Wednesday, November 10, 2010

What's With All the Homework?

When I was in kindergarten, I had NO homework. I remember very clearly the first time I had to do something from school at home, in first grade, and how scandalized I was that the teacher dared to infringe on my time like that.

When my daughter was in kindergarten, she had homework once a week. We did it. I didn't like it, but we did it.

Now, ten years later, my youngest child brings home kindergarten homework every night. Two or more pages of it! Tonight's homework:

Page one: Practice drawing the letter j six times, then color several pictures that start with j.

Page two: Color and cut out eight pictures representing words that start with various letters, then glue them next to the right letter.

Pages three thru eight: Color a whole coloring book of half-sheet pictures of words that start with j.

To do a GOOD JOB on all that coloring would take me thirty minutes. It would take my son hours. So I don't require my son to do a good job on the coloring, even though that's teaching him to rush his work.

In fact, what this homework is teaching my child to do is sit still and do meaningless busywork. I don't want the public school system to manufacture people who will sit still and do meaningless busy work. I want it to turn out people who, among other things, can use their brains to understand things clearly and solve problems.

My son needs to practice making the letter J, yes, but does he need to do all that coloring and cutting? Every night? When there's a back yard and nice island weather outdoors and a whole neighborhood of friends to play with? Coloring and cutting probably isn't going to make him more competitive in the future job market, but good social skills might. I think I'm going to let him go out and play.


Kathy said...

I think it would be really good for you to share your insights with his teacher!! Sometimes all it takes is one clear-thinking person to make a difference. And in this case you would be benefiting all the kids in her classroom if you could help her see the difference between useful and non-useful homework!

Rebecca J. Carlson said...

Oh, yes, I wrote her a nice little note and asked if we could please have only one homework assignment per night.

Homework has uses, especially when you're learning intense new concepts that you must review every few hours or they won't stick in your brain. But how many times do we need to color the longest worm green and the shortest worm blue?