Friday, September 01, 2006

Really Just a Rant

Yes, that's your fair warning. I promise it will be short, but this is really just a rant. The Queen usually gives you the heads up when she needs to whine, so I figured I would, too. Here's my beef. Teachers, we love you so, and I know that you are overworked and underpaid, and yada, yada, yada. AND, I truly appreciate all that you do. But could you pile on any more hours of homework every night? Is ANYONE with me? Whatever happened to time for kids to play outside after school? When your 5th grader comes home from school, takes 20 minutes to have a quick snack and tell you about her day, gets right down to homework, works diligently until dinner - and let's face it, folks, we don't eat until 645 or 7:00 many nights at our house - and THEN, still has to get right back to her homework after we finish dinner...DON'T YOU THINK THAT'S A LITTLE MUCH???? For some reason, every year, the Pollyanna in me thinks that it's going to get better. I've talked to parents from public, parochial and private schools, and we're all saying the same thing. GIVE THE KIDS A BREAK! I'm all for a good education. Don't get me wrong. And you know, my husband and I happen to be blessed with children who have no learning disabilities and who pick things up very easily. S0, if they are having trouble, how about those who are not so fortunate? They need a little time to recharge their batteries - not to mention do chores for their WT moms, for Pete's sake. I mean, I wind up feeling guilty asking my kids to set the table for dinner and take the trash out, let alone changing the oil in the car or cleaning out the refrigerator (hey, someone has to do those things, right?!). They are so overwhelmed, and it's only the second week of school. There's a new book out called The Case Against Homework, in which the authors, Sara Bennett and Nancy Kalish, argue that more homework does not necessarily translate to better educated children. Possibly even the opposite. So, why stress out our children (and their parents, who have to hover over them like beastly taskmasters...)? Here's a brief excerpt:
"For example, most parents (as well as many teachers) would be surprised to hear that there's absolutely no proof that homework helps elementary school pupils learn more or have greater academic success. In fact, as this book will explain, when children are asked to do too much nightly work, just the opposite has been found. And study after study shows that homework is not much more beneficial in middle school either. Even in high school, where there can be benefits, they start to decline as soon as kids are overloaded."
WTM's, are you WITH ME? We have to present a united front on this, and fight back! If the teachers and administration don't hear it from us, do they even know it's a problem? According to the women who wrote the book quoted above, the answer to that is NO! Let's make it a point to be present in our children's lives in this way. Let's not just complain about it in the parking lot and at soccer games. Let's do something to make a difference. OK, that's my rant. I'm climbing down from the soapbox now. I promise my next post I'll be back to the same ol' flippant, snarky little snot you've come to know and love! Cheers for a great holiday weekend!


Anonymous hijole said...

I'm with you. My daughter comes home from first grade with three sheets of homework every night. Not too much, one would think -- but what gets me is that it's the backside of a worksheet they did in school that day, and it's nearly identical to what they've already done. It's a half hour waste of precious play time.

9/01/2006 9:30 AM  
Blogger Mysit said...

When my kids were going to school in a larger town, they were swamped with homework every weekday - as early as 3rd grade. Now they're going to a smaller rural school, and rarely have homework, and the smaller school gets just as high ratings as the larger ones in town!

Pfft on all this homework! Give 'em a break!

9/01/2006 11:36 AM  
Blogger ballerinamommy said...

Let me just start out by saying I am a soon-to-be certified elementary teacher. I plan on giving my future students as little homework as possible, because I feel like they should learn and accomplish as much as possible during the day. And I believe their brains need rest in the evening. Of course, the best laid plans don't always come to fruition. And this is only the opinion of one future teacher. But I don't WANT to give my students tons of homework!

9/01/2006 11:41 AM  
Anonymous Izzy said...

So....what can we do about it? Seriously...what can WE do about it? Do we need to contact our school board, our county commissioners, our School Director (Becky Sharber in WC)? I totally agree with what you are saying and I am totally up for a fight against too much homework.

We all could start with emails to our school board members and our county commissioners. School Board email addresses can be found at WCS.EDU. County Commissioner email addresses can be found at Contact them, NOW, and let your voice be heard.

You rock, WTM's.

9/01/2006 11:41 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You know what's funny, I have several friends who are teachers and they hate giving out homework. If they give out homework, they have to grade homework. If they try to get away with not grading it, kids and parents both protest. They have better things to do than work all day at school, then go home and work all night grading homework. Where do these teachers who give out so much homework find time to grade it? And if there is no grade except a check mark in a book, heck, just write anything on the homework, it obviously isn't being graded!

9/01/2006 12:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I totally agree on this!!! When we lived on the west coast, my oldest had at least an hour of homework every night (5th grade) My girls had homework every night, mandatory reading for 20 minutes every night, and a homework packet due every Friday. They were in kindergarten-1/2 day!!! When we moved back to the midwest, and I asked the new teachers for the homework agenda, whats due on what day, etc. they looked at me like I was crazy. Needless to say, I saw grades and attitudes improve immensely as neither the kids nor I were stressed about homework. Parents Unite!

9/01/2006 12:29 PM  
Blogger SistaSmiff said...

I think they do enough during the day. Even with my middle and high schooler, I dont think they oughta pile it on. My high schooler has the least amount of homework than the 7th and 3rd grader.

9/01/2006 12:43 PM  
Blogger sweetney said...

so right there with you. our PRESCHOOL gives homework. and i just ignore it because, i mean, WTF?

and i know it only gets worse. urrgh.

9/01/2006 2:10 PM  
Blogger Stefanie said...

God, I totally agree. Mine's not in school yet but I'm scared that it will be the same for her. What can we do? Let's burn all the schools down.

9/01/2006 2:42 PM  
Blogger dariasmama said...

That's just insane. I remember an occasional spelling list or book to read to mom, but hours at night? Hmmm, sounds like the teacher isn't making good use of her classroom time.

As for what to do: I would schedule a meeting with the teacher and ask why the homework overload. You may find out it's a district policy (especially with NCLB) and you will need to work your way up from there.

Good luck!

9/01/2006 4:53 PM  
Blogger AprilMay said...

I've been an elementary teacher for 10 years. Our private school has a published homework policy (check your school's handbook) which is 10 min per grade. So, second grade is 20 min/night. Some teachers, especially new ones, may miscalculate how long it takes the kids.
I, personally, hate giving homework, but for every parent in my class that DOESN'T want homework, I have a parent who DOES want homework! I can never please them all!

9/01/2006 6:41 PM  
Blogger molly said...

My daughter was classified "Other Learning Disabled." No joke, that's really a learning disability category when they can't figure out what's wrong. She had minimal problems, came home with the normal homework, but it would take hours and major tantrums (mine) to get it done. I finally took it back to the school and told her teacher and counselor that I was no longer going to be doing her homework at home with her. It was destroying our relationship, I wasn't a qualified teacher, yadda, yadda... and guess what - they actually listened to me. You're right, don't complain about it in the parking lot and at soccer games and to other parents, take it to the schools and to the teachers, to the ones who can actually change it. They might not see it from your perspective, but once they do, they might be able to change it. And if they don't cooperate, be persistent. It is within your power to effect change.

9/01/2006 6:44 PM  
Blogger Jazz said...

OMG I'm so glad I finally came to read this blog! I've been saying this forever! I mean I was saying it when I was in school, which was only 6 years ago. Now I have a son going into Kindergarden and I am all freaking wondering what he's going to come home with. I think I'd do the same thing, tell them I'm not his teacher, you are. Why should we have to waste the time we have with our children after school doing more school work? They're there long enough. Good Lord! Give the kids a break. Great topic, and when the time comes, don't worry. I won't be one of the moms in the parking lot talking, or I will be but I'll also be in the school doing something about it!

9/01/2006 8:25 PM  
Anonymous baseballmom said...

We're pretty lucky-our son has had the same teacher for 2 years, and will have him again this year for 5th grade-the teacher looped for 3 years with the class-and he tells everyone, at Back to School night that if the kids work for over 30 min. and still are not finished with homework, we can write a note and he will excuse the unfinished part. They also do 30 min. of reading. Even that borders on too much sometimes! Also, if they have a special event, such as a birthday, family commitment, etc. they can also be excused from homework with a note. The two things I HATE about starting school again are homework, and packing lunches!

9/02/2006 12:21 AM  
Anonymous Stacy said...

Amen! My daughter has A.D.D. and has spent her entire school career thus far (she's in ninth grade) trying to avoid doing homework. She's gotten pretty creative about it and when she does get caught and have to do the work it's always a battle royale that leads to tears for one or both of us. In many meetings with teachers and counselors over the years the solution was to heap extra work on us at much as 2-3 hours per night! The teachers say they are just too busy to give her attention at school. What a crock. Class size in our schools is usually no more than 20. We have support staff galore. Teach the kid at school so she can have a life at home that actually involves some time being a kid.

9/02/2006 3:45 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Have you and the other WTMs joined the PTA and caused riots at the meetings? That's what I'm thinking of doing because my son is starting KG and they're going to have homework on top of 6 HOURS of school! And he's 5! THis is stupid. When I was in elementary school and I had too much my parents would write the teacher a note saying that I didn't have to do the homework, they had excused me from it. In high school I had homework, care of my brothers after school, household chores, a job and then I didn't start my homework until 9 at night so I would be up until 1 or 2 in the morning. I was a farm kid. It was ridiculous. THere is something to be said for discipline and learning to self-study and motivate but there is also plain stupidity on the part of the american public school system.

9/02/2006 8:36 AM  
Anonymous Laura said...

I totally agree with you. My oldest son (7 yrs old) who is in 2nd grade, one night last week he came home with FIVE pages of homework. I remember saying out loud, "Oh, give me a BREAK." It was terrible. It took us until dinnertime to get through all of it. Oh, I forgot the book report he had to do as well.

I'm all for 1 page of homework everyday, but 5?? That seems excessive.

9/02/2006 9:13 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You Americans don't know your born! That amount of homework is miniscule in comparison to the homework children here in England get. I regularly did four to five hours of homework a night and twelve to eighteen hours on the weekend, from the age of eleven to eighteen. It's the reason students here are not only better educated and more eloquent than their American counterparts, but have more time to develop and explore themselves and their interests in a far more meaningful way at university. Even professors at the American schools admit this. I speak from experience - I grew up in an area of England dominiated by American families, and have been educated both in Oxford university but also at Princeton, by American and English tutors. The homework is worth it in the end!

9/02/2006 10:09 AM  
Blogger Ginger said...

I would just really like to see my 1st grade daughter have a CHILDHOOD for awhile before she is bogged down with the rat race that awaits her. I'm all for excellent education and preparing our kids for college, but let's have some balance here!

9/02/2006 10:41 AM  
Blogger Smithee said...

I'm still a rookie teacher - last year in middle school, now in high school, but I can assure you, I hate giving homework. I know my kids have jobs, sports, and caring for younger siblings to worry about after school. Not to mention 5 other classes to study for. I don't give a lot of homework. Sometimes they'll have to finish what they didn't complete in class, work on a paper, or study for a test. (But most of them don't even do that. I've found that if they don't bother doing the work in class, they certainly aren't going to do it at home.)

Dariasmama hit the nail on the head when she mentioned NCLB. You have no idea the kind of pressure teachers are under with the ridiculuous standards we're expected to uphold, not to mention the administrators breathing down our necks, because they have parents and school boards breathing down theirs.

I could go on and on, but I get fed up just thinking about the way things work these days in education. Suffice it to say, not all teachers feel like piling on the homework.

9/02/2006 11:36 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

((((That amount of homework is miniscule in comparison to the homework children here in England get. I regularly did four to five hours of homework a night and twelve to eighteen hours on the weekend, from the age of eleven to eighteen.)))))

That's funny, cause my husband grew up in england (he's 31 now) and he doesn't remember having that much homework. Plus, don't kids get out of school at 16??? Unless they go on to college...

9/02/2006 12:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, do you want your children to go to college or not? It just depends on where you think they would be happiest. Maybe for some kids homework doesn't work, but others may genuinely thank their schools, parents and teachers for helping them on to such valued achievements. Besides, the exam system in England has undergone huge changes since your husband was at school.

9/02/2006 12:30 PM  
Blogger Blogarita said...

I am so happy to see that I'm not the only one who thinks this way. My daughter is already out of school, and my granddaughter is not yet in school, but I'm dreading the day she starts if there will be that much homework involved. It's unnecessary, and as TP mentioned, not of any real benefit, especially to the younger children.

For Pete's sake, let's let our kids have a chance to enjoy being kids for a change, instead of piling on the excessive homework.

9/02/2006 1:32 PM  
Blogger tacky princess said...

Ouch! Wow, we really struck a chord with this one. I come home from a weekend away, and you WTM's are havin' it out! You rock, ladies. Though I don't necessarily agree with everything said, I'm thrilled to get such a response. Keep it up!


9/05/2006 9:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Homework is given because there isn't enough time to do the work in school. There is just so much that can be done within scheduled class-time. Homework to me, if given at all, should be "practice." It should not, and often is, supplemental teaching and learning. I used to get into trouble for not giving enough homework when I taught middle school. Frankly, the majority of kids didn't do the assignments I gave, and did just fine in the class as far as learning the material. It was frustrating because the school had a policy about how much homework students were to have, too. But I didn't understand the point especially when most kids didn't do it, and most parents didn't make it a priority. Parents would even provide excuses for their kids not doing an assignment: we had to go shopping, he had a soccer game, it was the specific night of the week she had visitation with her father, he was tired, she had a heahache, her sister had a piano recital, she had karate class, he had to babysit his sister... The only reason a child's grade was affected by not doing homework was because homework carried a certain weight in the grading system, and that's because homework was a school requirement.

I can't see the point in giving homework based on ten minutes of teaching a lesson and expecting them to learn anything. That's not teaching. If a lesson is given properly so that a student learns and understands the material, the homework is just practice. But what's the point of a student struggle to learn the material through a homework assignment, and then doing it wrong. That's certainly counter productive to the learning process if you as me. If it's for practice, the child should be able to do it mostly struggle and error free, and if he can't, then that's a signal to the teacher to reteach, at least for this child, the material. But no, that's not what happens. This child just gets a back grade on the assignment, and pushed on to the next lesson regardless of how much or how little was learned. And since learning is progressive, that makes little sense.

Frankly, it's the educational system that is the problem. The model, the way education is conducted doesn't promote learning. It's information in, information out for a grade. Wrong, wrong, wrong.

Worksheets are a waste of time in and out of class. And what's the point of weekly homework packets? Those packets are prepared in advance. What teacher has that much control over time in the classroom to be sure the assignments in the packet correspond to the work and understanding that's going on in the classroom? Not many, and if they do, then they're not teaching, they are just moving through the curriculum without regard to students' academic success.

One of the way's I got around the homework requirement was to give my students a choice of projects to do around a certain unit being done in the classroom. The project wasn't assigned until after a suitable amount of time was given to teaching the material, and a certain amount of assessing what the students were understanding (and this was generally done through daily reviews of the material covered that were question and answer periods, a jeopardy type game, group work, and sometimes a quiz). Students were given a rubric with all the requirements and expectations of the project, which gave them some responsibility and ownership in their work, and thus their learning. The only way to fail a project was to not do it, and that did happen.

I may not have been the perfect teacher, but I believed in my methods and they proved effective.

9/08/2006 3:59 AM  
Anonymous TheBizofKnowledge said...

Yes, I completely agree with the rant here! I don't see the point of giving elementary school kids so much homework, especially if it's just a re-hash of what they've already done in class during the day. If complaining to the principal or school board doesn't work, what else can be done? Any ideas?

9/22/2006 3:59 PM  
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