Growing up in a small town in Southern New Jersey

Friday, December 5, 2008

Home work

Not house work. Home work.

Alan and I were watching the news this morning and the pundits were talking about how much homework children are given these days and that the time they have to spend on that odious task is not allowing them to be children in their "off hours" from school.

Home work for kindergartners is not something I understand or can comprehend. Why would a teacher require that a 5 or 6 years old do homework when they get home. Seems cruel to me. Are teachers afraid that the child will forget what they learned in the 16 hours they are out of their teacher's control? I don't think so. I mean that might be what teachers are afraid of, but I don't think they will "forget" what they learned that day in school. I didn't. My sister didn't. My brothers didn't. Well, maybe they did a little bit.

But my point is, give the kids some credit that they will retain what they have learned that day.

I was a teacher. And I know I've ragged on this before. But when I attended Runnemede Public Schools back in the 40s and 50s, I did NOT have homework. Not once! Never! It wasn't until I got to high school that I even knew what homework was, and then it seemed that each teacher I had was in a competition to see which one could give the most homework. And, if you didn't do your homework, you COULD fail the course. Stupid. The homework was never graded, but if you didn't do it, you got a black mark and were threatened with failure.

And when I was teaching, I always gave enough time in the classroom for a student to get his/her homework completed in class if they worked at it, plus they had the advantage of having me nearby if there was a problem with their homework. I remember doing math homework and not being able to do it because I didn't know how to work the problem, and then turning in an incomplete homework assignment, fearing that I would fair the course because I hadn't been able to work all the problems assigned. I'm feeling the angst I felt then as I write this.

So, I learned to read, write, and cipher without doing homework. There were enough hours in the day for the teachers to get into my brain, and my classmates' brains what we needed to know to go onto the next grade level. And, we had time for recess each day, and time for music, and time for art, although for music and art we weren't sent to another teacher. Art was part of our classroom experience, and music was a combined effort by one of the teachers with whom we combined classes to have a time of singing or play rehearsal.

Alan went to boarding school from the time he was 9 and he said that after 4 p.m. each day there was no more school work. That was the time for sports or reading or just being a kid and doing kid things.

So, I have to ask, when do children today get to do children-type things. If they have two to three hours of homework a night (which is what was reported on the TV, if you can believe that) when do they get to go outside and ride their bike. When do they get time to play a game of Monopoly? When do they get to play with their dolls? I mean if they are in school from 8 to 3:30, and get home at 4:00 p.m. Homework would go until at least 6:00 p.m. at which time it would be dinner time. Then, figuring dinner is over around 7:00 p.m. it's time for baths and then to bed.

I know that my younger grandchildren are in bed by 8:00 p.m. They have to be because they have to be up by 6:30 in order to get on the bus by 7:30 in order to get to school by 8:00.

And so the circle goes. Poor kids!


1 comment:

Lori said...

I could not agree more!!! I remember when Madie brought home homework when she was in kindergarten and I was in disbelief! Granted, they each have super simple pages to do, but still. Is it necessary to do that page - regardless of its simplicity? Drives me crazy.