Last night, we had the PTA meeting so we didn't get home until after 8 pm, and while they'd both done some homework at the Club, they had more to do. Riley had 5 pages (!) of Math homework. She was on the last page at 10 pm, and was starting to nod off, so I sent her to bed.
In the meantime, Sylvia was in the middle of the most insipid homework assignment I've ever seen. For each of her 25 vocabulary words, she had to do what I think they call step-ladders. Here's an example of what she had to write.
It took her nearly two hours (or, as she put it, the entire cast recording of In the Heights). And the last thing she wanted to do were the two extra-credit "bonus" words. I just wanted her to go to bed already. Neither of them were excited to get up and go back to school this morning.
This happened to take place on the same day that I received GreatSchools.net's email on homework. I should not have been stunned (but I was) to learn that the 10-minute per grade rule comes from absolutely nowhere.
“The source [of that figure] was a teacher who walked up to me after a workshop I did about 25 years ago,” says [Harris] Cooper. “I’d put up a chart showing middle school kids who reported doing an hour to an hour and a half were doing just as well as high schoolers doing two hours a night. The teacher said, ‘That sounds like the 10-minute rule.’" He adds with a laugh, "I stole the idea.”
He adds with a laugh?!? Well, thank you so much for taking this topic seriously, Mr. Cooper. It must puff your self-importance up sufficiently to read all the painstaking efforts that teachers and parents have been agonizing over to ensure that our students live up to your little joke.
I'm getting ready to throw in the towel, people. Clearly, nobody knows anything on how to educate our children in a manner that will best suit their needs, or our country's needs. Teachers' unions just want to protect their unions. Politicians only care about test scores. Parents are supposed to care just enough to make their teacher's copies, and sit back quietly, thank you. And students? Well, your life's destiny was pre-determined back in pre-school. You either went to the right school or you didn't. Welcome to the ranks of community college, then transfer to your state's university, then get an average job, and spend the next 15 years paying off your student loans. Oh, and it doesn't matter what you study or what you think you know. You'll do the position the way that you're trained to do the position because everything is on-the-job training and all the academics was just to make sure your resume didn't get thrown away.
I'm really starting to wonder why I care so much. Even if I do want them to think critically and for themselves, what will it get them in life? After all, it is their lives, not mine.
The night before last, I'd been helping Sylvia with her Algebra homework. I was doing fine keeping her on track until it came to some stupid word problem that she was to convert into an algebraic equation. I had no clue how to do it. She had to fly solo. So of course, I felt inadequate at that point. At the same time, I struggled through math throughout my academic career, and managed to find work that doesn't require me to do math.
Math has been Riley's strong suit, but this year, she's doubting herself more. It's harder, and she feels like all the other students in her class are better at it than she is. I did the whole, "all you have to do is your best, it doesn't matter how anyone else is doing." Didn't really help her feel any better, though.
What's the point of all this homework, all this time and energy we're all spending on it, if it just leaves us feeling inadequate, irritated and tired? Do I really care if either of them don't go onto a career in science or medicine? And why should I care when it's going to be up to them in the end?
The PTA meeting was great. But by the time I went to bed at midnight, I just wanted it to be the weekend again and the last thing I want to ask the girls about today is their homework!