Even More from Fed-Up Mom

This is the sixth post by FedUp Mom, the mother of a fifth grader. FedUp Mom’s daughter used to attend a public school in suburban Philadelphia, but this year FedUp Mom moved her to a private Quaker school, hoping for a more relaxed environment. You can read her other posts here, here, here, here and here.

(If you want to write about your experiences for Stop Homework, please drop me a line.)

Gifted, schmifted
by FedUp Mom

Looking back at my daughter’s experience in the public school, I think her problems began when she got high scores on the standardized tests and was labelled “gifted”. I have become increasingly skeptical of the following oft-repeated slogans:

1.) “Gifted kids are bored because the work is too easy.” Not necessarily. Sometimes gifted kids are bored because the work is just too boring.

This is an important distinction because it leads to different solutions. If you think the problem is that the work is too easy, then the solution is to move the kids up to the more difficult work of the next grade level. This is what the public school did with my daughter — she tested out as “gifted” in math, so they put her in an accelerated math class, which attempts to get through two grades of math material in one year. For my daughter, this just added frustration and stress to the boredom she was already experiencing, and was the central train wreck of her disastrous fifth grade year.

Why? Because the work, while more difficult, was still fundamentally boring. It didn’t engage her in any way. It was just a stream of algorithms to be memorized and practiced until they could be performed quickly, followed by a timed test, followed by the test being handed back to the students as a group so they could be embarrassed in front of their friends. Somehow we’ve wound up with a system where wealthy school districts reserve their most rigid, punitive, backward teaching for the kids who have been singled out as the brightest.

2.) “Parents want rigor”. Every time I complained about the pressure to the public school principal, she would say, “this is what the other parents want!” and I would think, “if you don’t listen to me, why should you listen to them?” I really don’t know what to make of this argument. Do I think there are hyper-competitive, driven parents out there who are willing to put their kids through the meat grinder, if they think it will improve the kid’s chance of going to the Ivy League? Sure, I’ve met parents like that. But why should the public school cater to them? How many parents would choose a progressive, child-friendly option if it was offered? I say it’s time to find out.

3.) “Gifted kids need to be challenged!” What I object to here is the passive voice. Gifted kids don’t need to be challenged, they need to be supported and encouraged to challenge themselves. As Alfie Kohn rightly points out, the best way to ensure that a child has the right project is to let the kid choose it. It would benefit all students to have a voice and real ownership of what they do at school.

To my taste, a lot of gifted advocates aren’t radical enough. They look at a school system where kids are being trained to jump through a series of hoops, and they say “wait a minute! Those hoops are too easy! My child needs smaller, higher hoops so she’ll be challenged appropriately!” I look at the school system and say, “in the twenty-first century, why are we training kids to jump through a series of hoops?”

4.) “Your daughter is so bright!” This might as well have been part of my name by the time we left the public school. I was constantly greeted with, “Hello, Mrs. FedUpMom-your-daughter-is-so-bright!” Clearly this is a school policy, intended to butter up wayward parents, but I now see it as a symptom of the basic problem. First of all, the teachers are trying to reassure me that I’m a member of an elite group that I’m not convinced I want to belong to. Second, once again, my daughter is being reduced to her test scores. My daughter isn’t just bright, she’s also creative, unconventional, and self-motivated. These are the qualities that led to her miserable school experience. The public school doesn’t reward brains or thinking, it rewards obedience, compliance, and the willingness to give up all other life goals besides satisfying the teacher. The kids who do well in this system are the ones who are bright enough, but not so independent that they ask questions like “what’s the point?”

What do gifted kids really need? They need freedom. They need a chance to develop their own interests at their own pace. They need downtime. They need a social life. They need an interesting, stimulating environment that will offer challenge without crushing them.

25 thoughts on “Even More from Fed-Up Mom

  1. Hear hear!

    I’m in my last year of secondary school. When I leave, I’ll go to 6th form, where I get *complete free choice* of what subjects I study. You know what subject I’m best at? Maths. You know what subject I am most eager to drop? Maths.

    Believe it or not, I used to actually LIKE the subject. I liked being good at it and I liked making it work. I was put into the ‘special maths’ group, which was supposed to replace one regular maths lesson a week with higher-ability work. It was better than normal maths lessons – fewer repetitive exercises and more discussion.

    Due to the way it was timetabled, I often ended up missing something other than maths. That gave me 6 maths lessons a week instead of 5.

    Then I was put down for the investigation group. The idea was that it was ‘extra maths’ (because we were supposed to have the same amount as everyone else without it) for the kids who were exceptionally good at it. That was timetabled so that we missed different things, and the sesions were twice a week.

    That’s 8 maths lessons a week instead of 5. In addition to this, we had to do board work every morning, which was easier maths that was supposed to help us revise things we’d done before (like times tables or easy problems). I would REGULARLY spend the ENTIRE day doing nothing but maths – and none of this was optional.

    I enjoyed maths for the first two years of secondary school. It was the only subject we were set for in the first year, and since I’m generally a good student and had done the higher ability work in primary school, I found it was the only one that was at the right level for me. I was also *not* being forced into doing any more maths than anyone else! The only bad thing about it was that we spent most of the time working out of textbooks, but so many lessons are like that that it made no difference.

    In the 3rd year, they told the entire set that we had to start the GCSE that year (as opposed to in year 10) and then do additional maths in year 11. No option was given and the sizeable number of people who tried to opt out anyway still ended up doing it. Cue another three years of maths, maths, extra maths and more maths, desperately trying to take the exams a year ahead of everyone else. Wonder why I don’t enjoy the subject?

    I’m dropping maths at the first possible opportunity. My brother is also good at maths but was mistakenly put on the special needs register because he has bad handwriting (he has no learning disorder or anything of any kind and has never been tested for one) which exempted him from all the extra maths groups. He’s doing it at uni. What does that tell you?

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  2. Thank you, Fedup Mom! I coudn’t agree more. In fact, this is a letter that I could have written myself! Both of my daughters are in the GT program and I can relate to everything that you have written. What I find amazing is that most parents of GT kids –presumably intelligent, well-educated and well-intentioned — actually applaud what the schools are doing to our kids and equate mounds of busywork with actual learning…and acceptance into Ivy League schools as the ultimate measure of achievement. But until we can get other parents to question their own goals for their child’s education and the questionable means with which they are achieved, how can we expect the “system” to ever change?

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  3. Fairfax Mom, I gotta talk to you! We’re in the same area and the same boat. May I contact you? Would you be willing to give Sara Bennett your email address?

    The homework overload in those GT Centers is completely out of control.

    Thanks!

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  4. Fed-Up Mom,
    Is the Quaker school working out for your daughter? What is the homework situation there? My kids go to a Quaker school in the suburbs of Philadelphia. On the whole I am satisfied. But my 5th grader recently has been given the copy-the-definition-of-the-word-out-of-the-dictionary-homework. So, sometimes it’s spotty. I’m also curious which Quaker school you chose and why, as there are so many in our area. May I contact you?

    I really enjoyed your posts. You sound like a tremendous anti homework advocate!

    thanks!

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  5. Fern — your letter is a sad one. I hope you can reconnect with your talent.

    We have gained absolutely nothing if we cause our bright kids to drop out of their best subject.

    Honestly, if the young Michelangelo showed up in our schools today they’d be forcing him to do paint-by-number until he never wanted to see a paintbrush again.

    FairfaxMom — I have mixed feelings about the parent question. Are there parents out there who support the status quo? Sure there are, and those are the ones we all run into at the PTA. But the bottom line is that parents don’t run the schools, and parents aren’t consulted or listened to in any serious way. We don’t know the answer to the question, how many parents are worried about what’s going on and would like to try a different approach? I’d like to find out.

    QuakerSchoolMom — yes, the Quaker school has been much better, though not perfect. DD1 is now in the last year at her school, and we’re applying to other Quaker schools for 7 through 12. DD2 will either stay at the Q school where she is now, or go to a Montessori school. You’ll notice I’ve pretty much given up on our local “good” public schools.

    I am so interested in communicating with you! Please ask Sara for my e-mail address.

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  6. Hey Homework Blues — Sara has my e-mail, so please do contact me. I am looking forward to the conversation — it’s hard to find like-minded parents in Fairfax!

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  7. RE: “What do gifted kids really need? They need free­dom. They need a chance to develop their own inter­ests at their own pace.”

    I write and edit educational materials, and I’m currently working on a program for gifted students. It sickens me, for three reasons. First, in the interest of engaging students in what the program authors seem to believe is “critical thinking,” it deals largely in abstractions, and in very age-inappropriate ways. The program authors are clearly more interested in their abstractions than they are in actual students. Second, the teaching and learning model is entirely top down. There is little to no room for students to explore and develop projects around interests of their own. The affect I pick up from the program is one of emptiness, in fact, and one reason is that there’s nothing in it that corresponds with a sense that children have inner lives. And third, there’s lots of homework, of course. I worry worry worry about my 15-mo son — God forbid that he should ever be labeled “gifted” and have to put up with this stuff! And as for me, I don’t know what I’m doing anymore, working on this stuff, though as a WAHM my options are pretty limited to what I already know how to do….

    Thanks, FedUp Mom and Sara, for all you’re doing as I feel my way toward what is best for myself, my son, and by extension all other children….

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  8. Rachael, you sound like how I felt when the lights went on for me when I adopted my daughter. I had no idea what the education system was like before I had a child, and in the last year, I’ve learned so much about what’s missing. It’s impossible to not get involved as far as I can tell. When you watch how quickly a baby grows and marvel at how they learn and how excited they get when they do learn, you can’t help but take a step back when they are approaching school age and be seriously terrified about what that building is going to do to that little spark. God help them if they are gifted on top of that.

    I get into a lot of tussles with my 8 year old these days with her incredibly strong sense of independence. This weekend she slept an awful lot and I wondered if she was sick …on top of growing at the speed of light (grown an inch since May)…on top of working on her school play all week….on top of the excitement about Christmas…..on top on normal routine. It’s not hard to see how stress and pressure takes its toll. I think it’s really important to keep perspective, because there isn’t much proper perspective for kids out in the world today. If we don’t do it, who will?

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  9. A few more thoughts:

    1.) It doesn’t take much for a child to be under-challenged at school. The fact is, the standards are so low that even slightly above average kids are bored.

    2.) It’s well known that truly gifted people tend to be quirky and idiosyncratic. They were the same as children. If schools are serious about helping gifted kids, they need to find a way to support quirky, nonconformist personalities (in my dreams!).

    3.) I am increasingly skeptical of the idea that schools that can’t handle bright kids are nonetheless doing a good job with average kids. It’s all part of the same package. The schools say, “we can’t handle your kid — we’re too busy teaching the other kids”, and “we can’t handle your complaints — we’re too busy responding to all the other parents’ complaints.”

    It’s like the conundrum from Alice in Wonderland, “jam yesterday and jam tomorrow, but never jam today.”

    The schools claim that they can’t address the needs of any one child, because they’re so busy with the other children. They may be busy, but not with the kids. The truth is that there are so many other demands on the teachers and administrators that the kids get short shrift. The administrators worry about test scores and the school’s reputation in the surrounding community, the teachers worry about test scores and their reputation with the principal and the other teachers. They all worry about paperwork, bureaucracy, and forms that need to be filled out. The actual kids are very low down the list.

    I had two meetings with the gifted specialist at the public school and both times the entire subject of the meeting was that the specialist had to fill out a form. And this was someone who ran an interesting program that my daughter actually liked!

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  10. Excellent, Fed Up Mom. I’ve been giving this a lot of thought. I’ll detail later about a personal interaction, a process that revolved so much around process, there was no time to actually help. School staff literally cannot see the forest for all the trees. They are so busy being bookkeepers and diligent bureaucrats, they have no time to actually serve the children, the very raisen d’etre of all that work.

    The larger question is, what are we going to do about it? Because this inept monolith gobbles up vast resources of time, space and money. At the end of the day, is it delivering? When this much homework is sent home, largely to mask gads of time wasted at school, when do parents stop, proclaim, the Emperor Has No Clothes and families (children and the families affected by it) are doing all the work!

    Teachers ,why do you want reading logs and homework so badly? For most of you, doesn’t it ever occur to you how time consuming and ultimately of such low value all those reams of paperwork are?

    If homework overload doesn’t benefit the kids and doesn’t help you be a better teacher, please allow the question — who benefits? Think this one through long and hard because it is question whose answer is long overdue. And responses such as “we’ve always done it this way” and “my boss makes me” don’t count. Because if you are resentful, you will pass on the suppressed rage to your students.

    Please answer this question. It is not meant to be snarkey, please accept in the urgent manner in which I’ve presented it. Because at the end of the day, our children need an education, not an excuse.

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  11. FedUpMom said:
    It’s well known that truly gifted peo­ple tend to be quirky and idio­syn­cratic. They were the same as chil­dren. If schools are seri­ous about help­ing gifted kids, they need to find a way to sup­port quirky, non­con­formist per­son­al­i­ties (in my dreams!).

    Society as a whole doesn’t manage quirky and idiosyncratic very well..that’s why they try so hard to get the young to conform. I’m beginning to believe that that’s part of the reason public education exists in its present (and neverending) form….to ensure that everyone thinks the same way about things and everyone learns the “acceptable” way to behave. And I’m not sure how to tackle that problem.

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  12. There’s a daycare organization, a corporation that basically franchizes outlets around North America and they pride themselves on providing facilities that are identical around the country. The idea is that no matter where you might travel too or move to, your child won’t notice a change in their daycare surroundings, though the staff may be different.

    From the few chats I’ve had with teacher-friends, and parents across Canada, public schooling is basically operating the same way. Everyone seems to read the same books, teachers present the same types of projects, the same field trips happen. So Johnny can move across the country mid school year and nary miss a beat in school. Some would say that that uniformity would be a good thing. And I suppose it would if the programs were high quality. But the whole system sounds a bit drive thru, fast foodish. The drive thru analogy fits well with our idea of the homework dilemma doesn’t it?
    And our kids with learning disabilities are the customers with food allergies, and the gifted kids…they just can’t stand junk food. They are the kids who like eating their vegetables and choose healthy snacks. I’m being silly but I think a drive thru analogy for homework, fits .

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  13. PsychMom, you are not being silly, you are being, well, brilliant. I wish you and all my new friends here Happy Holidays and Happy New Year! Let the reform begin!

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  14. Same to you, HWB. I hope that you find some peace in struggles you’re tangling with and that the New Year shines a light on a fresh path.

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  15. I’ve just found this website and I am finding it very interesting. I have an opinion that may be a little different from what I’ve read here.

    What I see in the public schools is that there is too much emphasis on teaching the individual child, in class. By this I mean when the teacher sits down with one student to address individual reading or math problems. As many of your comments show, the teacher’s time is taken up with those who are struggling, and the brighter students are left unoccupied and unmotivated.

    I think one solution would be to return to abilities-based classrooms, where the students are grouped in classes based on their abilities to do the work. In other words, the A students are together, the B students are together, etc. This is the way it was done at the private elementary school I attended. The classes for each year were determined by the previous year’s work.

    The upside is that the teacher can teach more effectively to a more narrow range of students. The downside is labeling students–one solution might be elementary homerooms with the kids rotating by abilities. By third grade our kids are rotating to different teachers for different subjects. Could they rotate in an ability-based group and have homeroom altogether?

    The teachers are squeezed from all sides–teach to the test–In Texas it’s TAKS, and then provide each individual child with meeting time during the day. It’s just too much to ask, and I believe that’s why there is so much more homework for elementary students than there was in my day.

    I think that a lot of the rote work that used to be done in class is being sent home as homework, because of these time pressures in class. I firmly believe that you have to have some boring, repetitious, rote work as part of your education. It’s called practice. Musicians do it. Artists do it. Athletes do it.

    Take handwriting for one. I remember doing handwriting practice from a workbook every day in school, probably for half an hour or so, through fifth grade. My children (5th and 1st) did very little handwriting practice. My first grader now has handwriting maybe twice a week, for 15 minutes or so. Handwriting practice is boring. Making the letters correctly over and over again is boring. But this little by little practice gets your fingers to hold the pencil correctly and helps you learn spacing and how to write in a legible fashion. This is important!

    Take math. My fifth grader is in the GT program in our district. She’s great at math and has always gotten an “A” on her report cards. At the beginning of this school year, after seeing some disastrous “math minute” quizzes, I faced the facts: she just didn’t know her times tables well! Learning times tables is boring. Doing worksheets can be boring. Saying the times tables out loud is boring. But sometimes you’ve just got to do the boring repetitious tasks so that you can make progress.

    Our counselor, a former math teacher, says that without knowing the basics in math, the students will run into trouble in middle school when taking the advanced math classes.

    What did we do? I signed both kids up for a service (I won’t give the name) where the kids get worksheets to do every night (that’s the goal–doesn’t always happen) and then go to the tutoring session twice a week.

    It is hard. It is more homework. It is boring. But it has helped! My son’s math has improved greatly. His handwriting has improved substantially (the reading worksheets all involve writing). He’s moved up to an advanced reading level.

    My daughter’s getting better and better at multiplication. She’s learning grammar terms.

    What makes me upset is: why can’t they be doing this in school? They are there for so much of the day! I don’t want to load them up with worksheets at home–but it has helped tremendously!

    My kids go to a “semi-urban” school. They get one worksheet (math or language) Monday through Wednesday. Thursday is spelling test review. They are supposed to read for a certain amount a day. (They do anyway!) They are supposed to do “math facts” for 10 minutes a day. I think we don’t get the amount of homework that others on this site do.

    But there is still a need for what homework does–makes you practice what you’ve learned. I don’t think that all of this “practice” should be shoved on the parents at home.

    So in conclusion, are we saying the same thing? There should be less homework if the “practice” is done at school. When the “practice” isn’t done at school, you’ve got parents like me who are forced into giving more homework!

    Thanks for listening and for the very interesting website.

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  16. Interesting to hear from you GG…

    Your idea of separating the kids by ability confuses me…so what does the teacher do who has a room full of struggling kids? I see that as even more of an impediment for them. The answer, I think, is better trained teachers and smaller class sizes and stop teaching everybody the same thing!

    About handwriting …You said: But this lit­tle by lit­tle prac­tice gets your fin­gers to hold the pen­cil cor­rectly and helps you learn spac­ing and how to write in a leg­i­ble fash­ion. This is important!

    I have to disagree with you about handwriting. I’m nearly 50 years old and I have held my pen awkwardly all my life…and I have wonderful handwriting. A retired school teacher scolded me recently as she watched me write and said I should have been “cured” of this terrible ailment in Grade 1. Handwriting is not important and I dare say with the advent of the computer it becomes less so with each passing minute. Lovely handwriting seems to only be important to teachers.

    While I agree with you that work need not be downloaded onto parents, the kinds of things that you think are important..this relentless practice, may be important in one student but not all. Some kids “get it” very quickly and forcing them into endless practice only turns them off learning.

    I’d rather see all of education shift to something new…there’s a reason kids like computers and computer games. Why not use that instead of banning it. Connections between people all over the globe, problem solving skills, creativity, leading, getting along…these are the skills I’m much more interested in my child developing. Handwriting………not so much. Times tables….they’ll come ….they took years to sink into my brain…and I’ve not encountered a life and death situation yet that required me to know what 12 X 12 is. I just think there are more important things to know. Spending precious hours of childhood to learn them just doesn’t seem right somehow.

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  17. PsychMom- Great reply. I think all of the hysteria (which has always been a component of American life) of falling behind China or Japan fuels this drive to know math and science sooner, better, and faster. You make an interesting point about thinking globally. Why do we think we are in a race with China or Japan when it comes to technology? Sooner or later all technological advances span out to the whole world no matter where they originate. The U.S.A. used to be the only country to build cars. Eventually, other countries started to build them as well. No monopoly lasts forever (except government institutions).

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  18. Hmm .. I’ll come in somewhere in the middle of this discussion. I do think there’s a place for practice, which can sometimes be boring but necessary.

    The amazing thing about homework is that is just as boring as practice, while not actually providing the practice the child needs. So, for instance, my daughter did all her assigned math homework for years without actually getting the multiplication tables. Similarly, I find myself teaching grammar terms to my daughter, after discovering that she had gotten to the 6th grade, with good marks, without really understanding what a verb is.

    The compromise I’m making at the moment is that I’m spending the big bucks to send my daughter to schools where she can be happy, comfortable, and not too stressed out. But I find myself supplementing quite a bit to make sure she also gets an education.

    I agree with PsychMom that handwriting is no longer an essential skill. Typing *is* an essential skill, but the school didn’t teach that either. I’m planning to teach my daughter touch-typing over the summer.

    PsychMom, you’re in Canada. I should explain what an American public school classroom looks like. We’re big on “full inclusion”, which “mainstreams” learning-disabled kids into regular classrooms. An elementary school classroom will be “balanced”, which means a couple of gifted kids, a couple of learning-disabled kids, and a couple of behaviour-problem kids, plus a whole bunch of other kids, up to 30 per classroom. Then you’ve got one harried teacher in charge. You can imagine how much attention the gifted kids get. This is where the calls for tracking come from.

    Oops — gotta go — more later.

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  19. Hi everyone,

    Just read your comments today. It’s great to have a forum to discuss things like this, without feeling like the weird or “cranky” mom!

    I didn’t mention grammar in my previous post, but like FedUpMom was surprised to find out that at the end of the 4th grade my daughter didn’t know what a noun or verb was. Her fifth grade teacher is trying to introduce some of the grammar concepts this year, after parents complained that when the kids get to our middle school, they are not prepared as well as kids from the other feeder schools.

    We are immersed in a writing program that doesn’t “stop the flow” of words for correct grammar. After the first draft, the students “peer-edit” each others’ papers. Then the teacher looks at it, but doesn’t “grade” it.

    I love that they are writing and that they enjoy writing. I understand the concept of not stopping the flow by marking up the papers with red marks. I just want them to learn some grammar rules too! I kept seeing good marks on the report card, and assumed that grammar was being covered.

    I’m sure you’ll tell me that I am even farther behind-the-times on this and that grammar isn’t necessary either. I even wish they still taught sentence diagramming! It’s a visual way to understand the parts of a sentence, but I know I’m a dinosaur on that concept.

    I wonder if in the rush to standardized testing for every grade, we’ve lost some of the concept of “building blocks.” In other words, you learn grammar and multiplication tables (and for me, handwriting!) little by little each year (in school–not through homework!), so by the end of your elementary years you really know the basics about spelling, grammar, math facts, etc.–rather than let’s cram a few grammar rules (like its versus it’s) in the kids right before the TAKS test and then never mention it again.

    Like FedUpMom, my daughter has been doing her math homework and getting A’s on report cards, but somehow hadn’t mastered those times tables. So I’m glad we are helping her learn them well now, before middle school.

    So, if kids are doing so much homework to reinforce concepts from school, and parents stop the kids from doing homework, what happens? Is the time in school really all taken up with test prep? Will they really learn the concepts? What if you are assuming they are learning the basics like math facts and grammar because they are getting good grades, and then find out that they aren’t?

    I’m worried because the middle school we are zoned to has a reputation for enormous amounts of homework. There is a Gifted/Talented track for students there, with more projects than worksheets, but still a lot of homework.

    All I remember from my middle school days was that was when I was reading a new book every couple of days. I don’t remember much homework at all!

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  20. GG asks:

    ****
    So, if kids are doing so much home­work to rein­force con­cepts from school, and par­ents stop the kids from doing home­work, what hap­pens?
    ****

    In my experience, most of the homework my daughter has gotten doesn’t help her learn anyway. So I don’t feel that I’m taking a lot from her education when she doesn’t do it, or rushes through it so as to have time for something more useful.

    As for grammar, at my daughter’s current school, the teacher just started going on about nouns, verbs, and adjectives. Like a lot of kids, my daughter didn’t want to be the one to raise her hand and say she didn’t know what they were. So I taught her that at home. But I wonder what the rest of the kids are doing.

    I have become increasingly concerned about the basics that my daughter hasn’t quite mastered. I agree about the building blocks. It seems like the schools just demand more and more advanced work at younger and younger ages, without providing the intermediate steps that the kids need. So parents and tutors have to take up the slack.

    One difference in attitude among parents writing comments could be due to the difference in their kids’ ages. When my child was 6, I wasn’t so worried about the basics. I was more worried about stress and overwork. But now my child is 12, and while I still worry about stress and overwork, I am also worried about whether my daughter is really getting a solid education.

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  21. I love your comments GG..

    When teens communicate with messages that have no vowels…you have to start to wonder how important neat handwriting, spelling and grammar are….I still correct my 8 year olds spelling and grammar but it’s clearly my own compulsion driving it. That endless need to be correct. And where did I get my compulsions from?….elementary public school. All I’m saying is that having recognized that I engage in these behaviours because I like to be right, I have a different viewpoint now on having my child trained to be the same. I want her to think…not be right. There’s not much gain in being right…really there isn’t. But that’s not how I was raised. I was raised that being right was worth more than being wrong, and further, to look down on those who were wrong. It’s better to be right.

    Homework comes from an old belief system that idle hands are the devil’s work. And it’s not just the children who are being referred to…parents who are not “involved” in their children’s homework are less than good parents. The education system as it is right now sets up divisions at every opportunity..and it’s time for it to stop.

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  22. To FedUpMom:

    I went into the world of school with that concern, the one about a solid education. But now, I question myself as to what a “solid” education is. Aren’t we wanting to prepare our kids for the future world they will be living in? I find I can’t even use my own education as a guide post because I used a portable typewriter to do my thesis.
    Increasingly, other adults look at you strange if you correct spelling or grammar, as clearly I’m missing the “big picture” of whatever it is we’re looking at. It’s not relevant anymore. Twenty -five years ago, people still changed their sandwich boards outside immediately if you sat down in their restaurant and commented on Caesar not being spelled Ceasar…not so much anymore. And really…so what?

    I don’t know what the answer is to the “solid” education idea. But I know they have to be able to read to get on in the world…and reading logs and Novel study are killing the love of that for my kid. She’s turning into a drone already just to get the stuff done.

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  23. PsychMom — I go back and forth on all these issues all the time. There was a time when English spelling was not yet standardized, but everyone managed OK. Maybe we’re going back to that system.

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  24. We also live in the Phila. suburbs and would love to exchange emails with you personally. Please have Sara pass it on to you. Your experiences are so familiar. We have gone through them with my son who is now 16. My daughter is in 5th grade, and she is now experiencing what my son went through. We are not looking forward to her going through the same academic experience he went through. At least, he is not responsible for homework while he is in high school. I really look forward to hearing from you.

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