But This Will Be Excellent Training For Science

From a post about excessive amounts of homework (boldface mine):

Every parent I know in New York City comments on how much homework their children have. These lamentations are a ritual whenever we are gathered around kitchen islands talking about our kids’ schools.

Is it too much?

Well, imagine if after putting in a full day at the office—and school is pretty much what our children do for a job—you had to come home and do another four or so hours of office work. Monday through Friday. Plus Esmee gets homework every weekend. If your job required that kind of work after work, how long would you last?


(Personally, I went to a school with lots of homework. I became really good at doing it on the bus. I’m not sure how much I learned by doing that however).

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8 Responses to But This Will Be Excellent Training For Science

  1. Ken Bennett says:

    That’s what my wife did for more than twenty years as a classroom teacher. Heck, I still put in a couple of hours of work at home several nights a week. And how many folks leave their one job and head to their second job at night?

    Not saying this has anything to do with “too much homework,” but it’s a crappy analogy unless one has a certain kind of well-paying job that can be left at the office. I would wager that most people don’t.

  2. Amber says:

    Hasn’t this very thing been a (valid) complaint lately re: work coming home with people/the speed up? That we’re expected to be at work longer hours or whatever, but also take work home with us, AND be constantly accessible, via email and cell?

    Besides, aren’t they always complaining that Kids These Days don’t know how to manage their time/don’t know the meaning of work/have it too easy/don’t have to walk to school in the snow, uphill both ways?

  3. Min says:

    IMO, as things are usually set up, homework is the most valuable part of school. It is where you actually do something. The analogy between school and work is not so good, because students don’t really work much in school. They spend a lot of time sitting around being bored. The main lessons they learn are to be on time, to be quiet, and to be obedient.

  4. TheBrummell says:

    When I was a child I frequently encountered estimates, such as these, of how many hours per day or per week I should expect to spend on homework. Every such estimate was a wild overestimate. Four hours per day? Really? How about 20 minutes, but it *feels* like 4 hours to a 10-year-old. Please inject your annectdote about that one Science Fair project that took 18 hours here, representative surely of a typical week in the fourth grade.
    This consistent disconnect between numbers used in such discussions and my totally subjective, utterly personal experience means I tend to write these complaints off as “slow news day”. It’s a tiny fraction of the parents who are complaining, as I suspect the majority of parents at a state or national level don’t pay any attention at all to their child’s homework load, or whether it is being completed. Surely there are other, more pressing issues to raise the alarm about regarding primary education?

  5. Lora says:

    I went to boarding school for high school, and we were required to do a one-hour afternoon study hall plus two hours after dinner every day. It was proctored by faculty and you could be at your desk working quietly or you could be in the library. We also went to school 8am – 5pm, although classes were broken up into sets of two, divided by breaks for chapel, meals, snacks, club activities. Last class of the day was gym, every day. If you couldn’t get it all done in that time, there was a 7am – 11am Saturday study session and tutoring available. If you got it done early, you could write a letter to your parents and friends back home or ask for an extra credit assignment or the proctor would give you a book to read.

    Miraculously, we all survived and 98% of us got into pretty good colleges. I do think that kids, especially teenagers, need structure and routine.

  6. Min says:

    To me the most disquieting thing about the article is illustrated here:

    “But when I ask her what the verb tener means (“to have,” if I recall), she repeats, “Memorization, not rationalization.”

    “She doesn’t know what the words mean.”

    To be sure, a certain amount of memorization is necessary, but this refrain, “Memorization, not rationalization,” with which the author starts the piece, indicates the poverty of his child’s education. Especially in an age when information is just a click away, students should be learning how to utilize and integrate information, even in middle school.

  7. joemac53 says:

    I assigned homework for 35 years. I expected to have questions generated for discussion at the beginning of the next class. I never expected that they would all be rote algorithms. I tried to mix in a few interesting problems with some routine types (not too many!). I never expected everyone to get them all correct. Once the kids figured out what I wanted them to do I never had a dull moment.

  8. alwayscurious says:

    Agreed, it’s a slow news day. My first inclination is to condemn it as extrapolation from one example to all kids & schools everywhere absent any nation-wide data. My next inclination is to condemn is as a journalist whine-bragging: look at my daughter, she has so much work to meet such high expectations from her (advanced) classes. It’s a tragedy she’s so talented & taking demanding classes that she takes seriously.

    Honestly, I put off my homework until my parents were home & I was very good about delaying the tasks I didn’t want to do until the last possible minute. But they were smart enough not to be fooled most of the time by “My homework pile is THIS big”-act. Time at school doesn’t look like time on most jobs for many reasons, among them:

    An hour of recess everyday in addition to regular breaks & meals
    An hour of art class, music class or PE everyday
    Participants have no fiscal incentives for either their attendance or performance

    So an hour of homework per day, is only there to make up for some of the softer moments in the desk-learning schedule during the day.

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