A Tenth Grader Speaks Out–”My Curiosity and Desire to Learn is Constantly Shrinking” Because of Excessive Homework

About a year ago, I posted a piece by a New York City private school 10th grader, I love School, but it’s Killing Me. I was reminded of her when I received a call from the mother of a New York City 10th grader, whose daughter was spending 6 hours on homework a night and was both sleep deprived and starting to dislike school. The mother let her daughter stay home from school for a few days to catch up on sleep and notified the school that accommodations would be needed so that her daughter’s homework load would be lessened. When it was clear that the school wasn’t interested in reducing its homework load, despite the concerns raised by many students, the 10th grader (with her parents’ approval) decided to withdraw. Here’s the letter she wrote to the school:

A Tenth Grader Speaks Out–”My Curiosity and Desire to Learn is Constantly Shrinking” Because of Excessive Homework

I hope you will understand that I am more comfortable expressing my feelings through this letter than a conversation in your office. Believe me this is a difficult letter to sit down and write. I am devastated by the way things have progressed and yet I know I am making the right decision. I would like to explain my reasons for wanting to leave your New York City private school.

There are so many things I truly love and will miss about the school, including my yoga and sculpture classes, some of my teachers, Film Club, trips, and the way I felt welcomed by the community.

As you know, after the first few weeks of tenth grade I was already feeling burnt out from what I felt were unnecessary amounts of homework. I really appreciated you allowing me to drop Chemistry. This helped because it eliminated an hour of homework each night and also, frankly, Chemistry is not a subject I am interested in. Unfortunately, it was not a solution, and the fact that I am in other classes that I feel similarly about makes it difficult for me to learn joyfully, and impossible for me to pursue other interests outside of school because of the intense amounts of homework assigned. (I was forced to give up piano lessons for the first time in 8 years).

I love learning. During the summer I took a life drawing class, read a dozen books (including my first Nabokov), and managed to keep up playing piano, while maintaining an internship for a non-profit publication. I even worked on my French by reading a french translation of Alice in Wonderland.

I feel that my curiosity and desire to learn is constantly shrinking when I spend time on assignments that I feel are “busywork”- and an inordinate amount of them. I also have come to realize that a traditional school environment is not only the wrong match, but is also unhealthy for me. While sitting in class taking notes from a powerpoint presentation works for the majority of teachers and students, I can honestly say that it is deadly for me. Separately, I refuse to accept- in a subject that I love- to have a teacher call on me only when my hand isn’t raised. The few classes I had left to enjoy were fun, but far too easy for me. I certainly would not complain about this fact when I had 6 hours of homework waiting at home.

One of my most valuable learning experiences was through my in-school community service, where I worked with the art teacher in the 3rd and 2nd grade classrooms. This was a really great way to learn for me because I’m interested in teaching art to children as a possible profession. Not only did I get to watch an inspired teacher and a great person in action, but I also was able to really get involved and connect with the kids. This is the kind of learning that I crave. I wasn’t sitting at a desk taking notes on someone talking about what 3rd grade art teachers do.

So, I am saddened and disappointed that the school I have come to know is very different from the school I thought I was signing up for. I have every intention to come in to say my proper goodbyes. I am exploring my options right now, and as soon as I settle on a plan I will contact you to arrange a time.

Respectfully,

10th grade student

38 Comments on “A Tenth Grader Speaks Out–”My Curiosity and Desire to Learn is Constantly Shrinking” Because of Excessive Homework”

  1. Anonymous says:

    This is such an articulate letter. I’ve seen letters from teachers that weren’t written half as well. (Or, sometimes, a tenth as well.)

    This girl is assertive, has a strong sense of herself, and knows how to walk away from a situation that’s damaging. She’ll go far.

    November 16th, 2009 at 7:48 am
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  2. HomeworkBlues says:

    I agree. I admire that the girl left. I’m all for negotiations but voting with your feet, asserting you’re fed up and you’re not going to take it anymore, little is more empowering.

    The girl was respectful and assertive. She was diplomatic, she took the high road. But she did not shirk, she did not back down. One can only hope the school does some soul searching but I’m not holding my breath. Exactly our tack when we pulled out to homeschool. Sayonara, baby!

    November 16th, 2009 at 7:55 am
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  3. PsychMom says:

    Certainly a young person with wisdom beyond her years….

    November 16th, 2009 at 7:58 am
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  4. Timmy Mac says:

    Any school that makes such an intelligent, curious, and passionate person feel like they have to leave to learn can only be called a big, fat, failure.

    November 16th, 2009 at 9:00 am
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  5. FedUpMom says:

    @ 10th grader — wow. Excellent letter. I hope you’ll post again and let us know where you’ve gone from here.

    Just one slight disagreement — you say:

    *********************
    While sit­ting in class tak­ing notes from a pow­er­point pre­sen­ta­tion works for the major­ity of teach­ers and stu­dents,
    **********************

    Some teacher or administrator may have told you, “Nobody else has complained!” or “Everybody else likes it this way!” but don’t you believe it. If you’re bored out of your mind, you’re not the only one. Powerpoint presentations are notorious for their coma-inducing powers. Ask anyone in the business world.

    I often wonder if schools will be forced to change because the best students leave, but I so far I have not seen this happen. Frankly, I don’t know how to change schools. The best advice I can give anyone struggling with a school that won’t respond to their problems is to get out. Find a better school, or start your own, or homeschool.

    November 16th, 2009 at 9:27 am
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  6. HomeworkBlues says:

    You know, FedUp, I completely agree with you. You made every additional point I wanted to make this morning but did not have time.

    10th grader, look at the validation you just got here. Here are schools, losing their best and brightest and they don’t seem to care. Yes, FedUp, your principal sat up when you told her you were leaving. But that may be as far as it goes.

    My daughter should have been the one they would cry over losing as well. Admittedly, I never gave them that option. I agonized about my homeschool decision all summer long and finally sent an email at 4am the first day of school. It wasn’t meant to be spiteful, it just took that long for me to fully make this decision. My daughter was the easy one. She was on board from the get go.

    I didn’t ask, I didn’t explain, I just left. In hindsight, I wish I’d said more. But at least I got to do this. We went back to the school one day to pick up a friend. We told an assistant principal we’d left (in a large institutional setting, you are never sure if they know your name). She asked us how it was going. I beamed and responded, BEST decision we ever made!

    To echo FedUp Mom’s comment, the same reaction jumped out at me. No, 10th grader, taking notes off a power point presentation does not work for most kids. It’s lazy. Forgive me, but it’s a great way to blow off an entire period and then ask you to make it up at home. No wonder our kids are sitting still, doing homework for six hours a night in high school. They’re not getting enough done during the day. If your education should consist of doing no more than watching power point presentations and taking notes, you could do that at home!

    I agree the best thing you can do is vote with your feet and get out. A childhood is a terrible thing to waste.

    November 16th, 2009 at 9:41 am
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  7. PsychMom says:

    I was thinking back to my high school years and how we were taught. In those days it was overhead projectors. But at least if the teacher was using them and had prepared them ahead of time, 9 times out of 10 they continued to add notes to them…there was interaction with the class. It was hardly every class either. In my day there was a lot of chalk board work as well..

    Class time was spent the same way as today though, the teacher droning on at the front…..

    I agree, Powerpoint will lead to the downfall of society out of sheer boredom.

    November 16th, 2009 at 10:50 am
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  8. HomeworkBlues says:

    Susan Ohanian ran a fabulous piece on Power Point some years ago. I’ll try to fish it out. Now I think everyone’s on to it but the long provocative piece talked about how at first glance, when it was all new and dazzling, Power Point seemed like such a great idea! High tech, gone all cool and communicative. All laid out up there, in neat graphics, up on the screen, colorful, vivid, organized, pretty, for all to see.

    Until you stop and think. We’re all subjected to them at conferences. Used to be, the speaker interacted with the audience. I went to a conference recently and every single presenter used Power Point. At the end of the day, the last breakout before leaving, where I swore under my breath I would plotz if I had to sit through one more uninspiring Power Point, the speaker stood in front of the lectern, not behind and gone was the annoying clicker. He walked around the room, engaged us, gave us a fun icebreaker, we laughed, we talked, it was lively. It was so clear this was different from all the others.

    If your child is in middle or high and she has multiple teachers, did your school use them on Back to School Night too? Almost all did here and instead of talking to the parents, they just read what was on the screen. All eyes were on the screen, not on the teacher. And now they are being used ad nauseum in classrooms too.

    Given that the kids are overworked and sleep deprived, attention shot by afternoon, it’s a wonder any of them stay awake long enough to catch these droning gems.

    November 16th, 2009 at 11:09 am
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  9. K says:

    This young, articulate student really hits the main message beautifully.

    It isn’t that I will insist that my child have NO HOMEWORK.

    Instead, I would simply insist that my child only have a reasonable amount of thought-provoking work that reinforces the main concepts of the week.

    There should be a moratorium on: diaramas (eegads), rewriting questions, rewriting spelling words, worksheet filling, and “artistic projects” (my child’s mom is not artistic enough to make a go at these assignments).

    Instead, a few thought-provoking problems, perhaps some suggested reading (but not every night), some ideas to explore…

    We keep forgetting – children LOVE to learn. Like us, though, they don’t really like work.

    November 16th, 2009 at 11:17 am
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  10. HomeworkBlues says:

    I haven’t had time to look for that long article, but this is good too.

    “Particularly disturbing is the adoption of the PowerPoint cognitive style in our schools. Rather than learning to write a report using sentences, children are being taught how to formulate client pitches and infomercials. (snip) Students would be better off if the schools simply closed down on those days and everyone went to the Exploratorium or wrote an illustrated essay explaining something.”

    I vote for the Exploratorium! I took my daughter at age 3 and after nine hours, refused to leave.

    Read the rest: http://susanohanian.org/show_atrocities.php?id=6466

    November 16th, 2009 at 11:18 am
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  11. HomeworkBlues says:

    K, great comment!

    “It isn’t that I will insist that my child have NO HOMEWORK”

    I would for elementary though. I like that Canadian opt-out policy. In my home, NO HOMEWORK does not mean NO LEARNING!

    November 16th, 2009 at 11:56 am
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  12. Mary Sullivan says:

    ~~Timmy Mac: YES! Could not have put it better!

    ~~10th grader: Excellent letter, and congrats on taking more control of your learning and health. It will pay off. I’m sorry you had to leave the things you like about your school, but you’ve got all the assets you need to reach your potential. Most adults, frankly, are not as clued-in to their own needs as you are to yours. And that is a **major** success factor in life. I hope you’ll find a better way soon to get your h.s. diploma and move toward a very bright future.

    ~~On the voting-with-your-feet issue, this school may care, as it is private, and losing a tuition-paying student. Most public schools, OTOH, could probably care less. I have a decent relationship now with our district, so possibly they’d care a teeny tiny bit if we pulled out and made a strong case for why. But a few years ago, when I had yet to discover the value of collaboration and diplomacy? They’d have thought good riddance–don’t let the door hit you on the way out 🙁

    November 16th, 2009 at 12:49 pm
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  13. Mary Sullivan says:

    ~~ps…The point in the letter about giving up piano lessons really hit me, as I’m still bummed about having to punt this wkend on even the minimal piano I normally do with the kids [ I’m not a great teacher, but I’m free 😉 ] because of excessive HW. Kids had Fri. off for conferences, so it was a 3-day wkend, but over those 3 days my 5th-grade twins each had a couple hours of HW and a test to study for with “study proof” that we parents have to sign, and my 7th grader spent 9 hours just on science, 50+% of it requiring parental help. He had several difficult online assignments that involved research, a separate multipart research and writing project with a catchy theme but still time consuming, and a test to prep for (this teacher prides himself on tough tests). Our older son has inattentive-type ADD, so his 9 hrs probably = 4-5 hrs for most kids. But that’s still crazy! I met the teacher at conferences and liked him, but his whole thing is “preparing them for high school.” More like burning ’em out before they even get there.

    November 16th, 2009 at 1:46 pm
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  14. PsychMom says:

    Oh Mary….you’ve touched on all my sore spots. Ouch, ouch ouch ouch. My big question is this….do schools assume that all parents have university educations? To make it through much of what even my Grade 3 student has brought home, requires a degree and experience with science, statistics and research. I think if I hear any more about “research” in elementary school, I’m gonna hurl. (That’s a scientific term) The poor parents who may have trouble reading, who come from other countries, who left school early for the same reasons their children hate school now…all these people will not be involved in their kids’ homework. What then?

    Every time I hear about and read that parent involvement is required, it makes me angry at the gall of it. My youngster had a day off last week too and it was seen as a day in which some school work could be done. What an assumption! School just assumes they own us and they don’t.

    And lastly, my favourite…preparing them for what lies ahead…..it does burn them out..so much pressure is too hard to take and only results in a deep hatred for all things “school”.

    November 16th, 2009 at 3:04 pm
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  15. Mary Sullivan says:

    PsychMom–Yes, I think about those things all the time…re. parent education and even just parents’ presence. I think especially of a single parent working long hours or more than one job–how can (s)he possibly help with with all this, even if the education and motivation are there?

    In our community, pretty much everyone has a degree, and a good percentage have advanced degrees. Maybe that’s why the schools feel free to dump such demanding–and, to me, inappropriate–assignments on the kids. I actually don’t mind helping some, when the kids request it (they strongly prefer to work independently when possible…but I can’t let my 12 y.o. sit and stare at a computer screen for an hour with no progress), and luckily most days I’m around to do that. About to do it right now! But this wkend was not “some” help–it was WAY too much. When my son got stuck, I thought okay, he must just not know what keywords to search. I helped him play with different combos–a useful skill, one could argue–but after many tries, we still couldn’t find any sources that weren’t extremely technical scientific papers. Not only are these not written for middle schoolers, they’re not even written (to get back to your point) for educated adults with less than a PhD in biology. It”s lunacy.

    November 16th, 2009 at 5:28 pm
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  16. Ben says:

    This is lunacy. Even I can’t remember ever having this much homework. Sure, there were a couple of instances where I had to pull an all-nighter to get through a particularly complicated test, but kids burning out hardly a week after the year started is just wrong.

    I don’t think Homework should be stopped entirely; it’s impossible to do enough of it at school, but less of it is certainly a solid idea.

    November 17th, 2009 at 4:02 am
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  17. PsychMom says:

    I disagree Ben. Homework should be stopped entirely. The exception I would make is perhaps final year of high school and then school work at home would be limited to an hour at night. Having just read today’s posting from the 19 year old Australian, I’m more certain of that than ever. The measure of a person is, in fact, how strongly they can oppose forces that wish them to conform to nonsense, and in my estimation, this 19 year old has surpassed every one of his high school teachers. They should all be ashamed.

    And studying for a test, is not the same as doing homework every night for hours on end.

    November 17th, 2009 at 7:55 am
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  18. HomeworkBlues says:

    Mary, we’re kindred spirits here with ADD kids who take three times longer to get homework done. There’s also the triumvirate of perfectionism, creativity and procrastination. Trust me, I know. We have been in Homework Hell for nine years. Thank heavens for that one year of homeschooling.

    Sara, it’s wonderful how you and Lenore Skenazy over at Free Range Kids support each other. She references this post on her blog. I commented on the Obama school day extension proposal on her blog and she and I had some private discussions about homework overload.

    http://freerangekids.wordpress.com/

    November 17th, 2009 at 10:09 am
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  19. HomeworkBlues says:

    I just read the comments on free range kids. They’re all in our corner, everyone sharing their own battle scars. Only one parent defended homework and even he (she?) conceded fifteen minutes ought to do the trick. The lone teacher (so far) was completely supportive and acknowledged how she’s always swimming against the tide. I only wish this “homework revolution” moved a little more quickly. This problem could go away almost overnight if parents jumped on this train en masse.

    I keep hearing teachers saying they assign a crushing workload because parents demand it. I’ve been hearing this for years. In my daughter’s “elite” gifted public school programs, sad to say, I’ve been a constant witness to this. But I will say this. For every Stepford Wife who demands more, there are ten others silently seething, afraid to buck the trend.

    My response? Assign on sound research, not on ideology. A school’s job is to do what’s right for kids with a responsibility to be up on the latest research and prepare our children for the 21st century, not to cave. One parent at my daughter’s school justified the 1:30 am bedtimes with this: She needs all this homework to get good grades to get into a top college. And if she didn’t have this much homework, she would just be on the computer all night.

    Fine. That’s YOUR kid. Not mine. You want more homework, go for it. Ask the school to assign even more, to your heart’s delight. Just make it optional.

    November 17th, 2009 at 10:22 am
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  20. PsychMom says:

    On the thread of other blogs, Dan Pink has a really good quote today that is so applicable to our cause…

    http://www.danpink.com

    November 17th, 2009 at 11:42 am
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  21. Mary Sullivan says:

    I think I’m outnumbered here, as I believe a ***modest*** amount of HW can help build work ethic, which is still important in the 21st C. Also, certain skills–math, writing–require practice to become automatic. With limited instruction time, many transitions in the day, and a variety of different learning styles and paces to manage, I can see where it would be hard for teachers in a typical public school to ensure that everyone gets enough practice while they’re there. And I don’t want my kids missing out on the African drum performance at school, or the class discussion on how to be an ally for someone who is being bullied, so that they can sit and practice calculating percents. They can do that here–in a few minutes a day. Finally, I don’t think most kids do well with drastic change (although certainly there could be exceptions; everyone’s different), like going from zero HW in grade 6 to an hour in gr. 7…or 15 minutes as a high school senior to several hrs of daily self-directed work as a college freshman.

    If there were a blog called think-critically-about-homework-and-reign-it-the-heck-IN-already.com, I’d be there 😉 But this site is awesome, and the success stories here of parents–and kids!–asserting themselves for a healthier, saner life are very inspiring to me personally.

    HW Blues–AMEN to “Fine. That’s YOUR kid. Not mine. You want more home­work, go for it. Ask the school to assign even more, to your heart’s delight. Just make it optional.” I went to a parent discussion on HW once with our gr. 3-4 school principal. One mom was adamantly opposed to any sort of HW policy or limits on teachers’ freedom to assign whatever they please. Afterward, she told me she was grateful for the “academic butt kicking” her kids were getting in our district, after 2 years living abroad and, she felt, slacking off in a less demanding school system. All I could think of was “Okay, whatever, but don’t kick MY kids’ butts.”

    This is why an opt-out policy is so brilliant. That lady can kick her kids’ butts with HW while in our house, my kids knock out a bit of math and writing practice and then move on. Right now, it seems like we never get to move on, and our time is never our own…which is really depressing 🙁

    November 17th, 2009 at 3:25 pm
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  22. Mary Sullivan says:

    oh my gosh…I didn’t realize how long that post would be–so sorry (blushing)

    November 17th, 2009 at 3:25 pm
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  23. HomeworkBlues says:

    Mary, great post. Don’t apologize, mine are even longer. And now I’d better go before Sara kicks MY butt. 🙂

    November 17th, 2009 at 3:52 pm
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  24. Eric says:

    Nobody learns well from Powerpoint. I wish someone would tell teachers that.

    November 17th, 2009 at 8:38 pm
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  25. HomeworkBlues says:

    Hey, guys. Just found out tonight Power Point is a prominent guest in my daughter’s AP Government class (required). She tells me the classes either consist of Power Point presentations where she has to take notes, or she’s taking a quiz or test.

    I’m so amused…

    November 17th, 2009 at 8:49 pm
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  26. Disillusioned says:

    Great posts all. My heart kinda breaks when I read posts like “A Tenth Grader Speaks Out.” Just had my third grade conference yesterday and sometimes wonder if my daughter and I will ever make it to tenth grade! So many insightful responses to this post. Observing my local school district (from the superintendent to the school board to the principal to the teachers) in action always gives me pause. For the most part, the people who gravitate towards these jobs are…well……different. The coin of the realm (so to speak) isn’t great financial reward. Consequently, their motivation become clouded (in my opinion). Status (and respect) from their peers comes from being a “tough” educator; demanding “the best of the kids”….yada, yada, yada. Moreover, the vocal Stepford Moms reinforce their pride in having high standards (which includes lots of homework). I agree, the silent majority seeths and is scared of criticizing a sacred cow.

    November 17th, 2009 at 9:01 pm
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  27. Jaynie says:

    I definitely identify with 10th grade student. My highschool was fantastic and the workload wasn’t ridiculous, and skipping the busywork was pretty much acceptable as long as you did well on tests etc. But my junior high (7-9th grade) pretty much managed to turn me off science in this way, and I’m very much a “science” person (it’s what I’m studying now).

    We’d have endless notes from each class (projecter, not powerpoint, but to the same effect) that had to be copied down word for word, or in Cornell style, depending on which class you were in. Just in case you were resting your hand for a minute and thus not getting down some vital piece of information (like how matter exists in three states, as you learned in, you know, grade one), we had binder checks to make sure everything was in order and dated and neat. And we had tons upon tons of assignments that ranged from “Copy these questions from the textbook and then find the word-for-word answers further back in the textbook (why?” to the much hated “Work in a group of one smart kid (me) and two total slackers and defend a position in a vaguely science related debate that you actually passionatly disagree with (the smarter you were, the most disagreeable position you had to defend).”

    All this combined to make me resent even having to take science classes at all — luckily, I recovered during highschool and am now a BS student. Gee, I can’t possibly think of any reason why so many ex-classmates dislike and distrust scientific information, can you?

    As an aside, I can’t imagine having a child whose elementary-level busywork is so complicated that they *need* parental help. It’s like — I already passed school. Why should I do it again?

    November 17th, 2009 at 10:13 pm
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  28. College Student in Maine says:

    I agree with this whole-heartedly.
    I am NOT a homework person. It was constantly something I forced myself into for a grade in high school because for me, it was something completely almost completely unneeded in the first place. I had no problem with long term projects or reading for English classes, however the use of what was accurately refered to here as Busy work was mind numbing, and I refused to do it 6 times out of 10.
    oddly enough, now that I’m in College and make my own class schedule, I have LESS total homework than I did in High school, and my GPA is exceedingly higher than it ever was. I graduated with a 2.97. I am in the first semester of my sophomore year with a 3.6.
    My parents were never happy with what they called my ‘time management issues’ however I managed to survive high school, something that many of my peers did not (we had 110 students in my class the first day of freshman year. in 2008, 56 of us graduated, and my twin sister was not one of them, although she had been one to do her homework.maybe 8-10 of those had moved away)
    I am proud of you, 10th grade student.

    November 19th, 2009 at 10:42 pm
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  29. Lynn says:

    I want to give kudos to the 10th grader’s parents, who allowed her to leave the school. They obviously are in tune with their daughter and want her to succeed in her life. Thumbs up to them for raising such an articulate and brave girl!

    November 20th, 2009 at 7:25 pm
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  30. MommyVictory says:

    Well, I thought I was the only one.

    I am a school teacher and work hard to make my fourth grade class an engaging environment, avoiding textbooks, PowerPoints, etc. Meanwhile, I leave my daughter to be educated by worksheet giving, PowerPoint presenting slackers who are mostly looking for a paycheck. I don’t leave my job for fear of who will come behind me to encourage my students.

    It has been a long 15 weeks so far, and everyday I look for alternatives for my child.

    November 21st, 2009 at 10:22 pm
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  31. HomeworkBlues says:

    Wow, MommyVictory, you are a gem. Wish there were many more like you.It’s teachers like you we need to nurture, support and encourage. We don’t want you leaving! NCLB has already chased away too many good ones.

    Thank you for admitting it. My daughter’s government class is taught via Power Point. The kids sit there, watch and take notes. On other days, most of the period is eaten up by almost daily tests and quizzes. All the papers and essays are sent home.

    Thanks for seeing it as it is.

    November 22nd, 2009 at 8:22 am
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  32. Mary Sullivan says:

    Don’t leave, MommyVictory! Like HWBlues said, we need many more like you.

    November 22nd, 2009 at 12:59 pm
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  33. Jen says:

    Good for her! My son felt this way after 1 year in kindergarten, so we pulled him out and homeschool(ed) him. We ask him periodically, if he wants to go back to school….there’s always an emphatic “no!” He just turned 7 and is 1/2 way through 3rd grade and reading at a MUCH higher level. SO sad that the schools do not “get” that homework is not the answer….teaching them during class hours is!

    November 24th, 2009 at 12:19 am
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  34. K says:

    A very inspiring book that you all may want to read (or have your kids read, or both!) is “The Teenage Liberation Handbook.” Fair warning, it inspires kids to leave school and educate themselves (much in the same way that the 10th Grader here was educating herself over the summer), but it’s more than that. It can make you re-think how you view education, and what you think it is and what you think it ought to or could be. Is Earth Science reading 4 chapters on wetlands, or is it pulling on your boots and working with the Department of Conservation on a wetlands restoration project? Is it a statistics unit in Math where you learn to plot points on a graph, or is it gathering field data for a grad student at the local university? Is it a little bit of both? Is it all classroom work or part-time classroom work and part-time field work?

    Interesting stuff to think about.

    The Teenage Liberation Handbook: How to Quit School and Get a Real Life and Education
    by Grace Llewellyn

    November 24th, 2009 at 12:46 pm
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  35. HomeworkBlues says:

    K, yes, that book. When we homeschooled 8th, a friend handed it me as a gift in the hopes we’d keep homeschooling. I hid it from my daughter for fear she’d find it and never want to step one foot back into school ever again. Oh, boy… :(.

    I’ll give you an uplifting story about the joys of learning. As we pondered homeschooling, I reached for the handful of friends who were doing it. I was a newbie and knew next to nothing on the subject.

    One friend, acquaintance really, was homeschooling a daughter a year older than mine. We’d made the decision and I found myself scrambling for a science program. Her daughter was in a homeschool biology class that met weekly with lots of outside stuff (homework makes sense under these circumstances. It’s not about going to school every day and slogging through tedium, it’s about once a week labs and study followed up by independent work).

    I called the teacher but she told me she is teaching a 9th grade biology course and if my daughter was headed back to school, she would just have to repeat it all. We spoke for a while and the woman recommended her tutoring services .Bingo, problem solved, except I could not afford it.

    So I called my friend back. What to do for science curriculum, I wondered. She gave me some words I’ll never forget. She said, “there is school at home and there is homeschooling. School at home is where you bring school into the home, complete with blackboard, textbooks, worksheets. Homeschooling is where you take everything the community has to offer and run with it.”

    It was clear which path that family was traveling down, the latter. Well, for me, that was like giving vodka to an alcoholic. Visions of field trips and exciting ventures danced in my head. I knew what she meant.

    So we ditched the formal science curriculum that year. Just one little year, and we lived to tell the tale.That’s pretty scary to do. We bought a fun book and my husband taught physics. My daughter read science endlessly from a never ending supply of books, magazines and journals. We bought home made experiment kits. We planted bay grasses.

    My daughter thrives on experiential and hands on learning, so I signed her up for every single day long science adventure I could lay my hands on. A full day of water conservation study, a hike learning about flora and fauna, a day long seafaring trip. Tons of local museum trips. All on a shoestring budget. It’s easy to come up with nifty learning ideas when you have money. You just travel the globe! And that summer, my daughter took a three week science course away from home.

    I later compared notes. The schooled kids were listening to a lecture on the overhead and taking notes. They came home to three hours of science homework in 8th grade, cramming large swaths of a dry textbook for endless tests and quizzes. Worksheets, essays, papers, and projects all were sent home. Lab at school was once a week.

    I was so unsure and scared, convinced that little old me would make so many mistakes. All we had was each other when school had an army of staff.

    November 24th, 2009 at 1:45 pm
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  36. Latest learn piano notes news – Piano Lesson Books : How to learn piano for beginners | Easy To Learn Piano says:

    […] Stop Homework » A Tenth Grader Speaks Out – “My Curiosity and … […]

    December 4th, 2010 at 9:14 pm
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  37. Depressed says:

    Currently, I’m in tenth grade as well. I completely understand this situation. Just like this student, I loved learning and I loved attending school. I’m a good student too! For grade nine, I received honours and awards for best marks in some classes. Now, I’m struggling with an approximate six hour homework load each and every night. It’s outrageous! I feel my interest level has dropped beneath zero. Homework seems a big burden. Simply the thought school scares me. Several times I have broken down to tears. I constantly feel depressed. Social life with friends and family? I wish! My life is all do work, no play. It’s gone too far. Schools really need to reconsider.

    December 12th, 2010 at 9:03 pm
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  38. Katie says:

    Hey everyone. I just want to say that I really relate to the girl who wrote this letter. I am 15 years old, and I too, am in 10th grade. I have been in all advanced classes since 7th grade. I managed from 7th-8th grade, but 9th grade is where it all went South. The first half of the year was great, the second half not so much. I had a fantastic trip to Costa Rica, a not-so-fantastic concussion, and loads of homework that I got behind in due to the two events I mentioned. I can’t and couldn’t cope with the amount, and started having problems. I had to quit violin, and for the first time ever I didn’t get straight A’s. See, even though I understood the material I got my grades down for late homework assignments. After school was out it took a couple of weeks to get sleep seemingly caught up, but that’s not the worst thing that happened. I was so motivated to do homework in 9th grade and before. I love doing creative things, I love learning, etc. But nowadays, I don’t feel motivated at all. I feel sick. I’m about to cry as I write this. I really want time to practice my instruments, watch TV, go outside, paint… I want to finish my childhood. I want to have a life. I want to have social interactions with friends in real life, not just at school or through e-mails. This may seem like rambling, but it’s symbolic in a way if it is. Because that’s what my life and head is life. A bunch of rambles barely holding together. And did I mention mental breakdowns? I’ve had those. I can’ stop crying, I can’t think during them, I’m reduced to a childlike state. I never thought I would stay up an extra hour to play a Captain Underpants computer game where you vanquish the baddies to save the children. But it’s simple, fun, and has bathroom and childish humor, something that is like an escape from real life. I am not against any homework, but I am against the current ways of teaching/homework. Us kids are the future. We are the next employees, the next caretakers. Please, adults consider this. Please.

    September 23rd, 2015 at 9:59 pm
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