Tuesday, March 10, 2015
Down With Homework
I had a good education from the very beginning. My mother read to us and told us stories. We could not afford a lot of books of our own but we had a public library. Until we were old enough to have library cards of our own we could choose books and my mother or father would check out the books we chose.
When I began to go to school I lived in a small town. Each classroom had three grades and one teacher. Kindergarten, 1st grade, and 2nd grade were all in the same room.
Mrs Cittercup was our teacher. While she would instruct one class the other two would study whatever had been their instruction previously.
In kindergarten we learned to print, read, spell, and do addition and subtraction. In first grade we read more difficult books, learned multiplication and long division, cursive handwriting, and grammar.
My family moved a lot. It was not until the 5th grade that I was in a school with enough pupils to have one grade in the room. But we were kept busy learning geography, science, and history as well as taking music classes and keeping our bodies physically fit.
We did a lot and learned a lot. It came easily to me but even the students who did not find learning easy kept up and learned the same things. I was not the only one. All the kids did it.
Even more remarkable was we did it with no homework. The only work I ever remember doing at home was reading a book in order to do a book report.
That is the point I wish to make. Homework is not necessary. As a matter of fact I believe most homework to be nothing but "busy work". Busy work is something that you do just to stay busy. There is no other reason to do it.
I occasionally had homework in high school. College gives a lot of homework. Those are different times in a person's life.
I was appalled when my grandchildren would come home with so much homework. Teachers tried to plan at least 1/2 hour of each subject.
Children need play time. It is the time they learn social skills. They learn to fend for themselves. They get exercise. Their imaginations are used. They learn to troubleshoot and police themselves. How will they have this necessary time when they have at least 2 hours of homework every night and more for the weekend?
Teachers are paid to teach. They should be able to instruct the children during school hours. Parents should not be the major instructors when homework is the way children learn.
As I said at the beginning I had a good education. Times have changed and technology has added new things to learn. But that happened when I was in school too.
Ask children today to recite the Preamble to the Constitution. Most cannot. Ask them why the Revolutionary War was fought. They have only a vague idea. Ask them to correctly spell and pronounce jewelry. Many were not taught spelling at all. Ask them to correctly use their, there, and they're in a sentence. You might receive a blank look. Do they know what an asterisk is?
Children are taught to use a calculator. They cannot do slightly complex mathematical exercises. How many children know who Madame Curie was and what contributions she made to science? How many children know who Jonas Salk was and what an insidious threat polio was to the world?
Speaking of new technology how many children know the history of telephones? How many know what is involved in the making of a video game? Can they explain what a pixel is?
Too many teachers foist the job of instruction off to the parents. Most parents are not qualified to teach properly. And there is plenty of time to teach at school.
Now I know from experience that teaching is a difficult job. But it is a job. That means someone is being paid to do it. The merits of whether they are paid enough is not what this is about. This is about the children.
Children need to have that play time. They need a few moments of each day to themselves. It is a part of their educations. Organized learning is for school. Free style learning is for home.