Now that school has begun once more

As a parent I got so angry about ‘make-work’ repetitive homework problems and the kind of assignments that clearly were purposed to shape youngsters into obedient sameness suitable for future repetitive uncaring jobs focused solely on ‘getting it done’. Obedience should not be the focus of an education.

To have institutionalized teaching of obedience leak into the home and violate the refuge for a tired kid back from a day of frenetic input, bullying and goose-stepping is simply wrong. Teaching needs to happen in school. Practice likewise. Homework should be for the assignments that were reasonably timed within a school day that a student did not manage to complete. It should not be added on top of full, demanding days. How I hated my child’s homework. It spoiled time we would have better shared reading books– and by the way the fact that I was supposed to count the pages my kid read and report it to the school was insulting. It made the creative act of reading a ‘check in a box’ activity. I ended up reporting the books the kid read, not the pages.

Then let us speak of both the school and teachers’ punitive attitudes towards the noncompliant parent, and then the punishment through the school and teachers’ attitudes and restrictions for the kid who didn’t jump through all the hoops while in the sanctuary of the home. Or worse yet, for the kid whose parents didn’t jump through the hoops. The kids were held hostage for our parental ‘good’ behavior.

My solution? The homework group. A mixed batch of kids of different ranges of abilities working together to get the pages and pages of repetitive exercises done, with homemade brownies or cake, and discussions about science and history that enlivened as much as possible of this tedious obedience training. Lots of reading aloud to illustrate human history and what the international news brought to our door. Maps, and stories from epidemiology and novels, sometimes animal tales laced with natural history.  It wasn’t perfect but it made the process of cookie-cuttering our children something I at least had a hand in.

Guess I should draft a blog on this….Short, incomplete, here it is, but better than nothing.





Filed under blog, education, homework, school,

2 responses to “Now that school has begun once more

  1. Homework-time was not too bad of an experience in our home. The kids and I sat together at the table having a snack, talked about their day, then they did their homework. I was there to answer questions, if needed.

  2. I wonder if what we experienced in our elementary school and on, was a yuppie twist. We parents were given a template — that in each grade our children were expected to do “x’ number of hours of homework. It went up and up with age– and left little time for reflection and invention, undirected reading and family time. I guess I inserted myself by making a homework group, and cookies. By the time October homework was done, even in elementary school, it was full dark. No time for outside adventuring, running, digging and undirected play.
    One thing is that I am a believer in boredom. I always hope that a bored child will learn to entertain himself– that boredom is a root of creativity…
    Oh, and I should add that while we like some movies and entertainment, we never had cable, we didn’t watch T.V. in our home.

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