Memorization, not rationalization. That is the advice of my 13-year-old daughter, Esmee, as I struggle to make sense of a paragraph of notes for an upcoming Earth Science test on minerals. “Minerals have crystal systems which are defined by the # of axis and the length of the axis that intersect the crystal faces.” That’s how the notes start, and they only get murkier after that. When I ask Esmee what this actually means, she gives me her homework credo.
Also, discussing the homework load with other parents of children in the same class via email is cyberbullying, according to the school authorities. So much for concerned parental involvement being welcomed.
Her father was frustrated by his daughter having to take 3 or 4 hours a night on homework after a full day at school, so he decided to do her homework for a week to see just how vital it all was.
Previously, he had already noted something that annoyed me no end when I was in school and actually doing my homework:
I’ve often suspected that teachers don’t have any idea about the cumulative amount of homework the kids are assigned when they are taking five academic classes. There is little to no coordination among teachers in most schools when it comes to assignments and test dates.
He also says this:
It turns out that there is no correlation between homework and achievement. According to a 2005 study by the Penn State professors Gerald K. LeTendre and David P. Baker, some of the countries that score higher than the U.S. on testing in the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study—Japan and Denmark, for example—give less homework, while some of those scoring lower, including Thailand and Greece, assign more. Why pile on the homework if it doesn’t make even a testable difference, and in fact may be harmful?
I’m not sure about the comparison, however. Japanese schools may not do much homework, but the kids are also in school longer each day, and most of them have study schools or cram schools after their regular school is over. He’s complaining that she’s up too late doing homework, while all over Asia, middle school and high school Asian kids might not even get home from school until 11 p.m.