Student Made His Homework Optional

A few weeks ago, I read a story in, about a student, now 25, and a cum-laude graduate from college, who made his homework optional, both in high school and in college.

Intrigued, I emailed his mother, Julia Rhodes, to find out a little more. She told me that her son, who had been diagnosed with a learning disability when he was young, was “smart as a whip,” but struggled in school. His grades in elementary school reflected his refusal to do homework and when he went to high school, he decided that he would negotiate a deal so that he wouldn’t have to do homework. “A great communicator,” her son talked to his teachers and made deals with them. He told them he would help them, tutor other students, and do well on his tests, but that he just couldn’t face doing the “mundane, day-to-day work.” And his teachers, eager to keep the personable athlete in their Sonora, California, high school, agreed. Even through college, her son negotiated deals with teachers.

Rhodes, a single mother and a teacher for many years, instilled in her son “the belief that he could do anything. I didn’t care about his grades,” she told me. “Not everyone has to be an A student. I’d seen too many driven kids, and they weren’t happy or passionate about what they were doing. I just wanted my son to believe in himself and I helped him learn how to advocate for himself.”

4 thoughts on “Student Made His Homework Optional

  1. Interesting approach. I read the examiner piece. My concern is that something still had to be bargained for to get this kid out of homework. He had to promise to participate in class, study and do well on tests. Well…..? Isn’t that what all kids are supposed to do anyway in a classroom owned and operated by a good teacher?
    Aren’t those regular components of being a pupil?

    If it’s not, then are the teachers saying that they can talk to lumps all day as long as the lumps sit at home for 3 hours each night doing homework? Geez is school really that bad these days?

    I must be really spoiled at our school.


  2. I have never thought of this approach before. I guess a student could contract to either be expected to do it or contracted to not have to do it and have the grade calculated without it.

    My gradebook program (required by my school) would choke on this dual system, so I will have to think about a workaround.


  3. It was my son who negotiated his way through school and it was not an easy road to walk. Not every teacher agreed to work with him and he did have to do some “homework”- When he did do “homework”, it was usually meaningful and or required to pass the class at minimum. He had a’s b’s, c’s and d’s as well as incomplete assignments in high school. However, he managed more effectively in college – He had assignments that he “had to do” and he did them when it was necessary. That is how life works too. We all know there are “teachers” that collect a pay check and then there are the teachers that change lives – teaching us how to survive in the real world. Most children know the difference as do their parents. I was excited when he found his passion while in school, pursued his dream and now has a job doing what he loves!!! My advice to parents is to listen to your children-be supportive and work with the teachers. Create a great team to get through “the system”. Also we learned that not all “homework” is “bad”. Actually “homework” has a negative reputation but here are some great assignments out there that add value to a lesson and to life. It is the “mundane and senseless” homework that needs to go. Best advice I can give from my experience is “Teach your children to believe in themselves, stand up for what is right and make the world a better place because they are in it”.


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