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14 September 2006

The Homework Wars?

An opinion piece about a recent study on homework has been making the rounds in our school district this week. The only meaningful thing I can offer to this debate is what my keen teacherly common sense tells me about homework.

For starters, I have no expertise in elementary education, but would imagine that massive homework at that age would be out of order. I got by just fine without lugging home books and papers until middle school, best I can recall.

From there on, I would see myself as a middle grounder on this issue. We have kids coming to us from middle school who seem to think the word "homework" actually is code for "go home and play with six-foot cobras." Their aversion to the idea of it is bothersome, and smacks of spoiling. On the other hand, most high schools in the state now are on a block schedule system, meaning four classes a day for 90 minutes each. Each class only lasts for a semester, much like in college. I simply don't find the need to lay on massive homework after we've worked hard for that length of time. My general and CP level kids rarely get assignments beyond "study for tomorrow's test or quiz", while my honor's kids usually get something every night, generally in the way of reading.

I will also add that you have much more control over the whole cheatin' thang when you have the kids right in front of you. It is particularly beautiful when I give in-class writing assignments, because I can watch the usual band of cheaters and homework hustlers squirm, knowing that sneaking glances at someone's essay is pointless. Generally they just give up and do nothing, which makes for one easy paper to grade.

...

Along the lines of cheating, here was a nice nugget from yesterday. A student I've previously designated as Mr. Romeo is flunking badly. He has tested well in his life, which is why he has been considered an honors talent. But he's a total lazy ass, and only signed up for this year's honors class because his (now ex-) girlfriend also did.

Another student, the most curmudgeonly little almost-goth you would ever want to meet, always lets me know at the end of class who or what has annoyed her that day, even if it is just me. Yesterday, she told me Mr. Romeo offered her a dollar if she would let him cheat off her vocabulary worksheets. A whole dollar!

Don't empty the bank account there, Romeo.

2 comments:

Jeremy B. said...

A dollar? He can certainly offer better, especially if he is failing badly as you say.

When I worked as a Computer Science/Math Tutor in College, someone came in the last week of the semester asking for, basically an entire semester's worth of C programming assignments that he didn't bother with until the 4 hours before the class ended. for 40 bucks.

Aside from all of the ethical/moral reasons as to why this is a bad idea...

1) I punched up C programs in less than an hour before they were due with little or no problem, but to do about 10 of these in 4 hours in near impossible.

2) You might want to make the offer in a less conspicuous place than... the friggin' math lab. Where we tutor students who are at least pretending to make an effort. Anyone caught doing this could probably be ejected from the Unviersity, no refund, diploma, don't pass "GO", etc.

3) $40. Feh. I don't boot up for less than $50

You want to outsource your education? It's going to cost a bit more than you think.

School Master P said...

I just love the randomness of the $40.00 offer. It seems like $50.00 would be a natural starting place, so (again, all ethical questions aside) on top of everything else, the guy is lowballing you.

Must be cut from the same cloth.