“My Marks Were Torn to Shreds” For Failure to Complete Homework

A few weeks ago, I heard from Etta Kralovec, author of The End of Homework, that she is looking for stories about students whose grades were lowered due to homework incompletion. Have you sent her yours?

I passed on this email I received from a 19-year-old Australian high school graduate, who is very articulate about why he didn’t do homework and what that has meant.

Dear Sara,

Thank you very much for your strong opinion and professional stance against homework, and most certainly bringing to light the harm homework can do to children. Now, although I am aware that your petitioning is only for elementary years, I wish to share with you my experience, and how homework can and does affect many talented individuals who are not provided with the proper education stimuli and are just thrown an enormous pile of ‘homework’.

Personally, I am a 19 year old Australian male who has declined doing homework for most of my natural born life,


yet because of the workload that teachers had set upon me in my final years of schooling and the resistance I had, I managed to find myself with a final score of 65% in Year 12 (or my ‘senior’ year). Because of this stand against homework (although I excelled in my regular studies), my marks were torn to shreds by teachers placing too much emphasis on homework, with many believing that I’d amount to nothing and even saying this to my face on numerous occasions; such is the attitude of a private Grammar school.

Now, exactly 12 months after I completed my final year of schooling dismally, I’m employed as a feature article writer for a nation-wide magazine, which seemingly defies logic if anyone wishes to accept the myth of Homework. I personally believe that if more emphasis was placed on teaching and structure throughout all subjects then homework would become a thing of the past.

However, because of my results of which the nightmarish workload caused, 90% of the doors in the Tertiary education system are now closed for me. For that, I’d like to thank homework; for without it I’d probably have many more opportunities to succeed in life.

Homework should not be used as an IQ test nor a measure of knowledge, because it can cut a lot of people off, many of these persons being intellectuals. How do I know this? Because I have an IQ of 134, and have been ostracized from any further learning institutions permanently.

Thank you for your time and patience, and an even bigger thank you for the cause you’re fighting for.

15 Comments on ““My Marks Were Torn to Shreds” For Failure to Complete Homework”

  1. Sue says:

    This guy is going places. The irony is that, mark my words, he will someday receive three honorary degrees from admiring universities/colleges that shut the door in his face today. I hope he manages to keep a straight face. Go knock ’em dead!!

    November 17th, 2009 at 8:39 am
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  2. K says:

    Don’t worry about your future, fella – doors can open in nontraditional ways. There are back doors to most institutions for people like you.

    That said, how many bright young minds are we leaving adrift in the wake of “teaching them to follow through” on inane busywork? Do other dispirited youth turn to other (more destructive) outlets when they are left behind by educational institutions?

    I am so worried about my son – similar IQ, similar difficulty in doing work for work’s sake. He is nine and will tackle the projects I give my college kids with relish. But, for love nor money I can’t get the kid to finish his worksheets at home or in class.

    November 17th, 2009 at 9:07 am
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  3. HomeworkBlues says:

    I am so worried about my son?—?similar IQ, similar diffi culty in doing work for work’s sake. He is nine and will tackle the projects I give my college kids with relish. But, for love nor money I can’t get the kid to finish his work sheets at home or in class.”

    It is a well known fact that gifted kids have greater difficulty with homework. The higher the IQ, often the greater resistance.

    Australian young man, check out Miraca Gross. She’s Australian and an international figure in the world of gifted education. She wrote a piece on why gifted kids are what she called “academic disasters.” She explains that their grades are often in the toilet, in part, because they are bored and hate doing busy work. I know that goes for all children but it often tends to go double for those on the higher extremes of intelligence. Contrary to popular belief, gifted kids are not just alright, they’ll do fine in school, no matter what.

    Australian, your future is not over. Why, it is just beginning! Yes, your grades preclude you from a good university spot right now. But the stand you took is worth the risk. As said, you can fashion a new future by going at it via the back door. You can sign up for non-matriculated courses at a university. You can go to community college and build up some credits.

    Jonathan Mooney, author of “Learning Outside the Lines” was severely dyslexic and ADHD. He was told by guidance counselors the best he could hope for was flipping burgers. He went on to graduate from Brown University with a 4.0 average in none other than… English!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gbBLYHyR7qg

    November 17th, 2009 at 11:06 am
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  4. Joe D says:

    If the young man in Australia was responsible, he would have completed his assignments. He was lazy and did not feel like it. He spends a great deal of energy detailing why he did not want to complete the work.

    He laments his future but his future is based upon how he handled his past (and present). There is always a second opportunity but he will likely have to show a willingness to take instruction.

    Regarding the comments left here by Sue, K & HomeworkBlues, one word: Mollycoddle – to treat with an excessive or absurd degree of indulgence or attention.

    November 22nd, 2009 at 6:22 pm
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  5. Sam G says:

    It’s fine to take an alternate path in life, but you can’t whine about the consequences of not playing by the rules.

    If you don’t bow to the system, you can’t take part in it.

    November 23rd, 2009 at 5:13 pm
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  6. K says:

    Joe D –

    That would be exactly right if everyone’s brains worked the same way.

    How much time have you spent in elementary school recently?

    There is an astonishing amount of heavy work (lots of writing, rewriting) that has no tangible learning outcome. My kid can tackle college-sized ideas, but due to attentional issues (this is not a “pansy-ass” description – literally – his cognitive processing occurs differently than many), he literally can’t stay with work that is not stimulating. If the curriculum matched his abilities (and where it does in the gifted program) – no problem. When the work is overly dull, his brain takes a vacation internally to design new technology and explore his ideas (which looks, from the outside, like he is just zoning out).

    If school differentiated curriculum to match the kids – I would agree with you.

    November 24th, 2009 at 10:01 am
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  7. Anonymous says:

    K, thank you. People often assume erroneously that when gifted children with attentional issues have difficulty with homework, that they merely bump down to much easier work.

    No, no, no. Some kids cannot get through tedious non= stimulating assignments. I’m not going to be a snob and assert that this is how ANY child should spend their afternoon. But for certain kids, dull tedious repetitive work is anathema and it’s like puling teeth just to get them to do it.

    My daughter’s best math teacher is known to be the hardest in the school. But it worked for her! He was conceptual instead of rote and his math problems were harder but less. Our child has been telling us for years; I want harder not more, I want harder not more. If only someone would listen.

    November 24th, 2009 at 10:10 am
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  8. Anonymous says:

    Correction: non-stimulating. Not non = stimulating. Typo.

    November 24th, 2009 at 10:10 am
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  9. Steven Y. says:

    This is unacceptable! most of the stories I have read on the internet about stopping homework deal with persons of high IQ (like myself) because they find homework a waste of their intellect, I can not believe that he has been denied higher education because of tedious homework! Why is it that going through grade school is mandatory by law in most countries but you can be denied education after grade school? If its mandatory to go to grade school, and you have completed grade school you should be allowed to choose if you want a higher education, you shouldn’t be denied! If the government recognizes that he is a gifted individual then why doesn’t it recognize that he should get a higher education? Why waste an intellect? Why?

    November 24th, 2009 at 4:51 pm
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  10. sophie says:

    i think that stopping home work is bad because then people wont get a good education i am a ten year old girl and i would like a good education instead of sitting around on my butt getting obese every day of every second so if i were u i would be sitting in the waiting room waiting 2 be interviewed

    December 3rd, 2009 at 6:12 am
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  11. Anonymous says:

    You know I’d have to agree with you. I absolutely hate homework for the fact that it is work (busy too) which cuts into the things I do. Three-dimensional modeling, freelancing as a graphic artist, building computers, taking care of my family’s dogs and having FUN are all examples from my life of what gets blocked by homework. I don’t enjoy it unless I’m interested in the subject and even if I am I might not do it.

    Projects especially are a hassle for me, they always cut into time I could be watching the Super Bowl or enjoying time with my relatives or even just doing other homework; that cuts into my time even more. The 10 minute rule, I don’t think, seems to apply to my high school. So if you start a project 2 days before it’s due and you were assigned said “project” about 9-10 days ago (about a week and a half) it would take me (because of how much of a perfectionist I am sigh…) 18 hours per project. So that’s about 2 hours a day if you were to split it up throughout the past week and a half. That’s already 10 minutes past the limit of 10 minutes per grade (120) not to mention the hour long physics worksheets, the 2 hour long math textbook assignment due the next class, and reading, annotating and analyzing a 10-14 page essay in The Norton Reader which will be due in class, not to mention at least 2 pages on that essay (so make that ehhh… . 2 hours for the essay, and an hour or so of annotation and reading). So at my high school with Psychology, Physics, AP English Composition, Pre-Calculus, World History (luckily my teacher doesn’t fully believe in huge amounts of homework but we do get an hour or so here or there (last semester I had none; different teacher and a great one at that 🙂 )), and ACP Digital Pre- Production (film and editing class) I have a full plate on my hands already without the additives of whatever else goes on in life that affects me. So just like you, I’ve gone most of my life not really doing any homework because I have a LIFE outside of the education system.

    I have an IQ of 153. In math class, I understand everything in that class and pass each and every test with flying colors, yet I only got a C in Pre-Calc last semester because I chose to do no homework. If I don’t even try on a test I get a minimum of a C+… yet my grade in a class hurts; it’s either a B or a C from the amount of homework that I don’t do because I know the curriculum by heart so I choose not to spend my life at my computer, typing essays due on Monday… or Friday… or Wednesday. I don’t find myself going to a prestigious college; I do find myself passing high school. What lays ahead on the path less traveled by I have no clue, yet I choose to follow it to my death rather than doing “busywork.”

    April 10th, 2010 at 4:56 am
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  12. Anonymous 2 says:

    Forgot one thing, I have a 30.3 BMI, which if you put it any way, I am obese.
    P.S. I’m not the same Anonymous that posted on the 24th so I’ll be Anonymous 2 (the one that posted on the 4/10/10)

    April 10th, 2010 at 5:03 am
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  13. Athens says:

    Homework really destroys the morale of teenagers in honors classes in high school. For one thing, I am a freshman that is taking Pre-Calculus classes and is involved in after school clubs and activities. I am accustomed to being an A+ student, since i am a perfectionist and tests come really easy to me, i don’t study much except when it comes to memorizing vocabulary. I’m guessing my IQ is higher then most, but it is even hard for me to complete the homework and projects that teachers assigned over a one week period. There are packets from math and English, a work book from science, and the class for world history has to take a 100-and-something paged work book and turn every page into maps. Don’t forget the English-and-history combo essay that’s also do when we come back for break. Oh, yeah. We have to study for all the CST’s that are coming up. And if we don’t do it then at least one teacher is threatening detention. Okay, I’m done ranting. I better get back to work (i am sorry that i am not brave enough to take the path less traveled by.)

    April 10th, 2010 at 3:27 pm
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  14. ??? says:

    I think the 10-minute rule is being applied to different subects. For example, if you’re in 6 grade you would get up to 1 hour of math, 1 hour of science, 1 hour of history, etc.

    April 4th, 2011 at 7:02 pm
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  15. Jordan says:

    Hey, I have found this tread in my extra stress. Basically for the last 5 weeks I have been working a 16 hour job, my homework is getting so extensive I al having problems handing in my usual high quality of work. Recently I have also had to drop basketball and basically my other hobby of paintball just to handle my homework. Over this week alone I have had 2 projects, three essays, and five tests. Basically I am really stressed and I am not sure if I will make it through my last 6 days. Sorry guys but I have to rant somewhere. Excuse the spelling if there is any I am just tired.
    Cheers!
    Jordan

    June 8th, 2011 at 11:39 pm
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