. Regurgitated Alpha Bits: There's a Special Place in Hell Reserved for Homework

Thursday, February 21, 2008

There's a Special Place in Hell Reserved for Homework

I was chatting today with my dear friend Caroline.* Like me, she is a teacher. Unlike me, she is a mother, which earns my unfailing respect because doing the teacher-thing AND the mother-thing is one spoonful of Kiddios too many for my taste.

Her mood was apparent from the first moment of our conversation. Her quiet, rapid fire "hello" when she answered the phone shot at me like a bullet and I actually winced when it hit me. With two small girls, a full-time job, a schedule chockfull of child-centered activities, a busy husband, a 1/2 remodeled house, and absolutely no time for herself, I couldn't fathom what she had to be upset about. I mean really! She should walk a mile in my shoes. I work full-time and I...well, I...

I blog. I blog AND I have pets to care for! Like she has a pot to piss in now!

The reason for her foul mood is as old as time itself, or at least as old as the Ed-Codes that mandate the cause of her mood. Like millions of other parents across this vast planet, she had just fought her nightly joust with her oldest child...

...over homework.

Picture this: Caroline stands at one end of the kitchen with a pencil in one hand, bearing a pot lid in the other for protection while her second grade daughter squares off at the other end of the room sporting a crayon and a trash can lid. Between them, a stack of poorly explained and excessively tedious homework assignments.

Their goal: To kill on contact or at least beat the other into submission.

They eye each other warily, all too familiar with the other's abilities as a warrior. And with a start, they race toward each other like knights in King Arthur's court, neither willing to break their cold, solid stare of determination. In a crash, they collide together somewhere around the kitchen table. Battered and bruised, they land in a heap on the floor atop the stack of homework and surrounded by their weaponry. Sometimes they call a truce and walk away from their clashes dazed and exhausted but otherwise unharmed. More often, one stomps off to her room in a crying fit (usually Caroline) while the other licks her wounds in silent relief that the battle has ceased for the night.

And for what? Some homework assignments that the teacher is, if she's anything like almost every teacher I know, going to file away in her special "oval filing cabinet"? What makes this filing cabinet so special? Well, the contents hold such esteem that the custodian comes daily to remove them and secure them in a metal vault located in the parking lot. There is even a special green truck that comes weekly to take the contents of this vault to a secret hiding place. If that doesn't demonstrate the value of homework to a teacher, I don't know what will.

Since Caroline is also a teacher, she is privy to this information. (What do you think she does with her students' homework?) Having this insider insight makes her nightly battles with her daughter all the more difficult because she knows she's fighting a battle over something that is ultimatly going to be garbage by the end of the week.

The real issue at hand is this, if getting a child to complete a homework assignment is more work than actually birthing the child in the first place, is it really worth it? Hell, at least you get drugs to help you get through child birth!

It begs the question: What is the real value of homework? I'll leave that for you to decide, Dear Reader.

Feel free to post your comments below.

*Caroline was a pseudonym used to protect my friend's privacy. (You're welcome, Carolyn. I know how much you love to be called Caroline!)


Anonymous said...

i agree with you. why do we need to give homework? it's ridiculous. the kids are in school for 6 hours a day. so they have to go home and work for another 1-2 hours? this is simply to "keep them busy" so they don't bug the parents or "get into trouble". it's b.s. if you ask me. just one more thing teachers have to plan every week only to know it doesn't go in the gradebook....

Edna Lee said...