Sunday, May 27, 2007

Homework sucks: The case against homework

One thing the authors keep coming back to is the way that excessive homework eats into kids' playtime and family time, stressing them out, contributing to sedentary obesity, and depriving them of a childhood's measure of doing nothing, daydreaming and thinking. They quote ten-year-olds like Sophia from Brooklyn, saying things like "I have to rush, rush, rush, rush, rush, rush through my day, actually through my seven days, and that's seven days wasted in my life."

Rogue educator John Taylor Gatto has called homework "extended surveillance." In other words, it's yet another bid for control of children's attention, usually wielded by know-nothing teachers who have selected their profession because it's easier than the alternatives.

Of course, the goal is clear enough. As a nation of gutless consumers, we need to keep our numbers up, and the earlier the indoctrination the better. Someone has to stand in line at Starbucks so they can unquestioningly fork over $5 for high-calorie synthetic milkshakes.

The American Dream doesn't run itself; it needs to be vigilantly enforced every step of the way -- and we're perfectly willing to risk the health of the planet in doing so.


Anonymous said...

It's funny. At the Oklahoma elementary school I attended it was, at the time, evidently district (and possibly state) policy not to assign ANY homework. Until I read this article, I hadn't even thought about this, but it made me recollect this time. I hated school anyway, and I remember some kids griping about NOT having homework just because they wanted something to complain about. Even in Junior High (as Middle School was called then), there wasn't MUCH homework -- it didn't really get very heavy until high school.

I guess this DID give me the time to do a lot of creative stuff like the author of the article describes. For example, I got my Ham radio license while in Junior High (I can't help calling it that -- I guess that dates me!) and had quite a "rig" at the time, with a forty-foot transmitting antenna, the works. I also wrote some, read a TON of science fiction (my great discovery in 6th grade) and generally messed around to my unending delight.

So yeah, I'm kind of in agreement about less homework, at least for younger kids. Homework in kindergarten??? Be real!

Anonymous said...

So, uh, Mac...what do you pay for your Starbucks cup o' coffee?

Yeah, I know, sometimes you just have to get out and soak up the ambiance of some place other than your apartment, but..uh...have you thought about brewing your own and bringing it with you in a thermos, maybe strapped to a bicycle to ride for some exercise, fresh air, the view, and to some place even more stimulating than...Starbucks?

Think, feel, be...different.

Anonymous said...

The only thing I'm grateful to school for os learning how to read and write. I hated school when I was a kid and home work in general bored to tears so many times I'd soon lost count of it. Thanks for the article.

Regan Lee said...

I work in a school. Worked in education for over 20 years.

And I love Gatto. I agree with him on homework, and many other issues.

Sadly, we're in the minority.

Mac said...

Coffee Advocate--

Guilty as charged -- I indeed drink Starbucks coffee. And I indeed make my own -- I've got so much of the stuff I could probably keep myself caffeinated through the better part of a nuclear winter.

R. Lee--

I went to elementary school in the 80s, and the homework trend was beginning to really kick in. And heaven help you if you were in a "gifted" program -- the regular teachers penalized you you an entire day of "make-up" work! :-(