(I’ve given FedUpMom, who has written several guest entries in the past, free rein to speak her mind for the past three days here on stophomework. Today is her fourth post. If you’d like that opportunity, too, please email me.)
Guest Post #4
by FedUp Mom
How the Homework Got Done
“The schoolmaster who imagines he is loved and trusted by his boys is in fact mimicked and laughed at behind his back.”
— George Orwell, “Such, Such Were the Joys”
“Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares” is a TV show wherein Gordon Ramsay, a famous chef, travels around to failing restaurants and attempts to whip them into shape. A recurring theme is the absolute cluelessness of the failing chef. “But the customers love this!” he’ll say, as he’s ladling up some revolting slop. “I’ve never had any complaints!” Gordon Ramsay points out, correctly, that most people don’t bother to complain; they vote with their feet, and simply never return.
I wish the bad chef could hear what his customers really say about his food. Similarly, I wish every teacher could hear what her students, and the students’ parents, say behind her back. I wish they could see how the homework actually gets done.
For instance, my older daughter recently came home with an assignment from the school librarian. It consisted of 20 random factual questions (e.g., “what year was the first World Series game?”), of which my daughter was supposed to answer 15. She was only allowed to get help for 10 of the questions, and each person who helped was only allowed to help with 1 question. She was supposed to find the answers in almanacs or dictionaries, not the internet. If she answered all 20 questions correctly, she could win some contest (dd: “I don’t care about the contest!”) My daughter was very tense and worried about how she could manage all this.
Naturally, I told her that what the librarian doesn’t know won’t hurt her. We then spent a few minutes answering the questions by looking them up on the internet. I personally haven’t opened an almanac in many years, and it isn’t because I don’t look things up.
When my daughter turns in her answers, the librarian will think her assignment worked. That is, unless she reads the stophomework blog.
Now, I could have gone in and complained, and I still might. But like the dissatisfied diners, sometimes I’m just looking for a quick exit.