Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Do I Still Have to do Homework?

I'm 43, for crying out loud!  I have completed a master's degree!  I'm not taking any classes of my own! Why the heck am I stuck here at the table every afternoon doing homework?!? Walking the homework beat as one of my friends calls it.  Why do I have to be the heavy, the nagging mom every day my children walk through the door from 7 hours of school by making him or her sit down and do another round of school work when I personally think they should have a break? When I think they should be out running around hitting a ball or riding their bikes or playing a game or helping me make dinner (which they like) or doing karate or gymnastics or riding a horse or watching tv and relaxing.  (I know that is pure sacrilege.  What could I possibly be thinking?  I should probably be burned at the stake!) 

No we're figuring out science or writing or vocabulary or a project (that I still haven't seen the assignment sheet for and it's due tomorrow.  Surprise mom!  And we need a poster board and pictures of Jupiter--good thing I have a color printer/copy machine at my home) or math of all things!  I thought I was finished with word problems when I had that last Calculus class in college.  Oh, I was so wrong!  I was so naive!  Can I work them out and get the right answer.  Yes, I can! (Usually, with a little annoyance) but can I teach my child how to get the right answer and show his work?  Not on your life, because I do it the wrong way--the way I was taught when I was little.  I want to scream at the teacher at the top of my lungs, "If you're going to be picky about the way it's done have the kids do it in your classroom while you are there to supervise and answer any questions they may have!"  

But I take a deep breath and try not to yell at my child that I love because he doesn't understand what I don't understand.  There goes my mood.  Deep breath!  Calm!  Think of nice things!  His dad can help him!  He's fantastic at math and so analytical!  Except there's that pesky little thing about it being done the "right" way.  I would have thought that someone who's been working in Finance for over 25 years would know the "right" way to do math, but I guess I'm just fooling myself.

Okay, so I've got the proverbial bee in my bonnet about homework and have to vent a little more or explode.  I'm sure you'd have never guessed.  I've facebooked about it quite a bit this week, but it's apparently not enough so I thought, "Hey, I have my own personal platform.  I'll blog about it."  Not that I have a huge audience or anything, but I just have to put it out there.  Hey, Karen!  Hey, E!  Hey, Daveman and Nathan!  This is for you! 

This week I've read several articles that have highlighted the pointlessness of homework and the possible detrimental effects that it can have on our students out there.  The Time article found here and the articles of Orson Scott Card found here and here and here are eye opening. It just kills me that in the study that proved that homework does not help elementary aged children at all there is a recommendation for doing 10 minutes of homework per day per year in school. So for 5th grade students it says they should do 50 minutes of completely useless homework every night.  That's just brilliant!  

The article about education in Finland was very intriguing.  Find it here.  Thanks for all the links Nathan.  Only 1/2 hour of homework even for high schoolers.  Okay, I can understand that and I can get behind it.

What college track high schooler do you know who does not have a barrage of homework every night? weekend? over holidays?  Even reading lists for the summer?  How about your middle schoolers?  Now it's even trickling down to elementary school.  

Homework in America has gotten completely out of control.   In my opinion it is a major reason for the decline of  America's ranking scholastically across the world.  People can focus for only so long.  They eventually burn out. 

There's no more reading for fun. It's all assigned.  No wonder people are reading less.  Kids start out thinking reading isn't fun.  It does not have to be drudgery.  Reading can be so exciting and fulfilling and informative. (gasp!)  Sorry this rant is about homework.  Back to my topic...

With obesity such a problem in the US, I wonder how much of a role homework plays in that equation.  Our children sit around all day at school (except for PE that's usually not everyday and recess that is getting shorter and shorter) and then are forced to sit around at home doing homework.  Sometimes that homework can last from the time they get home until the time they go to bed.  One friend was telling me that her high schooler is often doing homework until midnight or later.  When school starts at 8 AM, that's a 16 hour day--an 80 hour work week for a teenager.  That is INSANE.  That's 2 full time jobs.  And yet some people think nothing of our children working like that on homework.   

It's a wonder more don't burn out sooner.

I'd love to hear your feedback and feelings out there.  So my rant is over for the day and the platform is now yours.


Karen said...

Lois, we must be on the same wave length today because I just finished posting on my group page before reading this blog entry. Your writing spoke everything I am feeling, only more eloquently! I am so angry today at the amount of time Graham has spent and how much more he still has to do. It is almost 7:00 and he is, and deserves, to go to Scouts! I wonder what time he'll get to bed tonight :(

Hannah Beth said...

I completely agree. I always found homework pointless in just about every way in my K-12 classes and now I'm really struggling in college b/c in the past, homework had been assigned, and it never really made much of a difference in my understanding of the subject before, so now it's really hard to comprehend that homework really does need to get done NOW. They say it's practice for college, but... that kinda backfired with me

lotusloq said...

Karen, I'm so sorry for Graham. That's outrageous. But it does just go to illustrate my point.

Hannah, thanks for your experience, too. I think it is something that teachers in the lower grades don't consider.

Thanks for the comments!

Rebecca Ramsey said...

Amen sister!
I laugh to think how I was sure when I finished grad school that I was done with homework. Ha!
It's exhausting for all concerned. My middle child does homework every waking moment that he isn't at cross country practice after school. It's no way for a high school student to live!

Uh oh. I feel myself revving up about this, so I'm going to step away from the soapbox!

lotusloq said...

Ah, sister, don't step away! Jump up here with me! We should start a crusade!

spinregina said...

I've been thinking about this as my daughter will start school next fall; I'm wondering what homework policies are in Canada. Thanks for inspiring me to check - I'm going to look into her school to see how they handle this. Good comments & ideas; thanks!

lotusloq said...

Thanks! I'd love to know what the rules are in Canada.

Taylor said...

Hi Sis. Moss. This is Taylor Isenhour I saw the comment you left on cortney´s blog.

I just thought I´d let you know about my homework load here in Spain.

Average night for 1 Bachillerato (same as 11th grade) is 15 mins top.

I´ll have a little french, a little latin, and maybe a few math problems.

I get to enjoy the day so much more here compared to my 4 hours a night back in the US.

lotusloq said...

Thanks for sharing Taylor! That's exactly what I'm talking about!