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[Susan notes: Kudos to Krashen. We must speak up for student time-OFF-Task every chance we get, particularly if it involves letting them get up and move around.]

Submitted to Washington Post but not published

To the editor

Columnist Jay Mathews and some school officials are disturbed because Fairfax County School District high students get 90 minutes a week recess ("High-schoolers' 'recess': Benefit or brain drain?" Feb. 6). Some students, they claim, are simply taking it easy during this time, not studying.

That's only 18 minutes a day, probably much less than these critics take for coffee and unscheduled breaks whenever they feel like it, an option high school students don't have.

These short breaks, time when we can take it easy, are important. Research on creativity tells us that true learning requires some downtime. When Einstein had a problem in his work, he would take some time off for music. After a little relaxation, the solution would often present itself.

We should probably discuss whether 18 minutes a day is enough, not whether it should be eliminated.

Source: Krashen, S. 2001. Incubation: A neglected aspect of the composing process? ESL Journal, 4(2): 10-11. Available at

Stephen Krashen

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