A parent of a tenth grader who goes to a public school in Brooklyn, New York, wrote to me about her son’s homework over the break. Since Christmas fell on a Monday this year, New York City public school students only had 10 days off from school (including Christmas and New Year’s Day and 2 weekends).
Her son was assigned homework in even subject–history, English, Italian, math, and science–and was given a lengthy Science Lab project as well. In addition, while all of the homework was due the day back from vacation, the big science test of the semester was the second day back from the break. Her son spent the “better part of 4 days of the vacation” on homework.
He came down to the wire with his science project. So I was printing his lab report for him at 11 p.m. on New Year’s Day and the printer ran out of ink because I had printed 14 pages so many times trying to get the headers right and he freaked out and I got mad and jammed the new ink catridge in and broke the printer.
So then he was really upset! It was a total nightmare. I ended up getting it to print on my computer but I had to redo the whole thing from word perfect on the pc to word and then to the mac with reformatting it all. We hardly got any sleep. All because we “wasted” time visiting his grandfather and cousins in NH and because he was tired because I let him go to a New Year’s Eve party til 3 a.m. I think those are both things you are supposed to do over the holidays.
This is how the mother described the Science Lab:
a 14 page paper with abstract, hypothesis, etc. you know all those science experiment things in MLA format with cited works and headers and footers, including growing 9 pots of lima bean plants and measuring them every day for 17 days. We almost took 9 pots of bean plants in the rented car with us to NH, can you imagine, but he decided to cut short the days. He also had to find 3 original scientific journal articles about lima beans and caffeine. He went to the Brooklyn College Library on the half day before the break because it’s closed for the break but their computers were down! So we had to find the articles on the internet. They were incomprehensible to me but he managed to somehow make them relate to his experiment.
The mother added,
The only reason I know the whole list is because we had to discuss it a lot for him to figure out how to manage his time. He usually does all his work on his own. And we failed because we were both trying to avoid that last minute hell of the broken printer at midnight on the last night and we got it anyway.