on anyway."
Spagnolo: "I don't know how to log on now."
Williams: "You could go on Tutor.com and ask."

Had most of our company laughing out loud today.

Also, on the more serious side of California, this week:

1) Huge award, won by the County of Los Angeles Public Library for their (our) Live Homework Help program: http://www.colapublib.org/new/releases/nReleases.php4?rNum=242

2) Nice piece about Bart Epstein, our in-house lawyer (General Counsel) and VP Corporate Development: http://www.lawcrossing.com/article/general-counsel-bart-epstein.php

For more serious articles and TV coverage, see our press page: http://www.tutor.com/press.asp.

George Cigale

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Too Much Homework?

Over the past few months, since homework season went into high gear in September, there's been a glut of articles about kids in the US having to do too much homework. Not just newspapers full of these stories, but also the evening news and magazines. Everywhere you turn:

-- http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/local/287317_homework03.html
-- http://www.lsj.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20061005/NEWS05/610050375/1001/news
-- http://www.humanevents.com/article.php?id=17283
-- http://www.azcentral.com/arizonarepublic/news/articles/1009homework1009.html
-- http://dukenews.duke.edu/2006/03/homework.html
-- http://abclocal.go.com/wabc/story?section=our_schools&id=4679918
-- http://www.tallahassee.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20061021/OPINION05/610210313/1006/OPINION
-- http://www.ksdk.com/news/news_article.aspx?storyid=106810
-- http://www.indystar.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20061106/LIVING/611060304

Each year at this time, parents are barraged with such articles about the "controversy" of too much homework. But this year, the volume has been turned up a couple notches because of two recently released books: "The Case Against Homework"(Crown) by Sara Bennett and Nancy Kalish, and "The Homework Myth" (Da Capo) by Alfie Kohn.

What's not an exaggeration is that homework makes many students and parents frustrated. Some parents even lose their minds and do incredibly stupid things. See these two pieces for a shock:

Cruel punishment -- http://rawstory.com/news/2006/Hong_Kong_mother_held_for_knifing_f_10082006.html
Odd reward -- http://www.ctv.ca/servlet/ArticleNews/story/CTVNews/20061123/pot_reward_061123/20061123?hub=TopStories

The best, and fairly even-handed, article on the subject that I've seen recently was published last week in the New York Sun, on November 28, 2006, "The Case Against Homework Comes Alive in Two Books", written by SARA BERMAN. Read here: http://www.nysun.com/article/44219.

Couldn't help but posting my thoughts on the subject on the Sun's site:

"Submitted by George Cigale, Nov 29, 2006 09:32

For the past eight years, I have been building a company focused on helping kids with homework -- Tutor.com (www.tutor.com). A couple months ago, I ordered both books to get a better understanding of this phenomenon of perception of too much homework.

My conclusions so far:

-- Homework is necessary to reinforce what was learned in school and to prepare for the next step in learning.

-- Homework is good if:

-- it is truly tied to the instruction that was recently delivered,

-- it really helps the child understand the concepts better, and most importantly,

-- the child has someone to turn to when he or she is stuck.

So often, the child has no one to turn to when he or she is stuck. Parents are not home and when they are, so many parents are not able to help, especially with math and science problems. Teachers are not available in the evenings, and schools do not spend their limited resources to provide homework support consistently. Most families cannot afford private tutoring, and if they can, traditional tutoring has the child waiting a week and saving up all their questions for the next appointment, allowing the teachable moment to go away.

All of these factors add up to loss of confidence, kids falling behind, and parents getting frustrated that their child is struggling, that the can't help, and that homework becomes a point of stress for the entire family.

Tutor.com is not the solution for all of these problems, but we help thousands of kids each night through our Live Homework Help service available through over 1,500 libraries in 42 states (for free to kids), and through Tutor.com Direct, available on a pay as you go basis to families everywhere.

Another book needs to get written -- refuting the overly simplified notion that homework hurts students and they get too much of it. Especially in a world where our kids are falling way behind in math and science compared to the rest of the world. Good homework is good for kids, and providing them the support they need when they get stuck is critical.

George Cigale, Founder and CEO of Tutor.com"

Thinking about writing that book...

George Cigale