You see this in lots of "nice" activities that kids do, which are actually just time sinks that they are pressured or cajoled into. The most prominent example is playing instruments. Like half of kids learn to play an instrument at some point, but hardly any of them keep up with it when they are adults. Some people lament this as though it were some loss of innocence, but if playing an instrument was really a good use of time for most people, adults would do it, and kids would do it willingly. After 18 or more years of this sort of thing, I think it really sinks in that your time is basically worthless, and that it's not worth carefully considering how you spend it.
Of course, the opposite is true. Your time is the most precious, and in fact the only, resource that you have. You should guard it jealously, and only spend it on worthwhile things.
In this district it's two things:
1. Parents freak out when their kids don't have a lot of homework. How do I know? One teacher told me they got complaints if they assigned too little homework, and complaints = being fired.
2. Fear of not being good enough to complete in the rat race. This is on the part of parents and it drives #1.
I had long discussions with the principal of my son's middle school and I could tell he was completely powerless to make any changes. His job was to listen to me and make me feel heard. Problem was, I wanted action. I made my son update a spreadsheet, daily, of his homework per class. Estimated time to finish and actual time. It was a lot of data and when I delivered it to the principal he was a little speechless. He said he'd get back to me.
Btw, the spreadsheet proved one thing: the official amount of homework per day was complete bullshit. Officially it was 1.5 hours. In reality it was 3-4.
Weeks later I saw him at a school concert. He looked annoyed. He thanked me and said it was a "big help" and I could tell he thought he had more power than he did. He probably showed it to the superintendent of the district and they laid down the law. I never heard another word.
The problem is institutional, massively reinforced by the parents.
So we could ask, why are parents like this? One I touched on. The other is fear of what their kids will get into if they have free time away from home. I shit you not, I never see kids out and about in my city. On weekends, a little. During the week, never. Kids don't have free time (here) anymore. They have school. Some have sports and activities. The rest is eating and sleeping.
It is complete craziness and I hate it and I feel terrible for my kid, but I can't afford private school and we're locked into this until he's out of this particular system.
However, we live in an area (Berkeley) where yes, kids have homework, but every single day of the week, after school, all the kids on the street are running up and down, riding bikes, playing wall-all, shooting hoops, and running in and out of eachothers' homes.
In the evening, right when it gets dark, you see parents walking around or calling out their front door to ask the kids to come home. My son now carries a walkie-talkie with him and we signal to him to come home.
Your experience is likely a function of your environment. Our neighborhood school is definitely not a top 20 CA school--or even a top 100 or 250 school. But, our kids are happy (except when they have to come in for the night!) and in turn, so are we.
Any parent who doesn't actively want that for their children over sitting at home struggling with homework is clearly mad.
I really hope that eventually we come out of the other side of this obsession that children being forced to do large quantities of work that is joyless is a good thing. It is embedding all the worst associations between learning and enjoyment.
I'll be honest, I find some of Trump's protectionist promises very alluring, and they don't really seem all that unrealistic to me, at all. (Before you jump to your keyboard, yes, I'm well aware of the negative aspects of his personality.)
On the other hand, is that extra 2 hours actually valuable? Or at the very least, more valuable than 2 hours of physical activity and enjoyment that may lead your child to enjoy school more and get further later in life? The data presented in the article seem to agree with the latter.
PS: It's common for most states to have 'state' history as a subject. Sure, you can force kids to memorize such things, but it's generally a complete waste of time.
Either that or you live/work in a really awful area.
A market economy is a massive optimization process; an extraordinarily useful tool that we, the people, can deploy to achieve our goals. Forget this for too long, convince yourself that the market is inherently superior to human ethics, and it starts optimizing us for things we don't care about, or things that actively hurt us, expanding to fill the regulatory container we built for it. Then it starts to try and exert force to reshape that container.
Market fundamentalists that came into vogue in the US around 40-50 years ago have thoroughly destroyed progress in many areas of human development for the people of this country. "But they're not all like that" actively serves their interests by asserting that it's not quirks of the system we've crafted creating these incentives, it's simply a chance occurrence at a single company.
There is a startlingly huge gulf between the schools were the worry is "too much homework" and the schools were many children can barely read. I think the too much homework problem is legitimate...it's just amazing to me those schools and my schools can exist in the same country, in some cases just miles from each other. I think if my kid winds up with too much homework I will mostly be grateful that she is not spending instructional time outside waiting for the firemen to amble inside after another alarm.
I am in my late 20's. I remember homework. I was super excited about school when I started High School. I was in the GT program, I was doing my homework like a good boy. But when I started HS and the homework was piled on, I burnt out. I was spending 3-4 hours a DAY working on homework. I hated it.
By sophomore year, I had enough. I stopped doing HW. I went from an A+ student to a B/C student, but I had fun. I aced every test. I participated in class. I talked to the teachers about things after class/school. I even stuck around some classes after school and helped other students with their homework. I refused to do my own hw.
I went home and got into electronics. Picked up programming. Studied physics on my own. It taught me something, it taught me that I can teach myself. That I can learn on my own.
I understand that not everyone has the motivation to do so, but that is part of the fundamental problem. There are so many students in schools today that don't want to be there. I remember some of the worst trouble makers would disappear the day after they turned 16 and could legally drop out.
I was in a tech based magnet program within my HS, and everyone in the program WANTED to be there. That made the world of difference. We rarely had outbreaks in the tech hall, rarely had troublesome students in the tech-only classes (usually math, upper level comp/lit, sciences, etc). These people wanted to be there and wouldn't interrupt others. But the amount of homework assigned isn't going to make a difference to those who don't give a rat's ass about being there in the first place.
I think in the near future each teacher will have at most 7 students... and each student will get personalized attention?
Those teacher will come out of all the jobs that robots will disappear in manufacturing.
My own life experience tell me that success in elementary school does not equate with success in life. In fact even high-school and sometimes college are almost irrelevant to the kinds of tasks people have to solve once they get hired. It's more important to be creative, curious and passioned about something.
The risk here is that kids might end up considered "less intelligent" or that they might start considering themselves to be C students. This risk would have to be counteracted by the parents discussing their plans with the teachers ahead of time and explaining why they're encouraging their kid to slack off, and parents would have to find other ways to boost their kids self confidence and love of knowledge.
This really fucked me in college. I never learned how to study, just how to memorize things from a quick read and complete the minimum to pass a class. When I went into an engineering college, this fell apart around the fourth semester, as I was getting slower and slower during tests. Since I didn't study and homework wasn't mandatory to pass (or so I thought), I never really learned material until I saw it on a test. I learned a lot on tests (and I like working under pressure), but as the difficulty of the material increased, I wasn't able to teach myself at test time. This devolved quickly, and I left college.
tldr; homework's portion of your grade doesn't matter. Learning the habit to set aside time to work outside of what may appear to be required is the real skill. If you choose to encourage skipping homework, please impart this habit in some other way. It is not obvious to each individual, no matter how quickly they might grasp certain subjects.
I did some homework during the school day, generally at the expense of listening to the teacher lecture. Or, I jammed in some last-minute homework over lunch (half-assed effort simply to get credit for having attempted something).
It didn't impact my grades much. I was an A/B student, probably could have been straight-A if I wanted to be, but preferred playing sports, or just being a kid/teenager.
I had enough honors/AP course-work and extra-curricular activities to make up for slightly less-than-stellar grades. I ended up at the top public university in my state, alongside many of the straight-A students. Could I have gone to Harvard or Stanford with better grades? Maybe. But I probably would have gone to UVA regardless because of cost.
I learned everything I was meant to except for one: I never learned to be disciplined about work and how to study efficiently.
When I started university, my CS classes were fine because that was stuff I did for fun and had done since childhood, but my electives, like maths etc. suddenly took 10x the amount of effort I was used to putting in.
In retrospect I wish I'd been pushed to do more work. Not necessarily harder, but more.
I'm not saying I wish I'd spent all my time on homework, but getting used to actually having to work for things earlier would have made the transition a lot easier.
Each time it comes up, I start with ignoring the log altogether. If the teacher is paying attention he or she quickly realizes that my son is a strong reader and doesn't need the log. If the teacher insists, then we just make something up, write it down and move on.
I'm not sure what lesson my son is learning from this, but I'm sure it's not what the school is hoping for.
I was a few questions away from a perfect score on my SAT and had an app with over 2 million users so I still got into a good college. So it is doable and I would still encourage others to refuse to do homework.
This wasn't the case 15-20 years ago. When I started college (1995), good (but not perfect) grades, with a compelling life-story, were good enough. These days, there are simply too many students applying to college - the bar is much higher, even for schools that were previously considered fall-backs (JMU, GMU, VCU in my state).
Everyone would have us believe that "an education is what you make of it" yet the foundation of our society is apparently the opposite: The education is what makes you.
EDIT: and I forgot to mention, I'm just one half of his parents. The other half doesn't believe what I believe. I am in the vast minority in my city.
For late elementary and junior high, I don't remember whether or not homework was a large enough part of the grade to fail you if you took a 0 on all of it. In high school, I think homework was a small portion... something like 10-20% of the grade. So you could blow off homework if you aced everything else. You had to get at least a 70 average to pass (we didn't do D grades), so if homework was 20% then you had to get at least an 88 average on everything else in order to pass the class. And I think I have vague memories of homework being 30% in some of my high school classes, which means you'd have to perfectly ace everything if you wanted to take a 0 on all your homework.
And there could be consequences for extracurriculars if you were taking low grades in your classes. I remember that in junior high, you could only go to the school dances if you had at least in 80 in all your classes, and in high school, if you were failing even one class you couldn't participate in any school sports.
Worth pondering this phrasing, I think.
1. File an annual private school affidavit.
2. Maintain an attendance register.
3. Instruction must be in English.
4. Instructors must be capable of teaching.
5. Provide instruction in the courses commonly taught in the public schools (e.g., language arts, math, science, social studies, health, and driver training).
6. Maintain immunization records or personal beliefs exemption.
7. Maintain a list of courses of study.
8. Maintain a list of instructors with their addresses and qualifications.
This is MINIMALLY enforced. If the parent has a teaching credential, the rules are even more lax "The child must be taught for at least three hours a day, between 8:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m., for 175 days each school year in the several branches of study required to be taught by the public schools and in the English language."
On a related side notes, private schools also do not have to follow the curriculum set for public schools. There are even some public schools that are exempted from parts of the mandatory curriculum (charters).
I've looked in to this for my two year old son in the UK because I'm unhappy with a number of the principles and policies of the education system here. Not least of which the religious leaning that many local schools have. I'm not happy for my son to be taught there's a "God" from such a young age. Anyway...
Over 50,000 children are home schooled in the UK and apparently this figure is on the up each year. The laws vary slightly between England/Wales and Scotland so I'll focus on England as that's where I'm based.
If you want to home school your kid you need to adhere to one simple rule. You must give your child a "suitable education". There's actually case law and precedents set here, and the case law cites that home schooling should be sufficient to: "prepare the children for life in modern civilised society, and to enable them to achieve their full potential."
This is clearly a broad statement, and intentionally so. This means that home schooling parents do not need to adhere to the curriculum taught in schools, nor do their children need to sit the exams that their school taught counterparts will undertake.
Parents do not have to prove that they have the necessary skills to provide this education. Local authorities can request informal visits to home schooled children (but that's unlikely given how under resourced they are). A local authority could take steps to force a kid back in to school but they would have to be very unsatisfied with the level of home schooling.
Time isn't tracked. It's not about the amount of time you spend teaching your kid, it's about providing a suitable education - whatever that means. The kid doesn't have to take a school test...ever!
Given the research I've undertaken to date if I do decide to home school I would almost certainly join forces with a local group of home schoolers who tend to meet up once a week and compare notes whilst taking their spawn on day trips. I think it's healthy for kids to have a network of peers regardless of whether they're in school, and it's somewhat healthy to compare your child's progress with that of others.
I would educate my kid in a way that he would be capable of taking and passing the exams all school taught kids take in secondary school when they're 15/16. Reason being that if he decides to go to college and/or university he'll have the same qualifications as everybody else.
I think more than the decision to home school or not is the obligation parents have to ensure that they don't simply throw their children in to education without performing appropriate due diligence. Too many parents I know see schools as free childcare and justify their decision to pick a state school on the basis that "it's the law". Parents have a number of choices in how to educate their kids and blindly selecting the wrong path can lead to disastrous results.
It's very liberal, practically libertarian. And I think sadly the reason it's been allowed to continue like this where other countries have cracked down is that the UK does not have much of a tradition of taking your kid out of school for crackpot religious or political reasons. Maybe it will start to become a problem (qv the Scottish "named persons" scheme kerfuffle).
I see CofE religious education as harmlessly ineffective, possibly even an effective vaccine against getting religion in later life.
I had far more fun than my peers, learned how to allocate my time and learned about various fields of study. We formed a community with other local unschoolers/homeschoolers. I went to school from age 12-16 and found it to be soul draining. It is the only period of my life I spent unhappy and disengaged. It was too slow, provided useless information and generally made people regress.
I am planning to unschool my children. All of the scare tactics around socialization are so inaccurate. I just did what I wanted, which included team sports, and found myself in leadership roles often. Read John Holt if you want to better understand how detrimental school is to actual creative development. All four of my grandparents were educators of some kind and if not for that exposure my parents would never have had first hand experience with the detriment school has on developing young people
So when they started learning about religions, my son came home and excitedly told us about Ganesh and Shiva.
But at the end of the entire round, at some point he told me unprompted "I don't believe in god, but I won't tell the other kids, just like with the Tooth Fairy or Santa" (we'd given him strict admonitions when he realised they weren't real to not "correct" the other kids if they come up because some of them might get upset).
Kids spend a lot of time around this age coming to terms with things they believe turning out to be false, and learning to discern them, so in general I think that unless they have a lot of adults actively ganging up and strongly reinforcing something, chances are very good they'll come out not believing.
In fact, I spent more time with my son reassuring him that various real-life things that seems unbelievable to him are actually true (first and foremost, he finds it incredibly hard to believe YouTube didn't exist when I was a kid... I might as well have claimed I had a pet dinosaur growing up; coming to terms with whether or not God is real is apparently far easier than accepting that there was life before YouTube)
Awesome. Please, oh please call your kids as minions or henchmen/women" when next talking with them. :D
Homeschooled children don't have to be socially isolated. Some areas have many groups of various sorts and some children opt to take electives at schools (gym, music, art) or get involved in various after school activities. A lot depends on the area you live in.
He genuinely seems to like the social aspects of school.
Anyway, homeschooling isn't an option for us. I have a demanding tech job and my wife works and is otherwise unsuited for managing homeschooling.
They attend a charter school. We live in the same school district that I attended as a child. The local schools are decent but the charter school is getting some fantastic results. These schools are taking children from low performing, impoverished areas and getting test scores that rival(or equal) test scores from affluent areas.
One of my children usually finishes her homework before she leaves school and the teacher gives her "Extra credit" work to keep her from getting bored.
The other one needs several hours after school to finish her homework. She has a low threshold for frustration and takes several breaks as she works on the homework. As her father, I can say that she needs the work in order to learn the material.
I guess that the optimal load varies wildly from child to child and unfortunately, schools don't have the ability to adjust the workload individually and still provide objective evaluations of their performance.
I'm not sure why, but they are terrible at creating happy, healthy, and intelligent children.
Your post adds more fuel to my inner argument.
Basically, it's a vicious cycle. Generation X is of the "Nomad" archetype, and the current generation of kids, along with the Silent Generation, are of the "Artist" archetype. "Nomad" parents have "Artist" kids who grow up to become parents of "Nomad" kids, and so on...
(a break here: Silents are born 1925-1942, Xers are born 1961-1981, and the current generation of kids -- which I don't think has a well-accepted name yet -- are born 2005 to present)
"Artist" kids are raised by strict parents who expect the world of them -- punished for even the most minor transgressions but never praised for doing the right thing, they grow up repressed, and eventually hit a mid-life crisis where they finally snap and seek self-fulfillment late in life... typically after they've had kids. The kids, who are of "Nomad" generations, grow up being forced to take care of themselves because their parents are either a) off finding themselves and neglecting the kids and/or b) determined not to repeat their parents' mistakes and give the kids a little too much free rein. As such, "Nomad" kids become hard-edged, self-reliant cynics. When they grow up, however, they decide that unlike their parents, they're going to properly settle down and give their kids the structure they never had, and so they set high expectations and micromanage their kids' lives. These kids, of an "Artist" generation grow up horribly repressed, and in adulthood snap and finally seek the self-fulfillment they were denied in youth...
The short version: "Artists" grow up with too much structure, try to make up for it later in life and end up raising "Nomad" kids with too little structure, who then try to make up for it later in life and end up raising "Artist" kids with too much structure, and so on...
It's a really interesting theory, and the cycles of how different generations raise their kids is pretty core to the generational archetypes that drive the theory.
(and if you're interested, there are two other archetypes: the "Prophet" archetype exemplified by the Baby Boomers, and the "Hero" archetype exemplified by the GI Generation and the Millennials)
(and little personal anecdote here: I'm a Millennial child of a Silent father and a Boomer mother. This describes my dad's life to a T. He had a pretty repressed youth, he's acted like an immature troll for my entire life and he's only gotten more immature in his old age, he ended up leaving my mom when I was 6, my mom frequently describes him as "selfish" and "unthinking" -- and I'll add "scatterbrained" to the list -- and he spent the last 25 years flitting around from lifestyle to lifestyle, ending up spending several years as a cab driver in Vegas)
Thanks so much. I'm gonna look into this more now!
Though 30% seems still pretty doable. I assume you need 50% total not to fail? You could get by without, (or more realistically by concentrating on doing a few pieces of homework with a high percent / effort ratio).
D is generally considered unsatisfactory, although you might be able to get away with 1 or 2 here or there.
In what sense? I mean, what happens if you get too many Ds? (Or even Fs?)
This is all very foreign to me. When I was in primary school in thr UK 20 years ago we never received a single piece of homework and the only time we got graded was a national standardised test which was positioned as being more about the school than about us.
Homework though (of a school variety)... let's say I'm not convinced. :D
> The problem is institutional, massively reinforced by the parents.
> It is complete craziness and I hate it and I feel terrible for my kid
I sincerely can't understand what it is I'm reading.
My daughter has started taking music lessons and in the last 6 months I've noticed a very similar thing happening. Ever since she started taking guitar lessons, she has started displaying more patience and confidence in herself than in other tasks like reading and school work than before. It's like it's starting to click with her that reading and math are like her music lessons; it takes practice, and she'll get it soon.
The ability the play the instrument is not nearly as valuable as the experience in learning, improving, and using your brain in ways that doesn't involve math and reading.
I’ll agree, however, that music is an essential part of human cultural heritage, and every person should be given the chance to learn to play an instrument. Just as every person should at least a little bit learn how to cook, and to sing, and to dance, and to juggle, and to sew, and to program computers, and to write mathematical proofs, and to build wooden furniture, etc...
I think the great-grandparent poster was talking about something different though. Not teaching a child to play an instrument for a year or two to delight in music’s intrinsic value and then optionally continuing it if the child expresses interest, but ramming rigorous lessons down a child’s throat, forcing the child to spend years in training that he or she thinks is boring or a waste of time.
As someone who ran D1 track & field yet can also play Liszt's Transcendental Étude No. 10, I would have to disagree with you. I think that running has had a much deeper impact on my physical and mental development than the process of slowly refining a niche skill.
There's a lot of controversy over whether kids should be "pushed" or "forced" to learn music. My observation (my own childhood and my kids) is that some kids will push back on anything that they're asked to do, even if it's something that they genuinely want to continue doing.
I'm lucky, and delighted, that music "took" with my kids. They're teenagers now, and actually like classical music.
If possible, I suggest looking for a program where your daughter can play in ensembles, group lessons, recitals, etc. For instance Suzuki violin programs involve the youngest kids in recitals, and there are people teaching guitar in the same way. This will bring out yet another of the benefits of music, namely the interaction with other people in a cohesive activity. And performing, in and of itself, is a beneficial skill. A lot of what I do in professional life is akin to performance.
What I got out of it is that I have no talent for playing music, playing a trumpet well is really hard, I can recognize when a musician plays a trumpet exceptionally well, and Herb Alpert is the best trumpet player that ever lived.
Doing any sort of sport will likewise teach you that "practice makes perfect". So would knitting, drawing, singing in a choir or doing magic tricks with cards.
What are school-aged people spending their precious time on?
Clash of Clans?
Call of Duty?
Maybe it's okay if we ask them to set aside a few hours to read a book or practice solving an equation or trying to do something that isn't immediately easy.
Why are these any less beneficial than homework that's been demonstrated to have no benefit to the child? Until high school, there's literally no reason for the kid to be practicing math after school.
Maths is fun. That's a reason.
Maths is useful and some children can't pay attention in class. That's a reason too.
Analytical and creative thinking expands the mind, ergo maths.
Different kids have different needs. Busywork for homework certainly isn't useful except as a way solely to keep a child occupied.
When I was a kid (at a Montessori school — no homework) I used my free time to learn programming, tinker with chemistry kits, and read while my public school friends toiled away at homework.
I guess that other kids could squander their free time in pointless gaming or Internet browsing, but there will be a few (or ALL of them, if you buy Maria Montessori's thoughts on the matter) that will use their free unstructured time to learn something interesting to them.
Either way, I think your social position shows through in your reasoning. Being able to learn programming or tinker with chemistry kits at least to a point requires parents that encourage and/or support that kind of pastime. A lot of kids don't have that, and will simply not be exposed to the existence of programming and chemistry kits. (Books are generally more accessible, but there's also something to be said for parents encouraging and supporting reading – the people I know who like to read also have parents who like to read, and the people I know who don't like to read have parents who also never read, for what it's worth.)
I was extremely lucky. My parents were both educators and very engaged. I hope to be the same to mine. But parents like this are all to often not part of a child's life.
The incredibly difficult trick is to find the right balance between relaxing and working, and to encourage an interest in valuable educational activities without forcing it.
Why do you think so many fail to keep up with an instrument as an adult? Oh that's right, upon entering adulthood we figure out that we have to dump 40+ hours into earning pennies while the company we work for earns millions.
Earning even a basic income is the real time sink. What most people do all day long, at least 5 days a week, is the real busywork. Society would be much improved if every adult spent a good chunk of their time in the arts. Yet we continue to pretend that if every adult doesn't spend 40 hours doing corporate busywork that the economy would fall apart.
Who's going to pay for everyone else to have free time?
That's really what you're implying here: It's an underlying theme stemming from the assumption that we must have an economy based solely on the output of individuals.
What if all economic output comes from machines doing all the work? Why would people clean toilets or wash dishes if they didn't have to? Wouldn't their time be better spent on their hobbies (e.g. art)?
The number of hours expected of an employee is hardcoded for employers. Whether it's 20-something hours or 40 hours depending on your region, this is essentially a fixed number that will probably never change.
If that were the case, then you're saying we abolish property ownership? Because i don't see how else can everyone benefit in such a system.
The only way out that I see is something like Guaranteed Basic Income (GBI) along with socialized medicine. Everyone gets a handout from the government that's enough to live a decent life. Food and shelter could be free; which would make sense if agriculture is 100% automated (why let all the profits and control be saddled into only a handful of people?).
Then everyone that wants to can compete for making more money via their passions and hobbies or, for the few that can do it, actual work/employment.
Service industry is hard to automate - though we've done a good start with the dishwasher. Only 1 fulltime guy needed for every 100 people or so? That's pretty good progress.
So yeah, we'll always need folks for services. And we'll have to pay them well in future! That's seems a pretty good future to me.
Unfortunately all of that neuroplasticity is wasted on the young. :)
That’s definitely not true. I’ve spent enough time hanging out with small children of various backgrounds to observe that they are in general far more curious and self motivated to learn and explore than adults are. (Of course, some adults maintain this same imagination and curiosity.)
What they often aren’t motivated to do is memorize lists of irrelevant-seeming facts or work through endless identical arithmetic problems.
>What they often aren’t motivated to do is memorize lists of irrelevant-seeming facts
This is basically the issue. They don't understand that many things are important to learn to build the necessary base to move beyond a superficial understanding of the physical world.
Trigonometry per se, as it is currently taught, is a boring and not very important subject, not worth spending more than about 2–3 weeks on sometime in maybe 10th grade (for a typical student), maybe 10 hours of total class time. Its form is a historical anachronism, dating from a time when there were no pocket calculators or general-purpose computers, and the only way to do science or engineering involved doing lots of hand arithmetic and consultation of big lookup tables printed in books, so it was important to be able to convert many types of problem into a form compatible with the available tables, and thus it was essential to memorize a large number of abstract formulas as shortcuts to tricky reasoning. Nowadays, you can easily solve a broad range of such problems using a computer algebra system or other type of computation, and learning to understand the reasoning is more practically important than memorizing the formulas, but the standard trigonometry course hasn’t caught up.
Moreover, the trigonometry taught in high schools now is based on the understanding from of several centuries ago, and hasn’t changed to incorporate any more recent advances in related fields. The current trigonometry course could be skipped altogether and replaced with a basic course in geometric algebra, from which the current content of a typical high school trigonometry course is a completely trivial set of corollaries. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geometric_algebra (Obviously a high school course would not be at the same level of abstraction as this Wikipedia article.) This would have the advantage of radically simplifying and clarifying nearly every college mathematics, science, and engineering course.
If you really like trigonometry and you wanted to make an interesting course on the subject, or on triangle geometry more generally, one could certainly be devised. Such a deeper and more interesting course would then deserve more work and more respect. Students would probably even find solving the problems to be fun. There are many surprising and beautiful theorems related to triangle geometry which students should be exposed to as part of their cultural heritage but currently are not.
The worst part was having to fight to fit those useful electives in around the college-prep track bullshit I had to take. There was some assumption that nobody would ever want to take both shop and AP courses, so they had a nasty habit of trying to schedule them in the same blocks.
Though, to be honest, the only part of high school that is memorable is the second semester of my senior year, after I'd locked up the valedictorian spot and gotten accepted to college. I cut a lot of school to go fishing and cut firewood that spring, after basketball season finished up.
On the other hand, I believe that the time can be far more wisely spend on actual interesting things, incorporating this "mindless busywork"/repetition - it's just not simple or easy to figure out what the activities and problems should be, and in many cases the children need some guidance as well, and/or should be in groups doing this. Given that many parents are unable to help their children because they lack the knowledge to do so, the teachers do the next best thing they know.
Secondly, it's not easy. So sticking though with it teaches you self discipline.
I know a lot of adults and kids who do it willingly. Myself included. The reason we do it willingly is because at some point we were forced to learn how to play music and we stuck with it for a few years; after all that time we got good at playing instruments, and started enjoying it. It also became much easier to learn new instruments and songs, boosting the enjoyment.
But we would never have reached this point if we weren't forced to drudge through the years of hard work.
I would argue, regarding the value of learning a musical instrument, that it's worth children sampling many things to even figure out what they will like spending their time on. How will they know they will care about music without exposure to it?
My school was quite forward thinking. E.g. they taugh us recursion using Logo in year 3 of primary school. This was early 90s.
But still, our homework was completely useless and incredibly time consuming. I vividly remember it was calibrated to make us spend 2.5 hours on it per day, and this was after a 9-5 sequence of lectures. Completely insane and alienating.
The whole experience of learning is about practice. Early on this can be in well crafted exercises and simple homework.
I'm sure that homework can be counterproductive and poorly managed, but I've seen it succeed in moderation (2-3 hours daily).
The German educational system that "the west" generally uses hasn't had a "git push" in at least 150 years. Until widespread recorded music technology and broadcast technology existed, being a musician was a very realistic vocational choice. Relative pay was much higher than now. Sure the pay wouldn't be as good as a carpenter or plumber, but its a nice mostly indoor and clean job, true the employer might want you to cross train as a waiter or bartender, but patrons like hearing music and before radio and records, music came directly from middle-class-ish hands. Some day public schools will advance beyond 1900 in general. Some day.
Another aspect of mass aspirational education is its a window into what the middle class thinks the upper class does all day. The fact that it has nothing to do with what the upper class actually does is completely irrelevant, as long as they can easily and visibly compete among themselves for superiority in their imaginary game. So the middle class has built a whole elaborate mythology about the path into the promised land being reading the finest literature to each other and poetry and gazing into fine art paintings and, yes, playing and listening to classical music. That way you can fool the college admissions and interview counselors into thinking you're actually a Vanderbilt, or come from old European royalty, etc. I assure you they are not that stupid, but its an unstoppable belief, its an article of faith for middle class people. Amusingly due to my grandparents, I spent time as a little kid with the kids of extremely wealthy people, and I can assure you that in reality the 7 year old of a billionaire digs in the mud and plays catch and makes sand castles just like any other kid, and very rarely indeed recite Greek poetry, listen to Mahler, or gaze into old dutch master paintings. They do have very interesting "money is no object" life experiences but most of their time is spent not spending money at "no object" rates of speed. Very early I learned upper class people get very pissed off when you compliment them on their stuff, on the implication that they don't have enough money for the best. With the side effect that they feel no need to show off (showing off is a middle to upper middle class thing) so you'll never see a real Picasso in an upper class kids bedroom, but you will see a Picasso reproduction or poster in an upper middle to middle class kids bedroom.
Our elementary school did mandatory xylophones in 2rd grade and recorders in 3rd for all the kids. From 4th grade on you could opt in to playing any instrument, though if you needed to play a school instrument is was the usual suspects of violin, flute, clarinet, sax, and trumpet. If you already had access or were playing one you could bring your own.
I was gonna bag it and not opt in. My parents (strongly) suggested I pick one for the year and give it a whirl. I tried the violin and sucked so very badly. Mid year I switched to clarinet because that's what was available and I was going to quit entirely if I had to continue with violin.
Side note- my sister played as well and has gone into software development after excelling at school and university, specifically science. My brother did terribly in school, didn't graduate, and gave up on music on about day two (he's wound up being very successful any way though).
By my 8th grade year I was an extremely accomplished clarinet and sax player (first chair, solos, competition band, marching band, performed on some recorded albums, etc.) and I swear I started feeling dumber after I gave it up. I played in my very limited free time in highschool as I was way more dedicated to sports and our HS band was good enough that you could do sports or band, you could absolutely not do both.
I looked into it and there are a few studies that suggest people that participate in playing instruments often do better in school and are more mathematically inclined. I'm lacking sources as I'm on my phone.
I agree that most busywork homework is bullshit. I'm okay with the monthly/bi-quarterly assignments that require free form thinking and finding your own way on a subject like research papers, craft based projects, book reports and such. Anything that lets my child delve into their thoughts I'm okay with, as long as they get a sufficient amount of time that they are able to go deep, and not just churning out crap.
I will absolutely cajole my kids to try a plethora of instruments. If we get through strings, woodwinds, percussion, and brass and they haven't found a winner- then we can bag it. I expect it'll be two or three years of trying. If they seem like they really hate it or we've exhausted our options, we'll let it be. Given the amount of music we surround them with now, and how they interact with it (drumming, Casio keyboard, dancing), I think we'll find a way to keep them involved in music.
I think the important lesson for learning an instrument is that you improve by putting in effort. There are gonna be songs that you couldn't play a month ago but now you can and that gives you a sense of achievement and an appreciation of hardwork. The actual technical skill of playing is just a vessel for this character learning.
I will say, as someone who has worked in education, education as an area is incredibly cargo cult-filled. Even educational research, and educational theory is full of culty trends (that seemingly change entirely every few years) and aren't what I'd call scientifically rigorous.
As this article itself says we've known since the 1980s that homework at that age was harmful and we've known since the 1990s that older kids need a later start, but has that changed anything? Not that I've seen, High School level kids still start at 7:30am here and homework is still given to elementary school-age kids.
Education has remained largely unchanged since the 1950s or before (technology not withstanding), and we've likely spending more on educational research and training now as we ever have, and what are the results? How much has school really changed in our lifetime? If anything they've only doubled-down with classical education being popular again, homework for homework's sake, learning for the tests, heavily structured classes, and subjects which both kids and staff call useless.
I just want to say I am not shitting on teachers. Teachers do a fantastic job under difficult conditions and near constant criticism. This is a structural problem, not a teacher problem. It is at the school district/state education/educational research level, it is also somewhat intertwined within teacher education itself (e.g. continuous learning, but learning this year's latest trendy teaching technique which will be forgotten and discarded in a year).
People are resistant to change even when they say they want change (politics is a great of example of wanting "change" but having a fit when things actually change).
I have no problem with showing kids different ways to conceptualize a problem, but marking 5 x 3 = 5 + 5 + 5 wrong is just madness.
I feel like there is some deeper cultural problem afoot. Why don't educators get the benefit of the doubt that other professions are given? I never hear people decry the way in which their doctors are going about their doctoring!
On a practical level, people understand adding but they don't understand how the endocrine system interacts with the immune system and how diet affects that interaction.
If it makes you feel any better, the programming profession isn't much better.
Personally, I love educators for sticking in there, but:
1. There has been basically no major disruption in this field in at least a hundred years. I have a hard time thinking of another field like this.
2. I have no confidence that changes would happen even if someone figured out how to teach kids twice as well with half as many teachers.
3. Educators, as a community, aren't exactly scientific. For example, many of them push for universal pre-K, which isn't exactly settled science.
It doesn't matter if its stupid or effective, there's a common theme of very early adult learning experiences such as military basic training, young doctors 36 hour shifts, apprentices in the crafts, where something akin to hazing turns teens into productive adults. So you do pushups in the mud until you puke, suture lacerations until you collapse asleep, and sweep floors and other grunt work for your first months with the journeymen and masters. Programmers haze noobs by forcing them to recite algorithms in whiteboard interviews.
Now I emphasize that its probably a stupid way to train a doc or a plumber or an attack helicopter mechanic, but its just how we haze while telling ourselves its learning, and wrapping it all up in layers of rationalization. And for parents, critically its the most recent example of learning. Even if their own school experience didn't suck, their internship or apprenticeship or basic training sure did, and that's how its supposed to be, in an abused grow up into abusers mentality.
So "obviously" the kids need to do timed arithmetic worksheets for hours until they cry, or stay up half the night writing essays the teachers won't read anyway. That's what "real learning" is all about, right?
Also, the idea of homework is that the kid will try to learn the material at home and parents will help. If you remove that, you put more pressure on the teacher to teach them the things they are supposed to know. You've already got them testing or preparing for tests for a large part of the day, teaching them things is really going to cut into watch-a-video time.
I hated math in high school, mainly because of how it was taught to me. Even as someone who was a proliferate reader and was quite inquisitive, I never realized just how much I was missing until college. By the time I experienced math and got the chance to see the beauty in its concepts, I had effectively wasted years dealing with formulas and memorization. Even now, I get angry when I think about how poor my math education was and everything that I didn't get a chance to enjoy at the time. And that's coming from what was a pretty good school district. I shudder to think how much worse my experience could have been at a bad one.
Anyhow, what are you talking about with Common Core? CCSSI wasn't written by politicians. It was written by subject field experts. Teachers had a great deal of input, but in general, teachers can only offer anecdotal data. You need to take that anecdotal data, combine it with findings from educational researchers who have undertaken rigorous research using the scientific method, and use that data to guide subject field experts in developing educational standards. Especially for elementary education, where teachers have to--by definition--be more generalists than anything else. Common Core did that, and every analysis I've seen over the past few years supports the conclusion that they're a significant improvement over previous state standards.
Most of the arguments against Common Core are either largely political themselves or significantly misinformed about what Common Core is. The ones against the math standards in particular can largely be summed up as "you're doing it differently than I learned it." No shit. That's the point. And the arguments against state and national standards are particularly amusing, as if fucking math changes based on the state you're in.
What's your source?
The actual link from LeMonde is at the bottom but it's behind a paywall.
Think Neo being pulled out of the Matrix, only in reverse.
Of course different nations are going to have their own biased version of the things listed above, but I suppose that's okay.
What's undeniable is that we have reached the point where it's impossible for any human to even be able to consume all the art produced by mankind, let alone understand all our technology, in a single lifetime.
Until we figure out medical immortality, children should be informed of all the options available to them, as early as possible. Fluency in tools that are a de facto requirement of modern society; cars, computers, smartphones, even things like Facebook and online privacy – should be taught as soon as possible.
Teaching broad concents seems better than fluency in any individual techology (that will be complete outdated before the kid reaches adulthood). I'm not even sure how that would work: Here kid, here are all of the technologies that we think are important to you (and whose companies have supplied us with training materials). You shall learn an iPhone, the internet through Bing, a Honda car, and how to use Facebook. We won't teach you how any of these work, or even any of the basic concepts behind the world you live in, you can figure it out yourself by using Bing.
You are in the United States of America. ...for example, and so on, until moving to: This is our technology. [video showing everything from phones and server farms to planes and space stations]
Then of course gradually explaining how everything works, according to their age, and of course not limiting it to specific products or services, but yes, definitely teaching them to how to look up more information through the internet. Teaching them to teach themselves; how to sift for the factual information from among all the noise.
education as an area is
incredibly cargo cult-filled.
we've known ... homework at
that age was harmful
You can carve a block of wood to look like a radio and mutter into it all day, but generally speaking it's not going to summon a cargo-airplane to your airfield of chopped reeds.
Getting to school is very difficult for some people, especially if they come from a poor family. In high school, just getting there was such a hassle. I took three different busses. I remember getting up a 5 a.m. to get to there. And my student advisor(the principal) told me I needed to work on my attitude.
To take it further, never understood the reason to be at pretty much any job before 10 a.m.
Construction is notorious for early hours. Pretty much nothing gets done before that first coffee break.
A fixed and mandatory early start time serves as a proxy for general discipline and a means to conclusively demonstrate one's willingness to follow instructions and do things in the institutionally mandated way despite personal dislike of them.
More realistically, I've worked flex jobs and no matter how much waking up at 4am sucks, going home from work at 2pm rocks so much more that it balances out.
Worked in flooring last year. Hours were 8 to 4. Coffee stop was on the way in. Generally started right away, but that's more of a show-up-to-customer-and-get-to-work deal. Couldn't start before 8 because noise
The terrifying thing is that nearly every field (including, eg, medicine) is like this. Once there's a system in place that mostly kinda works, people are extremely reluctant to make any serious changes.
Making small changes over the years is the right thing to do unless you want to play the mad scientist with other people's lives. Of course do not change anything at all is bad, but the "serious change" approach is frightening, or at least should be.
In high school we normally started at 8:30am. Because my school didn't have enough room for everyone, we started at 2pm twice a week.
The 2pm days were my favourite.
I did take the power of hindsight, but I realize now how good my elementary education was at that school.
And how many kids don't get to have that same level of education. It wasn't cheap, but it's a shame all kids don't get to experience that.
The most important thing I learned there was how to think critically and come to my own conclusions on matters.
EDIT: Now that I'm reminiscing, my favorite memory is over the course of a few afternoons in 7th grade retreating to the comfy reading area and picking up and reading the classroom's copies of Catcher in the Rye and Lord of the Flies.
It's incredibly expensive but also well worth the sacrifice.
"It's incredibly expensive"
It is possible that the second obeservation has somthing to do with the first... and perhaps more than the Montessori method itself does.
Also, where we are Montessori was no more expensive than a Catholic private school. But to my eyes, the Catholic school just looked like public school, but obviously more upscale (and also teachers have more freedom, small classrooms).
But I was attracted to to Montessori because of the methods. For example, if a child is focused on an activity, the teacher will not interrupt them just because 'geography hour is over' or some arbitrary boundary. Letting the kids develop focus and concentration at an early age was a big selling point for me.
Clearly, having money doesn't make you a good parent. And you don't have to have money to be a good parent. But it does undeniably have an impact on the statistics.
I couldn't agree more. In fact, I grew up in an extremely poor family, and my mother is an excellent mother!
But I also know how difficult it can be for a poor, single parent.
My point was that those who would choose to pay for their children to attend a Montessori school are a self selecting group, and I am not confident that if you took an average public school and turned it into a Montessori school that it would work as well as your private school. (It might very well work better than an average public school, though.)
> It's incredibly expensive
I suppose this depends on where you live. We're perfectly happy with what we spend in the Dallas area and would gladly spend more. However, the 18 months we lived in the Seattle area, Montessori was unfortunately not an option. On the low-end, it was 2.5x as much. To have similar quality facilities, it was easily 5x as much.
There are some very good private schools available after that, but those are 2x-3x the annual cost we currently pay. Luckily, we have a few years until we have to make any decisions.
That said, I agree with you: It's worth every penny. I would work nights at a fast food joint, scrubbing the bathroom floors with my own toothbrush to keep my son there. He loves it more than we do.
So, no more wearing the cape to school!
That's so true. They taught us how to be functioning individuals who could take care of ourselves.
> "With only rare exception, the relationship between the amount of homework students do and their achievement outcomes was found to be positive and statistically significant."
Yeah so let's ban elementary homework, amirite??
> "Kids burn out," Cooper said. "The bottom line really is all kids should be doing homework, but the amount and type should vary according to their developmental level and home circumstances. Homework for young students should be short, lead to success without much struggle, occasionally involve parents and, when possible, use out-of-school activities that kids enjoy, such as their sports teams or high-interest reading."
I'd need to track down the whole paper to know for sure, but his attitude here seems to advocate 10 minutes of homework (varied topic, positive, etc.) for elementary school kids, in addition to the 20 minutes or so of reading time they should have. This is what I see at the elementary school (public) where I teach. And I think it works well.
Are we really railing against 10 minutes of homework for an elementary school kid? I need this time - to check in with my kids when they finish and talk about the answers together.
EDIT: Here's another synopsis of the same group of studies, but backed with some actual data, along with recommendations for how homework could be more effective.
I experienced what you describe, and it was never even called homework. It was learning spelling, times tables, or reading a chapter of a book. Probably from age 8-11, with no homework before age 8.
If we are chosing between two buckets, "homework for elementary" and "no homework for elementary", the second is much much safer, especially in the age of helicopter parents.
Yet we put our kids in school five days a week, eight hours a day, then we give them homework for nights and weekends!
Do kids spend 8 hours a day at school now? Back when I was in school, it was 9-3, including an hour for lunch, plus 5 minutes between classes. On top of that, we got a lot more vacation than I've gotten at any job. If I do the math on it, we spent a total of less than 1000 hours a year in school, less than half the time I spend at work in a year.
Plus lunch and 8 minutes between classes.
The school day is from 9 - 4.
This is very different from the school I taught at in Massachusetts which starts before 7am and has seven 45 min classes (plus lunch).
It really all depends on your district. It seems many commenters here believe that all schools work the same way their school works, but they are actually remarkably different across the country.
8h/weeks, 1h homework. Extra activities on 'spare time'. Extra homeworks for those who wishes to compete with elite/private schools on national exams while being substantially given less teachers, less rooms, less credits worse appreciation in a so called meritocratic egalitarian system.
This WAS SPARTA!
This how I was raised. And I wish that to no kids on earth.
EDIT: the idea you got it tough in life will makes you stronger and more likely to succeed is a plain big lie given by the one with a silver spoon in their mouth to divert the attention from their case. The first part is true : you get stronger. The success part is false. Success is mainly a game that is based on rigged randomness.
I used to get on the school bus at 7, start school at 8, go to 2:30 with around an hour for lunch/recess, then two hours of sports practice (or two hours of killing time, then two hours of practice, during basketball season, since we only had one gym), and get home either at 5 or at 7. That's a long day, and throwing an hour or more of homework on top leaves you with pretty much nothing left.
College, now those were the days. 2-3 hours of class, and maybe half the time 2-3 hours of work study.
They have a 180 day year spread over 42 weeks, so that's 30 days off during that time. If extended for a full 52 week year, that'd be close to 37 days of vacation.
Which schools are in session 8 hours/day? I'm ignoring optional extracurricular activities since those are at the discression of students/parents.
Why would I expect more of a child?
While traditionally school time in Germany ended at 1pm, there are now models, where the children stay at school after lunch and working on their "homework" in special sessions where some teacher is present for questions and interaction, not taking any of the homework home.
At the very least I'm not convinced that reading a few chapters of an age appropriate book or the odd creative project (draw something, etc.) or short writing assignment can be bad (or take more than an hour).
On the other hand, I'm sure writing all 25 of your vocabulary words 5 times each isn't particularly helpful. (This was the main homework assignment I remember getting as a 2nd grader. I hated it because it made my hand sore (possibly because I was always trying to do it as fast as possible) and was boring.)
A ton of homework is a smell that I've learned to look into in order to see if I need to meet with the teacher and possibly talk to the school administration.
But then I had other teachers who assigned homework which was likely motivated by a need to have things in the gradebook that weren't tests
As in many things, there is a balance somewhere. You need some level of rote homework to drive home basic concepts. Sorry--vocabulary, spelling, and times tables, for example, need spaced repetition and learning them sucks. But they suck whether you are 5 or 50.
However, I find this statement laughable: "Can it be true that the hours of lost playtime, power struggles and tears are all for naught?" If doing homework is a power struggle in elementary school, you're a poor parent and are raising an entitled brat.
Depends greatly on the reason. "I don't want to do homework because I'd rather play video games" isn't generally going to fly (though having some free time is not something to discount entirely). "I don't want to do homework because I'd rather be reading" seems a lot more more reasonable. "I don't want to do homework because I already know all of this material and I'd learn nothing of value by doing it" is often completely reasonable, and a sign that either there's far too much homework or the class is far below the student's level.
And, to put it bluntly, quite a lot of K-12 school is a power struggle, and an object lesson in how power can be abused when one side has no recourse. Learning that meta-lesson, recognizing it as a problem, and finding ways to solve it is a critical life skill. Long after K-12 school ends, adults regularly encounter systems that are partly or completely broken. Sometimes the correct solution is "screw this system", and other times the preferable solution is "right or not, do I really want to pay the cost of fighting this battle in this case, or should I choose to lose and deal with it despite being right?". But 13 years of the former always being the only option on the table will not help people learn and maintain that skill, which will not help people learn to find, fix, or build new systems that suck less, whether in education or other areas of life.
Also, at least today, that isn't the extent of most homework.
Until a couple of years ago, the British government recommendation for children aged 5-7 was 1 hour a week, which includes simply reading. There's now no official guidance, schools decide themselves, but I don't think it's changed.
If it's forced reading then you're likely to sap intrinsic motivation from many of the students. I would imagine that the studies you're referencing don't disambiguate whether the child chooses to read the book or is assigned it. But this is speculation since you didn't actually cite anything.
Source? I don't know your study, but most these reading studies just end up measuring socioeconomic status. Rich people make their kids read more, and rich people's kids are more successful, therefore reading as a kid correlates with success.
But I don't see any reason to believe those kids would be any better off if they didn't read. It's not like reading increases your IQ or gives you knowledge you couldn't learn much more efficiently elsewhere. At best reading increases your skill at... reading. Which is valuable, and I will mention that next. But it isn't magic like many people believe it is.
>As in many things, there is a balance somewhere. You need some level of rote homework to drive home basic concepts. Sorry--vocabulary, spelling, and times tables, for example, need spaced repetition and learning them sucks. But they suck whether you are 5 or 50.
And yet people who grew up without homework in elementary school seem to be able to do these things fine. Why can't they be learned in the 6 hours of school they are already attending? Why do they need even more hours of studying to learn these basic things?
I also object to the idea that learning needs to be tedious and boring, but that is just my opinion. Still, you learn vocab best through just absorbing language naturally as all children do. Not being forced to memorize vocab words. Spelling likewise comes naturally after you learn to read. Times tables are basically unnecessary in the age of calculators, and just teach children to grow up hating math.
>However, I find this statement laughable: "Can it be true that the hours of lost playtime, power struggles and tears are all for naught?" If doing homework is a power struggle in elementary school, you're a poor parent and are raising an entitled brat.
You have no idea. I was that kid. I fought so hard in the fourth grade against excessive homework. I had very bad ADHD. I just couldn't focus. Forcing myself to do hours of homework, at that age, was torture. I had to be prescribed large doses of stimulants, as a child, to keep up.
Yeah kids are so entitled these days. They'll have all the time in the world to have their childhood, when they get to 65.
"Before going further, let’s dispel the myth that these research results are due to a handful of poorly constructed studies. In fact, it’s the opposite. Cooper compiled 120 studies in 1989 and another 60 studies in 2006."
However, the 2006 meta-analysis explicitly says that all 60 studies had design flaws. To quote the conclusion:
"We hope that this report has demonstrated the value of research synthesis for testing the plausibility of causal relationships even when less-than-optimal research designs and analyses are available in the literature."
There were annual mathematics competitions which placed your ranking compared to other students in Australia, and - at the time I did that homework - I was in the top 1%.
Fast forward a few years where we stopped doing maths exercises and just started relying on what the primary and then subsequent secondary school taught. My grades dropped, going from top 1% to 10% nationally and then lower still. The reason was that I wasn't exposed to enough content from the school itself.
Simply put, it is fallacious to argue that less exposure to learning materials puts children in better stead.
As far as the idea of disillusionment of children with the world goes: this is more a function of teaching things in an interesting and real-world-applicable way. Entertainment is the name of the game here, not less work. Kids are inspired by what they find fun.
She should be out of doors riding her bike, exploring the woods, discovering weird new bugs in the dirt, interacting with friends, reading books, building stuff, play-acting, playing music, dancing, and generally being the amazingly creative kid that she is, that most of us should have been, had that creative spark not been quantified and tested and pigeonholed out of us by years of dreary deadlines and shouting matches and power struggles.
The poor kids. I hated homework, school in general actually, for most of my student life, and now I get to watch it crush the next generation. Very jealous of the families who home school.
I'm just interested in ideas about this: I've been seeing schoolwork darken the life of my niece; her parents are trying to help, and all I can do is mention my opinion to my brother once or twice. I also think homeschooling would be better.
School is all-in or all-out. You either play by their rules, or go somewhere else. I think for grade 6+, we're going to look around a bit but the reality is, we're like most other families, too busy and stressed and not enough funds to really do the right thing which would be home school, or else alternative school.
But, maybe we will. She's worth it!
Yeah, I know there'd be a reaction from the school, but I wonder how much real trouble it'd bring. (Of course it's way easier for me to wonder than for you all to try it. I hope I'm not annoying you here.)
When I was a kid I skipped a lot of homework -- for some classes in high school, basically all of it -- which got me in some trouble with my parents and got me kicked out of the honors English tracks twice (in middle school and then in high school), but FWIW I still got into a good college via test scores and (surprisingly) teacher recommendations. Unfortunately I can't claim this would generalize -- these were California schools in relatively affluent neighborhoods, and decades ago, and I'm not your daughter... and I'll shut up now. But I hope this might've been vaguely helpful to hear.
Why are we so crazy about cramming so much info into the minds of children? Short of reading, writing, and math what does a kid need to know that can't be taught (probably faster) starting a bit later in life?
Shouldn't kids be playing with sticks and frogs and getting fresh air and sunshine? Not having the creativity squeezed out of them in buildings that resemble my office on the inside?
So it looks like the homework in public schools is a stopgap for lousy teachers.
I was skeptical moving into the district, but I'm actually kind of surprised at how little of a difference it makes. Same grades, same progress, less stressed kids.
It all makes a lot of sense to me, but I have one thought. In many activities I find I need an initial period of tedious repetition before the fun part kicks in. Things like playing an instrument, learning a language, and some parts of mathematics. And nothing saps motivation at school more than being behind the class from the start and completely lost.
So is there a role to play for homework in pushing through the hard part at the beginning?
is there a role to play for homework
in pushing through the hard part
A N Whitehead has said it better than I can, so let's quote him: "Many think we should cultivate the habit of thinking of what we are doing. The precise opposite is the case. Civilization advances by extending the number of important operations which we can perform without thinking about them."
Homework helps with repetition even for extrinsically motivated students, which leads to the ability to perform without thinking, which is the basis of mastery and enjoyment.
I can agree with this for math homework or word puzzles etc but much of what he gets is not useful.
To cap it all off, often I find they have a day doing very little. How about they master maths during school time and not for parents to educate their kids after school!
Many countries with very high performing schools have a much shorter school day than we do, and I think asking kids to devote 10+ hours a day to school (including bus time and homework), is a bit ridiculous.
Einstein is quoted as "Never memorize what you can look up in a book."
It's not so much about memorising facts for recall (boring!) but training the mind for automatic action. Like offloading the grunt work to a subconscious co-processor and letting you focus on the bigger picture.
Why would entering "flow" be a criteria for something to be enjoyable?
But I think Einstein would be a fan of web searches for a lot of memorizable information, as am I.
Also, from my experience as a student my prior for that benefit is pretty low. I went to what turned out to be relatively good schools for the U.S., and I still think that before college they were mostly a waste of time that actively turned people off learning. What I mean by skeptical, above, is that hearing of these studies only shifts that opinion a little.
If all you do is absorb lessons without the underlying practice, the material will evaporate from your brain within a short time.
Imagine if you had only seen division or multiplication being done on the blackboard by the teacher, and never practiced it. Today, you'd at best have a faint, dim recollection of having seen such a thing, and you'd be powerless without a calculator when confronted with some matter involving two digit numbers.
We should also look at other things that impose a "high cost" on children: spending hours playing video games or noses constantly buried in mobile devices.
I agree that you learn by doing and that teaching can guide you to learn more efficiently and broadly, when it's done well. It can even benefit you when mediocre, though the vast majority of schoolwork didn't pay its freight.
In 2007 I got into keyboard; I learned a whole bunch of Bach pieces on the piano in just a matter of months. I was surpassing the people who did years of piano for many hours a day as little kids to get to the same stage!
I could rip through the two-part invention #13 in A minor, #8 in F, and others. I got an old-fashioned wind-up metronome and was dropping that weight lower and lower ...
Someone---LOL---asked me where I studied music. :)
Then I somehow dropped out of it, and stopped playing. Today, I can hardly remember anything. I can get through a few bars of that Minuet in G, and then draw a blank.
It was "fake" learning, in a sense. A flash in the pan epiphany that fizzled away.
But I can wake up in the middle of the night and manipulate polynomials, remember trig identities, do arithmetic like long division (and do it fast), multiply and divide numbers in my head, manipulate fractions, logarithms, you name it. It just stuck, from the years of steady practice.
I doubt much of the math you're talking about was drilled into you in elementary school and rarely used since. As a teenager and adult I'll do most of that sort of thing in my head (not long division, normally); I didn't bother as a younger kid, but it's kept coming up enough to be worthwhile, for me; I wouldn't expect so for most people in today's society, which is sort of a disappointing fact about society, but one that matters if you think of people as free agents.
My son is in year 1, and he doesn't have very much homework (neither does my daughter to be honest), but after getting him settled at a desk he just tends to do it very quickly then run off and plays.
I found that for my daughter, I was able to imbue a love of learning when she was in Kindy and year 1 by buying a whiteboard and getting her to do her work on it. Also, my clear excitement and my own love of learning (I was and still am studying mathematics) rubbed off.
In fact, I was going through Trigonometry again at one stage and she was interested why there were circles and triangles on the whiteboard, so I explained what an angle is and that trigonometry is the relationship between angles and sides. I would say she was the only year 1 in her school who knew what trigonometry was - I think her teacher was rather surprised when she used the word, and even more surprised when she was able to explain what it actually was! :-)