I Am Heading to Hell in a Handbasket Full of Homework
Once I graduated from college I thought my homework days were over. Little did I know that once I had children I would have homework once again. These days just the word homework causes my shoulders to slump and an exasperated sigh. The second question out of my mouth every single day is “What kind of homework do you have?”
By the end of the school week everyone is exhausted from staying up late, including me.
Is there value in having homework assigned? I’m not sure. I go back and forth on this depending on the week.
One of my friends has a child in high school taking a higher level math class. That child has a lot of homework, assigned each night with multiple problems to solve. The teacher does a homework check at the beginning of class. If you have it, you get a 100. If you don’t you get a 0. Homework counts for 10% of your grade. The teacher never goes over the homework nor does she give the class the answers so the students can self-correct. The whole exercise of homework seems like a big waste of time.
After my friend’s child failed the first two tests, my friend set up a meeting with the teacher that basically went like this:
“Can you go over the problems in class so the students know if they are doing them correctly?”
“No..I can’t that would take away from the limited time I have to teach new material.”
“But what if they don’t know that they don’t know how to solve the problems?”
“They should go to after-school tutoring.”
“That’s fine too, but my concern is that there is no way for them to check the their homework answers. Do you think you could post them on your website?”
The teacher said No, she couldn’t, or wouldn’t change anything about the way that homework was dealt with in her classroom.
I was recently informed by one of my children’s teachers that it is my responsibility to check my child’s homework before it is handed in to make sure all the questions are answered correctly. But let me let you in on a little secret… sometimes I have no idea what the answers are, even for the elementary-schoolers. I don’t usually check their homework unless they are confused.
And then there are the homework assignments that send you right over the edge of your sanity. For instance, the homework assignment that required driving around town, taking photos of the student in front of various public and private industries. Or to clarify, having your parents drive you all over hell’s half-acre taking your photo because as a 14-year-old you can’t yet drive a car. One of my friend’s breaking points came when she was almost arrested doing this assignment. Apparently people get weird when you take photos in front of their business.
My breaking point came when my child was required to design a menu for a restaurant that would have existed in the early settlement in Jamestown or it might have been that rap song about the elements of the periodic chart. Hard to say.
Other homework assignments don’t bother me in the least. Ones which seem to have some value other than just being busy work. Spelling tests? Bring them on! Memorizing multiplication facts? Hell-to-the-yes! Forget all these crazy “strategies” for solving math. You know what the best strategy is for math facts? Memorization. Long-term projects that teach kids how to allocate their time and do research? Yes! But the daily grind of turning out homework, especially for the younger students, seems counterproductive. And researchers agree. There has been plenty of research that points out how homework isn’t really helping anyone. And for all the complaining we do as parents about the amount of homework, it still seems to be accepted as a necessary evil.
The president of France announced sweeping educational reforms this week. One item that stands out is his plan to abolish homework in schools. Could you imagine if President Obama announced the same thing in the United States?
What do you think about the homework your kids get from school? Do they get too much? Not enough?