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Old 09-08-2006, 04:42 PM   #31
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I'm a sophomore in high school and while I tend to get a ton of homework, I can't typically be bothered to do it because the majority of it is busywork. I have a job/friends/sports and it's just a waste of time to worry about it.

For instance, I know my math teacher only checks our homework for completion. I don't feel like doing dozens of problems, so I get what I can done in class, get to class 5 min early the next day, and bullshit the rest of the problems with fake "work." works like a charm, and I do fine on my tests.

I generally don't put much effort into homework (and save it til 3 am if I absolutely have to do it at home haha). Because teachers don't put much effort into the assignment and it's just a waste of time. I know what teachers want out of an essay for example- so I bullshit it and give them the essay they want and it only takes me 10 minutes to write in the morning. It may be a horrible essay but it gets me an A because I know my audience.

The only exception is my AP world history class- we have a ton of homework, not necessarily assigned, but just expected. I have to read the chapters and if I want notes on them I have to take them in my spare time. It's a ton of work but I don't mind it because I can do as much as I feel is worthwhile, and I'm not given pages of insulting busywork.


About preparing for college though...yeah we need some homework so it's not too much of a shock. But, in high school unlike college, in addition to homework we have to sit in that building for 8 HOURS a day. so I think the load could be a bit lighter than in college and we'd survive.
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Old 09-08-2006, 11:33 PM   #32
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Quote:
Originally posted by VertigoGal
For instance, I know my math teacher only checks our homework for completion. I don't feel like doing dozens of problems, so I get what I can done in class, get to class 5 min early the next day, and bullshit the rest of the problems with fake "work." works like a charm, and I do fine on my tests.

I generally don't put much effort into homework (and save it til 3 am if I absolutely have to do it at home haha). Because teachers don't put much effort into the assignment and it's just a waste of time. I know what teachers want out of an essay for example- so I bullshit it and give them the essay they want and it only takes me 10 minutes to write in the morning. It may be a horrible essay but it gets me an A because I know my audience.
This is familiar to me. Homework becomes just an exercise in figuring out exactly what you can get away with while managing the grade you want--someone in the grade above me put it like this--"I pick what grade I want for a class, then figure out what I need to do for that grade, and do it."

I think that's what homework taught me--how to figure out exactly what your teachers want from you and how to give them that. At least I learned more about that than the subject matter in most cases.
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Old 09-08-2006, 11:46 PM   #33
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Old 09-09-2006, 12:47 AM   #34
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I'm still in high-school and I've basically had two types of homework

1. you learn the material in class, go over everything that you need to know then just practice at home (math, science and spanish)

2. you learn everything through homework and discuss what you learned in class (english, social studies)

from my experiences its not the amount of time of homework that makes me mad, its when you have no idea what your trying to do, and still being forced to do it.

I don't mind my type 1 homework because its generally not as hard because I learned how to do it in school and its easy

the type two homework is what I really can't stand. I have to pay more attention to it because I might be quizzed on it, and I actually have to teach myself the material out of the book, because the teachers assume that you get the main ideas on your own. Its hours and hours of that type of homework that I think is negative for kids, while the type 1 is necessary and not as painful
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Old 09-09-2006, 07:40 PM   #35
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Quote:
Originally posted by VertigoGal
I'm a sophomore in high school and while I tend to get a ton of homework, I can't typically be bothered to do it because the majority of it is busywork. I have a job/friends/sports and it's just a waste of time to worry about it.

I generally don't put much effort into homework (and save it til 3 am if I absolutely have to do it at home haha). Because teachers don't put much effort into the assignment and it's just a waste of time. I know what teachers want out of an essay for example- so I bullshit it and give them the essay they want and it only takes me 10 minutes to write in the morning. It may be a horrible essay but it gets me an A because I know my audience.

The only exception is my AP world history class- we have a ton of homework, not necessarily assigned, but just expected. I have to read the chapters and if I want notes on them I have to take them in my spare time. It's a ton of work but I don't mind it because I can do as much as I feel is worthwhile, and I'm not given pages of insulting busywork.

About preparing for college though...yeah we need some homework so it's not too much of a shock. But, in high school unlike college, in addition to homework we have to sit in that building for 8 HOURS a day. so I think the load could be a bit lighter than in college and we'd survive.
I think actually this is just about the best argument possible against "busywork," because figuring out how to manipulate the system isn't the main skill you should be developing, and I wonder how many of your teachers might reconsider their approach to homework if they realized that even students of your caliber are having this response. I was fortunate to attend high schools where, to the best of my recollection, only one class I took had much of this "busywork"-type homework, and I looked on it then and still look on it now as a sign that that class was in general poorly planned and taught. (I had a couple classes like this in college, as well--large major-requirement classes with inexperienced, overworked TAs who basically gave you an A simply for submitting a prettily worded essay conforming to the expected Intro--Thesis--Point 1--Point 2--Point 3--Conclusion archetype.) It wasn't that I didn't have lots of homework; I did, but most of my assignments were either of an absolutely-essential-for-keeping-up-with-tomorrow's-lesson type, or else more protracted ones (research papers, etc.) where it would definitely show if you'd tossed it off at the last minute no matter how good your composition skills were (admittedly, mine weren't that great). I'm a tough grader myself, and my students don't get As unless they've exceeded the assignment requirements by a wide margin, and in a way that demonstrates considerable original thought and exceptional effort. If they submit a very well-crafted, well-worded paper with a solid thesis showing they've read and understood all the materials as well as the assigned question, they get a B. Which is a good grade and nothing to be ashamed of.

I do think the fact that so many students nowadays are juggling multiple demanding extracurricular activities, as well as jobs, needs to be factored into the homework equation also; this is a much more pervasive problem than it was 20 years ago. My first two years of high school, I did cross-country in fall and track in spring, but I didn't have a job and neither did most other athletes, and if they did it was maybe 10 hours a week. My last two years, I didn't have time for sports, because my "job" four afternoons and evenings a week was picking up my siblings from grade school, taking them to the park to play for awhile, fixing them dinner then helping them with their homework while my mother taught. While this definitely put a crimp in my social life, I was able to simultaneously get some of my own homework done, since most of this happened at home. But so many high school students today, especially college-bound ones, are involved in sports plus newspaper or yearbook plus working 20 hours a week, and that only leaves so much time and energy available for serious focus on homework. That makes it all the more important that whatever homework there is, not be so excessive in quantity so as to make reasonable time left over for socializing and sleeping infeasible, nor so rote and unstimulating in quality so as to invite a cynical triage approach to completing it.

It is true that college is usually less demanding of one's time in an immediate sense (i.e., you don't have to be in class 8 hours a day). The relevance of prior homework experience to college, I think, lies *mostly* in time management and study skills: ability to guesstimate accurately how long getting the work done will take you; being realistic about what sort of environment you need to really buckle down--some do just fine in the dorm or student union with commotion all around, others need to find a quiet nook in the library; understanding how to use the syllabus (I wish more high school teachers would have one) to strategically anticipate and prioritize. But a healthy and productive attitude about what being a student is all about is also important, particularly when it comes to hardass profs like me who expect you to really exert yourself, and this is why it concerns me to see good students, whether through exhaustion or jadedness or whatever, making a habit of the Oh-well-this'll-do approach. Furthermore, I find that most of my ambitious students who wind up struggling with burnout are suffering not so much from unmanageable demands on their time, as from looking around at other ambitious students who apparently feel much more enthusiastic about and rewarded by their classes than they do, and miserably wondering, "Why don't I feel like that? When did there start being nothing more to it all than a neverending daily grind to make the grade?" I don't think it usually occurs to high school students to feel this way, because the reality of your responsibility to make your own future seems so far off at that stage, and it's easier to rationalize away the jadedness as simply what's needed to manage the curveballs the system keeps throwing you, which you really have no choice about. But there comes a time when you'll have far more of a say in what gets thrown at you and when, and that usually starts with college, and that can really be paralyzing if you're still locked into the know-your-enemy approach psychologically. I realize this is a worst-case-scenario I'm advancing, and I hope I'm not sounding melodramatic nor failing miserably to make sense explaining it--I've seen it happen plenty of times, but it's hard to put the process into words.

As far as homework quantity and type for earlier grades, I think really the same principle applies, only with more time needed for socializing and recreation outside of school. I agree with ShellBeThere (always helpful to have a psychologist around in this forum, lol) about report projects being probably the best form of longterm skill-building through homework at this stage...with the caveat that the needed time management and study skills seldom if ever emerge sui generis as a consequence of aging; they have to be helped along, and preferably by parents, since they know their child's strengths and weaknesses best (though the aid of a dedicated and patient school librarian--if there is one--who's kept well-informed by the teachers can also go a long way). Teaching our calm and alert oldest son to read was relatively speaking a breeze; teaching his equally smart but hyperactive younger brother was much harder, and I expect he'll probably need more "constructive encouragement" well into his school years than his brother, who at age 8 contentedly sits down and barrels through whatever takehome drills he has with no problem. My own older brother was hyperactive too, and his work habits were erratic and disorganized well into high school, at which point he got heavily involved in sports and, perhaps paradoxically, became much better able to manage his time and economize his energy. I do think *some* of the drill-type homework we had growing up was detrimental to him, to the extent that it hurt his self-confidence to not find completing it as easy as his siblings did, and neither he nor my parents could realistically change that at that stage. So perhaps it's true to say that less homework would have improved, or at least avoided further hurting, his performance overall, and that would've been a good thing. But on the other hand, his problems certainly weren't his teachers' fault either, and he's said himself that all those years of plugging miserably away at papers and problems to often-disappointing effect nonetheless helped prepare him to grasp what was called for when things finally came together and he was ready to take effective control. Inadequate downtime was never his problem really. Still, going back to my "triage approach" point, I do think that's a bad thing to let happen at any age, and the earlier homework burdens start nudging kids towards it, the more unacceptable it is.
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Old 09-10-2006, 11:09 AM   #36
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From another student's perspective (and I want to do this without reading other people's arguments so I may repeat things):

I can have anywhere from an hour (on the best days) to seven hours of homework a night. Typically I have about four hours of homework. And a majority of it is complete and total bullshit. I'll tell you why:

For every math teacher I have had in the past five years, they have us attempt to learn new concepts through homework. The worst one gave you the assignment, and expected you to learn it through homework. The next day, you'd come in and in a short class period, all questions about it had to be answered. Naturally, as the year progressed, the assignments got tougher, and the material more complex, and the classtime couldn't fit in all of our questions. Thus, I began failing tests. I turned to my father regularly to ask for assistance, for he studied a lot of mathematics in college. Only because of him did I make it through the year with a decent grade.

But in many situations, the teachers and administrators tell parents not to help with homework. My brother had a teacher who literally copied notes out of the book and onto the board. Any bum on the street can do that. She didn't teach, she gave them a book and told it to them again. She also had trouble with the ability to grade, which led my parents to ask for a meeting. During the meeting it was asked why his grades had gone up in the second quarter, and my dad said he had been helping with the work since the teacher hadn't been working, and the assistant principal became appaled and scolded the parents for helping with the work.

Other situations aren't much better. My science class this year has entirely been doing some work in class, then re-doing it to make it look neat at home. This is the worst homework you can possibly have, the ultimate in busy work. It's pages of notes and formulas, that needs to be entirely redone again. I'm not learning the material any better by writing each thing down one more time.

There are classes that do well. My English teachers for the past two years have been outstanding. Homework was limited to essays and reading, because the class discussions were so thorough we did not need more reinforcement. That's how a class should be run: get the work done then.
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Old 09-10-2006, 12:22 PM   #37
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Quote:
Originally posted by amerrydeath


This is familiar to me. Homework becomes just an exercise in figuring out exactly what you can get away with while managing the grade you want--someone in the grade above me put it like this--"I pick what grade I want for a class, then figure out what I need to do for that grade, and do it."

I come right out and tell my classes this. There's not much to figure out with me. lol.

diversified instruction

I do want to take a moment to address the concept of "busy work."

In a perfect world I would have a homogeneous class room, all students reading/ performing at the same level. The reality is, aside from AP classes, this will never happen. I have a fair amount of students who can not read our textbook because they are reading at a 6th grade level and the book is written at a 10th/11th grade level. What some student may consider "busy work" may be challenging and useful for other students. While I do my best to diversify my curriculum I also have to be careful not to make it obvious who is a slower learner. (Ala the grade school type reading groups "bluebirds" and "redbirds") As I'm sure many teachers here can attest to, it is a struggle to help all students master skills and material but also to keep them all engaged. Large classes, no instructional assistance and heterogeneous classrooms sometimes require what some might call "busy work" and I resent that anyone would insinuate that my classes are either poorly planned or poorly taught.
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Old 09-10-2006, 05:40 PM   #38
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Large classes, no instructional assistance and heterogeneous classrooms
You mean like mine? 35 students in two grades?
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Old 09-10-2006, 05:47 PM   #39
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Originally posted by WildHoneyAlways


I come right out and tell my classes this. There's not much to figure out with me. lol.

diversified instruction

I do want to take a moment to address the concept of "busy work."

In a perfect world I would have a homogeneous class room, all students reading/ performing at the same level. The reality is, aside from AP classes, this will never happen. I have a fair amount of students who can not read our textbook because they are reading at a 6th grade level and the book is written at a 10th/11th grade level. What some student may consider "busy work" may be challenging and useful for other students. While I do my best to diversify my curriculum I also have to be careful not to make it obvious who is a slower learner. (Ala the grade school type reading groups "bluebirds" and "redbirds") As I'm sure many teachers here can attest to, it is a struggle to help all students master skills and material but also to keep them all engaged. Large classes, no instructional assistance and heterogeneous classrooms sometimes require what some might call "busy work" and I resent that anyone would insinuate that my classes are either poorly planned or poorly taught.
At what level do you teach? It sounds like either elementary or middle school, for in high schools generally there is much leveling done to ensure students are learning at the correct pace/understanding, etc. I can understand the difficulties for middle school and elementary school, but in high school it wouldn't make sense.
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Old 09-10-2006, 06:24 PM   #40
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I teach high school.
My district was ordered by the state to place more special education students in regular ed classes.

Many high schools are moving away from tracking. All students take the same state test no matter what track they are in. They need to be exposed to the material just like everyone else.
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Old 09-10-2006, 07:40 PM   #41
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You mean like mine? 35 students in two grades?
I don't know how you do it.
I feel lucky that our union was able to negotiate class caps.
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Old 09-10-2006, 07:52 PM   #42
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Originally posted by WildHoneyAlways
Many high schools are moving away from tracking.
I'm glad I'm done with high school, if that's the case! I always detested my classes that weren't leveled, and that was a big part of the reason I hated school until I got to high school and they started separating us. It sounds elitist, and maybe it is, but classes became much more enjoyable and challenging, to the point of even looking forward to them.
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Old 09-10-2006, 09:58 PM   #43
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Quote:
Originally posted by WildHoneyAlways
I teach high school.
My district was ordered by the state to place more special education students in regular ed classes.

Many high schools are moving away from tracking. All students take the same state test no matter what track they are in. They need to be exposed to the material just like everyone else.
I'm not saying different material, but with a different method, or a different pace.

It's truly a mystery as to where the country wants to go with education at this point.

I would probably become a teacher if it wasn't for unions.
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Old 09-10-2006, 10:56 PM   #44
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Quote:
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I'm not saying different material, but with a different method, or a different pace
Ah yes, "separate but equal."

Quote:
I would probably become a teacher if it wasn't for unions.

Really?
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Old 09-11-2006, 12:54 AM   #45
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It's truly a mystery as to where the country wants to go with education at this point.

I would probably become a teacher if it wasn't for unions.
ummm, it may work differently in the states, but in canada, it's the government that decides where education 'goes,' not the unions.
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