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Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Where's the opt-out button for homework?

Boy #1 is in 3rd grade this year. That's nothing extraordinary.

But the amount of homework he's been bringing home has been exceptional. If I remember correctly, 2nd grade gave us about half an hour of homework most nights, plus 20 minutes' required reading (of whatever the Boy wanted).

We've been in school for 4 weeks now and we spend about 1 1/2 hours a night plus that 20 minutes of reading. There have been nights it's taken more than 2 hours to finish the work. (I don't even bring up the reading on those nights because, frankly, he couldn't have done any of the other homework without being able to read. He can read. Well. I know it and I think the mandatory reading log stuff is bogus.)

I realize that some of his workload has to do with being in advanced classes, but still. I'd like him to be able to run off to soccer practice or Cub Scouts or, geez, even just out the door to play. . .but no. Not 'til the homework's done.

Perhaps The Husband and I are too strict. If we didn't insist on a decent bedtime -- one that lets his little, overworked brain rest well while enabling him to get up in time for the bus in the morning -- perhaps it wouldn't be such an issue.

But what's really got my goat about the whole thing is the amount of "creative" work required this year. This week, it's creating a magazine about how kids can save the earth (recycling, green practices, etc.); last week was a poster about a swamp animal (after studying habitats) and a book for math class that included a story about how he and 2 friends had gone to the Burger Hut to eat. He had to choose the friends, draw the 3 of them at the burger place, write about each person's order and then do the math. The math, I can understand. But a story? Really? He got dinged because his cover wasn't "creative enough."

We've done newspaper articles and small posters, too. There's been lots of drawing and cutting and pasting. Or taping in our case: he prefers tape to glue.

Could someone please tell me how this benefits the kids? Unless he's going to be a professional math story writer or poster designer -- neither of which I'm seeing, since his graphic design skill is about as honed as mine -- I'm missing the point here. Seems to me it's little more than exalted busy work, but keeps the kids out of the teachers' hair and the teachers out of trouble because it seems unique. Yeah, you and all his other teachers. Real unique.

Couple this with the disturbing news that the kids watch movies. A lot. The day he came home and said they'd watched a movie in music class about pushed me over the edge.

I just hope this forced march of creativity ends soon. I can't take much more.


  1. Thanks for elaborating on this---really! It's ridiculous. Mine watched a movie or two in music last year too. Apart from the fact that the music teacher was the school's Teacher of the Year last year AND a fine volunteer in the children's choir and VBS programs my kids participate in (at a nearby church, but not our own), I thought this was surely a low point for her career. At least put on a CD and let the kids sing and dance along.

  2. Yeah, the music instruction at the school always made me angry. And, homework? You know, recent studies have shown that it does NOTHING for retention or learning. ZERO. I wish the school districts would read those studies. I know several teachers who wish they could stop giving homework, but they have to, because it's expected of them by the school, the districts, and THE PARENTS. As in, the parents COMPLAIN if they feel their kids don't have enough homework. Those parents must be nuts.