Maybe it’s just me, but I find the piece excerpted below (in HuffPo) rather disturbing, along with the revelations that the same thing is going on in Australian schools. It is less common in Britain; parents are more likely to tell the school to f*ck off, and in any case the school day is an hour longer. From the HuffPo piece:
There is much debate about the merits and volume of homework imposed on our kids. But there’s one big component that has been notably absent from the discussion: Mommy Homework.
For the uninitiated, Mommy Homework is the bane of many mothers’ lives. While perhaps intended to be an opportunity for bonding between parent and student, it instead frequently devolves into a parent Googling “How do you paper maché?” at midnight. It is dioramas in first grade, ancestor dolls dressed in authentic cultural costumes in second grade and re-construction of Colonial Williamsburg in fifth grade.
Mommy Homework (and yes, of course it can also be Daddy Homework) has been known to tie up entire weekends, leave its victims covered in baking soda (volcanic eruptions for science) — and befuddled as to why a balloon can light a lightbulb.
I have to say as a mother who works outside the home that I find homework extremely difficult to organise. If I was also a single parent it would just about break me. On the days I go off to work we don’t all set foot again inside our front door until just before the kids’ bedtime. Asking friends and family who pick up our kids from school and kindy, and who look after them for the afternoon and evening (including bathing them and giving them dinner), to also supervise their homework feels like a step too far. Fortnightly homework schedules are a little easier for me to manage because that gives us a weekend to catch up on all the homework.
The comments are worth a look, too, including one from a woman who gave up her job thanks to the volume of homework her kids were getting.
I don’t have kids (for which I am thanking my lucky stars more and more every day), but apart from placing ridiculous demands on parents’ time and not allowing kids to be kids (what about sport? Or a musical instrument? Or just tooling around the neighbourhood on a treadly?) has it not occurred to the eejits demanding this kind of parental involvement how classist it is?
My mother left school and went ‘in service’ at 13. My father left school and joined the Royal Navy at 16. Neither of them were stupid, but my mother’s literacy levels were marginal and while my father was bright in a practical way, there was no way either could have helped me with, say, quadratic equations or reading Shakespeare.
My policy with homework (just to give a student’s perspective here) was that if ‘it didn’t count’, I didn’t do it. All my continuous assessment was handed in on time (often early, in fact), and completed to a meticulous standard. However, homework that wasn’t for marks was never completed. Ever. Because I had better things to do with my time, like playing hockey or debating or tooling around the neighbourhood on a treadly. From the age of 15, I also worked part-time.
Were I a parent in the position of the various people quoted in the two pieces above, the school would get told where it could stick its homework. If they want that much homework done, make the school day longer, pay the teachers more and offer ‘prep’ time (common in Britain and in successful US charter schools).
I now understand why homeschooling is becoming popular. I always used to think homeschooling was for people who thought that on the eighth day the Lord created Smith & Wesson, but now I know better. If schools are asking parents to do this much at home, I completely understand some parents saying, ‘bugger it, may as well go the whole hog’.