October 2011

Posted October 3, 2011

by Stephen Gosewich, Dad blogger

I used to think that homework was a rite of passage that every child had to go through.

When I was a kid it was assigned and it had to get completed or there would be some pretty serious hell to pay!

But never did I look at homework as being something that would benefit my ability to learn or better comprehend something. To me, homework was a necessary evil. I could not do anything fun until homework was completed. I couldn't go outside after school and play or after dinner on a beautiful spring evening to hang out with my buddies on the block.

Projects were even worse because not only did I have to create a written masterpiece but I also had to create a visual presentation that would have to knock my teacher's socks off (something more than just a bunch of magazine cut-outs glued to a piece of bristol board).homework

Fast-forward a million years later and here I am...a parent of two young children and now I have to act like the enforcer and make sure that my own kids complete their homework before anything else. Not only do they have to complete it on time...but they must understand what they are doing.

Now that we are well into the new school year and things have returned to normal, I have had the lovely opportunity and pleasure to sit down with my younger daughter as she struggles through her homework - complete with tears and tons of frustration.

As she starts off Grade 5 with a thud, I am seeing the quantity of homework increasing with each passing day.
School Board rules prohibit the amount of work to be sent home. Yet, I seem to be spending several hours with my daughter as she struggles with each question and I equally struggle helping her find each answer.

The apple doesn't fall far from the tree and I can say with total confidence that my two daughter's lack of math-smarts come directly from me (although I am told by my wife that she struggled with math in school too...makes me feel so much better).

I really don't get the point of homework....never have. I don't think that homework measures a child's ability
to comprehend something because more times than not, a child just really wants to get through the homework because they know on the other side of that homework lies playing with friends, going on the computer and watching TV.  Their motivation isn't to learn...its to complete.

What would really happen to our children if teachers did not assign any homework? What if all the material covered in class was reviewed in class and that the only work that was brought home was for purposes of preparing for a quiz or a test (or these days, a "quest")? What if the only work that kids had to complete at home were for special projects, essays or other presentations? Would our kid's marks or overall comprehension falter in any way?

While I don't own a crystal ball, I can tell you that our children would be less stressed and would have more time
to be kids and pursue other kinds of extra-curricular activities that are often sacrificed because of school work. Our teacher told us that he likes to give daily homework assignments that should take about 45-60 minutes to complete. On top of that, he assigns a larger chunk of homework on Fridays to be returned the following week. He claims that this should add another 3-4 hours of homework weekly. By my calculations (remember, I am a fantastic mathematician) that would mean that in order for my daughter to complete all of her homework on a weekly basis, she should be spending 60-90 minutes per day, EVERY day...including weekends. I wonder if he works on Friday or Saturday nights or does he like to kick-back after a long work week with a "cold one" or a nice glass of red wine on a Friday night? Not that I am encouraging alcoholic
consumption by a 10 year old...but I think children also need some time to decompress after a long week.

Educators are also forgetting about the family. In most modern families, both parents (assuming there are two), are
working. So, from the moment the bell rings at the end of the school day to the moment our children lay their heads down to go to sleep, the intensity around most households is feverish. Parents are in a rush to get home, most times coming into the house feeling a bit grumpy because of the days events or a nasty rush-hour drive home. Then, the mad-dash to meal prep..juggling dinner preparation and making lunches for the next day with assistance to the kids on subjects or topics that they have not considered in 30 years (to say I am rusty on this stuff is an understatement). If we expect our kids to focus on their school work, how can they really expect us to give them our undivided attention when we are running around the house like a chicken with its head cut off?

I don't really know if I have the "balls" to actually confront my daughter's teacher, principal and
Superintendent to tell them that we, as a family are boycotting homework. But it would be kind of "anti-establishment"...don't you think?

But, who needs the detention?