Homework? Isn’t That Like Bringing Work Home From The Office?

It’s summertime and the kids in school are excited that they have a few months of freedom from homework.

My kids don’t know what homework, in the traditional sense of the word, is.

What do the kids in school do for seven hours a day, that prevents them from getting all their work done?

Just as I don’t think consistently bringing work home from the office is healthy for an individual, nor a family; I don’t think bringing work home from school is healthy for an individual, nor a family.

Why is homework an acceptable practice? And what kind of patterns, habits and attitudes is it teaching our future adults?

10 comments for “Homework? Isn’t That Like Bringing Work Home From The Office?

  1. rocket
    June 19, 2010 at 12:50 pm

    Good to hear from you Bridgett! I think there's 2 schools of thought on this.

    Some people don't believe work should ever interfere with home life.

    Others feel that doing more is a fact of life (especially when you are first starting out) and should be instilled at an early age.

    We differ on this, I personally have never understood how people could make a decent living working only 40 hour work weeks.

    At my age (30 something) I am now established enough in my career that it's a choice whether or not I work after hours, which I usually do. I usually come in early as well.

    I think I can safely assume that I would not be at a point in my career where I could choose for myself if it were not for the foundation and seniority I've built the past 10 years by doing more both before and after hours.

    I know many people who have twice the time in my job as I do who don't get to make those choices nor the salary I do simply because they chose not to strive for excellence in the beginning. They also aren't able to have their wife as a stay at home mom as we do.

    To each their own. I ask my kid's teachers to ensure that if they have homework it's done. Having to work past 8 hours a day is a reality if someone wants to make it more than just a job. Not many CEO's or Corporate leaders who simply put in 8 hours & walk out the door.

    I see where you're coming from, there has to be balance. I've striven to have some control over my balance, and I wouldn't have that control with an 8 to 5 mentality.

    I hope my children begin their careers with the mindset of doing more than just putting in time, if you can dig that?

    I don't believe meaningful work days should be dictated by a clock.

  2. Bridgett
    June 20, 2010 at 2:08 pm

    My point is not about avoiding working, nor is it about not going the extra mile. My point is about teaching my kids to work intelligently and efficiently.

    Many school situations are inefficient and many work situations are inefficient.

    I too “don't believe meaningful work days should be dictated by a clock.”

    So don’t make me sit in a school for seven hours a day, or an office for twelve hours a day when I can get the work done in less than half the time.

  3. rocket
    June 20, 2010 at 8:21 pm

    Sounds like you would be a fantastic addition to a parent advisory group. I agree about efficiency, however, a HUGE part of going to school is the interaction with other adults and children, learning to play nice with others, and participating with classmates in extra curricular activities.

    Part of being a kid is having the opportunity to be silly with others, not making sure you get your colouring done as quickly and as efficiently as possible.

    You'd have a hard time finding a job where once you get 8 hours "worth of work" done you get to go home. Generally speaking, there will be more for you to do, hence the existence of non self starting employees, there's no reason to work as hard as possible to get the work done because you're there for X number of hours whether you go hard or not.

    Unfortunately, school days are set up to do the most amount of good to the most amount of kids. If your kids were having a tough time with a part of math, I'm sure you would want the teacher to take an extra minute to ensure that they understand the concept, rather than blasting through it because it's inefficient to ensure everyone understands.

    Just some thoughts, and with respect.

  4. Bridgett
    June 20, 2010 at 9:20 pm

    1) Your comments are similar to many who are under the illusion that school is about "socialization" and that somehow those who don't participate in traditional school are locked in their basement for eight hours a day, with no interaction outside their family, and are socially inept creatures who lack people skills.

    2) You are right when you say: "You'd have a hard time finding a job where once you get 8 hours 'worth of work' done you get to go home."
    I don't look/participate in that set-up and neither does my husband. So…it doesn't logically makes sense for us to teach our kids to participate in a "system" that doesn't fit our way of thinking nor our way of living.

    3) The educational system is broken. We as a society, all around the world, serve schooling up the same way we serve up the industrialized food which is slowly killing us and the planet.
    This standardization, this cookie-cutter method is efficient for the deliverer, but *not* for the recipient (the child). It is slowly killing their spirit, their passion, our future.

    4) Here is Sir Ken Robinson, an educator, who has far more credibility than I do on the subject of education. Perhaps he can better explain where I'm coming from and why this is a HUGE issue that goes way beyond Bridgett and her little family…

  5. rocket
    June 21, 2010 at 12:11 pm

    I don't believe school is about socialization, and I'm sorry you get that impression. School is about learning, and the socializing is simply a bi-product of it. Much like work, socialization and your ability to do so does affect many parts of your life as a student, entrepreneur, or part of the work force.

    As far as socialization being an illusionary part of school, I personally reject that. I think learning relationships can be taught at home to a point, and if you live at home for the rest of your life, then you likely won't come across any stumbling blocks.

    I wasn't under the impression that you didn't plan for your kids to have a job, so I apologize for not assuming that's what would happen for them in the future.

    Look, I'm really not trying to sound like I'm arguing with you, but have you considered that one of your kids might like to be a fireman? Doctor? Accountant? I know I don't live the way my parents do, even though how they live is similar to how you describe your life. Quite frankly, I envy that lifestyle at times.

    My parents don't believe in nor live in the work a day world either, but all of their offspring do. In my opinion only, my siblings and I wouldn't have learned everything we need to learn socially from just my parents, relatives, and their friends.

    I can't comment on US schools, but I think there can always be improvement in anything. I for one am satisfied with the education my 15 year old is getting, and she is simply brilliant at math, drama, and Language Arts. She intends on someday being an author, and I feel she has a solid foundation to build on, and there will be no surprises when it comes to learning how to cope with University or College.

    Unfortunately, for her to get into any career she wants, the school and post secondary systems need to be used. If she wants to be an entrepreneur, that option is still open to her. I don't think her education will be wasted any more than I think a home schooled person's education is wasted. Going to a school or university simply opens up more doors for my kid.

    I'm not saying it's right and home schooling is wrong, that's just kinda how it is.

    I never got a chance yet to check out your link, but I will when I can.

    You obviously have put a lot of thought into this and again, I don't think you're wrong. I really don't.

    To be honest, i've never really had a discussion with anyone about this topic.

    It's very interesting, I think.

  6. Matt
    June 21, 2010 at 9:36 pm

    Such a brief post elicting such lengthy discussion…fascinating.

  7. Bridgett
    June 22, 2010 at 12:29 am

    I am not advocating that my way is the right way, or the better way or the only way.

    We've chosen to homeschool for a variety of reasons. If we could find a school that has what we are looking for, the kind of school, with the type of schooling which Ken Robinson mentions in the video, without costing an arm and a leg, we’d do it.
    I had a *very* eclectic education—
    *suburban public school
    *city public school
    *pre-International Baccalaureate program
    *Performing arts high school
    *Big Ten university, but small. And a liberal arts program, but as a theatre major.

    I know from experience that there isn't a one-size-fits-all, and I guess that's my point.
    And as Ken talks on the video, we do school like the industrial/linear age, the way life used to be; rather than an agrarian/organic age, the way life is, and is becoming.

    I think about my husband’s dad who worked for one employer for 41 years. That just doesn’t happen anymore. I look at my husband, who not only changed employers a handful of times, but then went freelance and worked for many news outlets; and then completely reinvented himself and is now a Public Relations and Media Services professional.

    I want my kids to learn the skills and the mindset necessary to change and adapt, and be comfortable doing so. And this goes far beyond the way they will generate income in their lives.

    I want my kids to be Haw, not Hem in “Who Moved My Cheese.”

    And I just don’t see that being possible in the current traditional school setup, including most colleges and universities in the States.

  8. rocket
    June 28, 2010 at 5:57 pm

    I watched the video link you provided (finally).

    I do agree with a number of things he says, and the way he worded his thoughts was very clever.

    That being said, I really don't know what a viable alternative is.

    Are schools focussed on the wrong things at times? – Yep.

    Are allowances made for kids with different abilities? – Sure, to an extent. Enough? – No.

    Do different people have different abilities and learning methods? – Absosmurfly.

    Is that reflective of life in general? In my experience, yes.

    Will my less than year old son need post secondary education to become a Dr./Lawyer/Accountant/Biologist/etc.etc.etc.? – I think so

    Will children who want to become certain types of professionals need to experience regular school so they are prepared for post secondary education? – I think so.

    The video didn't really cause any lightbulbs to go off in my head, as I'm well aware that there are deficiencies in the current educational system we have. But what's the solution? The people with the answers are the ones running the show, and to create a systemic change would take at least a couple of generations. On top of that, there needs to be a wide spread desire to change, not just a few people disenfranchised with the system.

    I think there are lazy teachers who simply put in time until Christmas/Summer holidays, and that's too bad. I've encountered these teachers, and I have held their feet to the fire when I didn't think they were taking my child's education seriously enough. I don't really need to hear that my kid hasn't been doing her homework for the past three months. I need to hear when my kid doesn't do her homework recently. As a parent, it's my job to provide support to what the teacher is doing, and ensure my kid has all the tools and the environment to make the honour role. (Which she does)

    Some of the stuff teachers do makes me shake my head at times.

    Having said that, what's better? Me trying to teach my kids when I have no previous experience doing it? I'm not prepared to gamble with my kid's future because I thought I was smarter than an entire system dedicated to higher learning.

    I may not like the game, but unfortunately, it's about the only thing that assures me that it's getting done at least at the level my children have to perform at to succeed in the future.

    Quite frankly, I don't have the confidence in myself to provide my children's educational needs so that they will have all the tools necessary to do whatever they choose to do when the time for that decision comes. I would certainly feel guilty if I mistakenly missed a vital step and closed doors for them because of my hubris/thought processes a decade prior.

    Again, not disagreeing with you. You can even take it as a compliment that you have more courage than I do when it comes to the future of our respective children.

    By the way, I don't believe the "Firefighter saving his teacher's life", story. Sounds like something on Snopes.com

  9. Bridgett
    June 28, 2010 at 6:10 pm

    In one paragraph you mention "hubris" and in another, "courage."
    Considering the fears I face on a daily basis, I believe I fit more in to the courage category.

    Hubris is defined as: Overbearing pride or presumption.

    Courage is defined as: The state or quality of mind or spirit that enables one to face danger, fear, or vicissitudes with self-possession, confidence, and resolution.

  10. rocket
    June 28, 2010 at 9:57 pm

    I mentioned hubris when referring to myself, courage when referring to you & Matt.

    Sorry if you thought I was insulting you.

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