Tuesday, 13 January 2009

Down With Homework!

This weekend, Sam made a whole bunch of signs and stuck them up: on the fridge, on the walls, on the computer, at Bunty's house, in the garden. They were all different, but they had one purpose: the abolition of homework. "HOMEWORK = SLAVERY!" "DOWN WITH HOMEWORK!" "HOMEWORK SUCKS!"

And when I logged in to MSN today, it appears that the universal subconscious is thinking along the same lines. Vote now! For the abolition of homework!

It appears that there is no evidence that doing four hours of homework a night will improve a child's grades. I had suspected as much. Surely, a child who spends his entire day sitting in a classroom and then the entire afternoon and night staring at his copybook, and going to bed late, will not be more intelligent or better adjusted than the child who is being read a story in bed at a reasonable hour after an afternoon of PLAY and HELPING OUT and CONVERSATION.

It has always surprised me that parents would make a child as young as two "Study" at "Schoolwork". They claim that the earlier a child can get a headstart at his education, the better off he will be later on. This is baffling. Are there any statistics out there? I haven't found any, and while it is possible to teach the average two-year-old (or the average dog, or the average monkey) to recognize words or symbols and "Read" nicely, isn't it a waste of their time? Those formative years when the human brain is developing and soaking in information faster than it ever will again... you want to spend it teaching your child to recognize symbols? Something that they can learn in one-tenth of the time later on?

I can understand that spelling words have to be learned, times tables revised, the work of the day looked at and discussed if the child does not "get" something. But forty long division sums? Twenty sentences to underline the nouns? Good grief. That is torture. Sam says it's child abuse, constitutionally illegal. He's right, I think. Educational Psychologists everywhere agree. We are incredibly lucky that in the competitive Trini system we have a school that doesn't try to kill the little ones with homework. (We love you, School!) Max usually doesn't get any at all, and I know that Chas and Sam have it easier than some.

Here's an interesting fact: When Max started primary school at nearly 5, he had never shown any interest in learning his letters. He was the least likely to succeed in that department, in a class of kids who had many of them been to extremely expensive preschools and could read, add, and count to whatever. While they were learning these skills, Max was playing in the dirt, making things out of clay and learning not to mess with fierce mama hens.

In his third year of school now, I am told that Max is a fine reader. More importantly, he absolutely loves learning things at school. He gets wildly excited at Math, and enjoys reading. He is also terrified of mama hens. Maybe he would have been better off at pre-university after all!

8 comments:

witchypoo said...

Thank you, darling Nan, for another thought-provoking and heartily agreed with post.
Don't be embarrassed, this is going to be nominated for another Perfect Post award. Because more people need to learn your point of view.

Islandgirl said...

Down with homework..the shredder of family sanity and up with summer holidays, long weekends and trips to Mayaro and Brasso Seco with the scrabble board and bathing suits in tow!!
(Is it any wonder Sam and I share a birthday?? Does he need help making signs?? :-) )

Islandgirl said...

Just cast my vote...tell Sam his protest might change the world!

Theresa said...

Can I sign the petition????

planetnomad said...

The French system would disagree with you. You are lucky to be out of it--my 3 have so much weekend/holiday homework, and worst of all, next year Elliot will have school on Saturday mornings. I would homeschool but it would be so much worse.
The French, however, put their children in extra school and seem to feel they should never have any free time.

Green Girl in Wisconsin said...

Preaching to the choir here, Nan. I'm with you 100% on this one. It is a form of torture and it's getting worse, not better. I never remember having homework yet my sons have brought it home since 1st grade.

Nan said...

Witchypoo, being Perfect is fine by me! Everybody, if you click on "Vote Now" it should take you to a petition of sorts.

Katybeth said...

We send our son to a Waldorf School and one of the things that drew us to this type of private education was that play, conversation, helping out were considered as essential to childhood and education as reading, writing, math. Homework does not start before sixth grade, when the need for harder work is more appropriate to meeting the child's needs but never more than an hour or so. The work of childhood is so much more than academics and that point is often missed by both educators and parents.