Monday, March 19, 2007

Report Cards and it's almost Spring (really?)

Well, C's report card came today. As the teacher had hinted on the phone earlier, it was very positive (only 3's and 4's--1-4 scale, and S's and E's) and they only had warm fuzzy things to say about him. Not that he doesn't deserve the highest marks for his academic achievements (though I suspect he'll be getting some N's for his handwriting neatness in the not-so-distant future, like I did in elementary school).

But it is interesting that they haven't noticed that he gave up doing homework for Lent. Well, actually it's been since some point in January that he hasn't done ANY homework. Most weeks he gets a packet with four assignments for M-Th, that consist of practicing writing spelling words and "word family" words, a math worksheet or two, and some other worksheet. He originally went on strike about the spelling words (he hated writing them each three times, then sentences), and since Sarah had just read--and I skimmed and made her summarize--Alfie Kohn's masterful The Homework Myth: Why Our Kids Get Too Much of a Bad Thing, we couldn't really see a good reason to force him to into it, or any of the other homework when he decided to just start recycling the whole packet each week.

Especially in elementary school, the idea that kids who are doing fine in school need to routinely do homework nearly nightly seems ridiculous, especially after reading Kohn's research and arguments. I can see why an occasional special project can't be done on class time, or why students who are really struggling to learn the basic concepts might need extra guidance or tutoring at home, but not C at this point, not this year. As most of you know we already have a fairly tenuous attitude towards public school (we plan to take it year by year, and reserve the plan to pull him out for homeschooling at any point it seems like the costs are outweighing the benefits), so it will be interesting to see what happens when at some point his teachers start keeping track of who is doing homework (assuming they care more than we do). Right now the students are responsible for putting their homework in the bin to be corrected, and then it gets put back in their mailboxes upon checking, and the students empty their own mailboxes into their folders to bring home.

In other news, we enjoyed hosting our monthly potluck on Friday. While it had been warm and melty and spring was springing a couple days before, Friday looked a lot like this instead. Four families still ventured out, and we had fun helping shovel and push cars afterwards to get them back home again. The weekend ended up offering up two more potlucks, so we now have a new record of 3 evening potlucks in a row, with essentially the same crowd... Reminds me of the mealshare situation we liked so much when we lived in Seattle, and had shared meals 6 nights per week.

I'll be going to Maine for a mentoring conference this weekend for work. Too bad the accommodations are so crummy :). It does mean a lot of driving, though...

C has his school science fair tomorrow night. We should have pictures/tales to share from that soon.

Enjoy the Spring Equinox tomorrow. The birds here are doing their best to pretend that the snow doesn't exist. Maybe it won't continue to for much longer.

peace,
Dan

4 comments:

Collette said...

Regarding homework: I was a good little soldier and did it religiously until about 3rd grade, then stopped because I was so bored anyway. I started handing in short stories and other "non-approved" stuff and a letter was sent home. Oh well. Throughout high school I think I took home books one night a week (usually my French homework), and still managed to rank 3rd in my class of 177 with all AP classes. Go figure.
My nephew and his wife ventured out during the snow to make me a great-aunt. EEK! I'm getting old. I guess I'll have to start my own blog soon, though it'll be fairly dull, I imagine.
Enjoy your trip!

Aunt Maureen said...

I agree with you on the homework situation. When I was still teaching, some parents asked for homework. For the most part, these were the parents of children who didn't need any extra practice. They were also the more creative parents & children who could develop appropriate activities for themselves. I tried to individualize suitable "homework" for these students, but the process was not easy. There were students who needed extra practice, & some parents were very cooperative about doing this or finishing work that needed to be done. Unfortunately, there were quite a few parents who had zero interest in what happened in school & refused to help in any way. It will be interesting to see if anyone catches on to C's scheme. I did not assign something unless I was going to check it.

Marley said...

I'm so sad you have to stay in such a horrible place!

Sarah said...

I suspect that the homework is designed mstly for the satisfaction of parents who think it's an important component of a competitive school. It's really sad for me to imagine the struggles so many kids/ parents are probably already going through over first-grade homework, when clearly not even the teacher thinks it's important! (She didn't mention it at our conference yesterday, so I suspect it's still gone unnoticed. It used to be corrected and returned, so they do look at it, but they must not record it.)