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Parents Fight Legal Battle For Less Homework

samzenpus posted more than 4 years ago | from the no-more-pencils-no-more-books dept.

Idle 42

Sherri and Tom Milley may be the coolest parents in the world, at least in the eyes of their children. The Milley's were tired of having to help their children with hours of homework each night so they negotiated the "Milleys' Differentiated Homework Plan" with the school. The plan, which ensures their youngest two children will never have to do homework again, was signed by the children, parents and teachers. "It was a constant homework battle every night," Sherri told Canada's Globe and Mail newspaper. "It's hard to get a weeping child to take in math problems. They are tired. They shouldn't be working a second shift."

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42 comments

This is nothing new. (1)

MadMatr07 (1278450) | more than 4 years ago | (#30161220)

When I was in fourth grade, I had trouble learning my multiplication tables. So I had to write out from 1x1 to 12x12 (144 problems) 12 times a night. That's over a 1000 math problems a night in fourth grade!

Re:This is nothing new. (2, Insightful)

WilliamBaughman (1312511) | more than 4 years ago | (#30161898)

When I was in fourth grade, I had trouble learning my multiplication tables. So I had to write out from 1x1 to 12x12 (144 problems) 12 times a night. That's over a 1000 math problems a night in fourth grade!

I'm going to put my jerk hat on and say that's 66 math problems, total. Each table of 144 entries is identical, and multiplication is commutative, so almost half of those 144 problems are identical to another problem in the table, i.e. once you have 4*6 you don't have to solve for 6*4.

I think that's the most valuable lesson you can learn from multiplication tables, that multiplication is commutative and that the answer to those problems don't change day-to-day.

Re:This is nothing new. (1)

WilliamBaughman (1312511) | more than 4 years ago | (#30162266)

I'm going to put my jerk hat on and say that's 66 math problems, total. Each table of 144 entries is identical, and multiplication is commutative, so almost half of those 144 problems are identical to another problem in the table, i.e. once you have 4*6 you don't have to solve for 6*4.

I think that's the most valuable lesson you can learn from multiplication tables, that multiplication is commutative and that the answer to those problems don't change day-to-day.

I'm going to replace my jerk hat with my "feeling stupid" hat and say it's actually 78 problems. :-/

Not even nearly 78, really (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30175768)

Your calculations count 1*x as problems. They shouldn't really be counted as such, don't you think? Even 2*x are still only x+x (where x Even that doesn't take into account that there are other really easy groups (like 10*x in which you just add the zero) or single calculations that are very easy (3*3, etc.).

When I was a kid, I had some trouble with multiplication tables too though I was taught only to 10*10. I have always been overall good at math and now study computer science but I was one of the slowest in our class when it came to multiplications. Even so, it wasn't that the whole table would have been difficult. I remember having particular problems with 7*x and 8*8 but many others (like 5*x) were very easy.

Having to write 12 by 12 table multiple times shows that the teacher just wanted the kids to memorize it completely. I don't know why, though. I don't have 11*12 memorized. If I would need to count it I would go "Well... 10*12 should be easy, then add 12 once more... Ah 132". Trying to memorize them that far seems pointless.

Re:This is nothing new. (1)

MadMatr07 (1278450) | more than 4 years ago | (#30162734)

Maybe so, but I was in fourth grade so I didn't realize that at the time. Remember, I had trouble with them. But that was still way too much work for kid that age.

Re:This is nothing new. (1)

RockDoctor (15477) | more than 4 years ago | (#30170942)

Maybe so, but I was in fourth grade so I didn't realize that at the time. Remember, I had trouble with them.

Which is part of the point of doing homework. Wondered when you'd get that.

But that was still way too much work for kid that age.

If I knew what age "4th grade" was in your country, I might agree. Guessing on it meaning about 9, that's not unreasonable. 2 to 3 hours work. If you want to make it shorter, then you get smarter. Again, that's part of the point of homework.

Re:This is nothing new. (1)

Aldenissin (976329) | more than 4 years ago | (#30171230)

Perhaps, but you know them now right? I will say that I believe there are better ways, but the greatest minds are not working on that which is most important thing for society. Without education, you can't have health and security.

Re:This is nothing new. (1)

Whorhay (1319089) | more than 4 years ago | (#30174532)

I got in trouble once doing this kind of reptitive homework. I had to write each word from a list of words a large number of times. After doing a few iterations of a word I realized it might be quicker to write the first letter for each of that particular word and then do the second and such, rather than writing out the whole word at once before going to the next iteration of that word. This way I didn't have to remember how to spell the word but instead just remember what letter I was writing. It ended up being painfully evident what I had done because my handwriting was worse in this method.

Doing things differently has always gotten me in trouble in school though. In math classes I often got chewed out for arriving at the answer in a non-conventional way. For example 99 x 99

The conventional method is:
99 x 99 = 891 + 8910 = 9801

My method might go more like this:

99 x 99 = 99 x 100 - 99 = 9900 - 99 = 9801

And while my method could take longer to write out it was simpler to keep track of in my head and always felt more intuitive. So I would just go with it and skip showing the work most of the time, which was another thing that teachers just love.

homework detracts from learning (3, Insightful)

czarangelus (805501) | more than 4 years ago | (#30161512)

the purpose of homework is just like the purpose of school. Neither of these institutions have any educational objective outside to teach a child how to be a radical conformist. I learned very little in all my years in school; in fact, the pressures of punch clock education only provided a distraction from my efforts to read every book ever written and to educate myself. The prison-camp of school, where you have to ask permission to take a piss, exists to train students to swallow the insane ravings of authority mindlessly assuming it's all for their own good. Eventually I just stopped doing any of the work, to my own betterment. I started inventing my own cirriculum and the teachers went along with it just to keep me from disrupting their lessons. I'm sorry I ever went to school in the first place, thankful I got expelled, and ecstatic that outside of the mainstream "education" system I was able to complete my high school studies in a fraction of the time and got into an excellent college despite the obstructionism of those twits on the school board.

Re:homework detracts from learning (1)

NiceGeek (126629) | more than 4 years ago | (#30164436)

"radical conformist"? How exactly does that work? Do you rebel by being like everyone else?

Re:homework detracts from learning (4, Funny)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 4 years ago | (#30167728)

No. Radical conformity is pretty much exactly like ordinary conformity; except with mirrored sunglasses and bitchin'(yet somehow generic) rock music in the background.

Re:homework detracts from learning (2, Funny)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 4 years ago | (#30167736)

Also, it is sponsored by Mountain Dew(tm).

Re:homework detracts from learning (1)

Aldenissin (976329) | more than 4 years ago | (#30171270)

These days it's the new Coke Zero(TM), with Real Coke Taste(TM).

Re:homework detracts from learning (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30178774)

"radical conformist"? How exactly does that work? Do you rebel by being like everyone else?

Did you not notice the hippies, glam, punk, gen X, gen Y and so on?

Each generation expressing their individuality in exactly the same way as all their peers.

Nice (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30161958)

This is awesome. I remember not having to do homework until middle school (70s). When my daughter started school (17 years ago), I was shocked that she brought home homework from kindergarten! She always had hours of homework every night, all through elementary school. And it was always rote bullshit. I've always hated the regurgitation is education paradigm in the US.

homework's real purpose? (2, Insightful)

prozaker (1261190) | more than 4 years ago | (#30162052)

i decided to go back to school to finish what i've begun some 3 or 4 years ago. while the school does have an interesting catalog of courses, it does leave a lot of homework.

i've never been a fan of homework, i don't really know the purpose of it, i don't think it compares to something in the real world, apart from studying for something you want to learn outside the working hours of your job. i don't see any point of doing it, most of the time its dreadful, boring, copy pasted, paper wasting, nonsense. i support the idea of assigning something for reading and then asking someone in class what was it about. apart from that i think everything should be done in the classroom.

Its hard for me to keep up going to school + working + taking care of the house, on top of that school wants to creep into my free time? ...sad

Re:homework's real purpose? (2, Interesting)

calmofthestorm (1344385) | more than 4 years ago | (#30190564)

Pretty much everything I learned in college I learned from homework. I'm with you on high school homework, it's just looking up something from a book or brute forcing through some algebra or basic calculus.

Are you people all Americans? (1)

Forty Two Tenfold (1134125) | more than 4 years ago | (#30162842)

Sure! Don't solve problems, don't read books, don't write essays.
Instead, watch some "Married, with Children" to see what you're gonna become.
Buttheads.

Re:Are you people all Americans? (1)

tacarat (696339) | more than 4 years ago | (#30166776)

Funny that the parents are Canadian. It is something I'd expect from US parents, somehow. Of course, I have disappointingly low expectations from some of my countrymen. Personally, I think the parents should have just started homeschooling. If they had that much energy to fight the system like that and "knew better", then prove it. I like the part about there being no clear connection between homework and performance at school. Lawyerifically speaking, I'm sure that's true. It's also true that there wasn't a link between sex and pregnancy until somebody decided to start taking notes on the matter.

Re:Are you people all Americans? (1)

Forty Two Tenfold (1134125) | more than 4 years ago | (#30167290)

Funny that the parents are Canadian.

I haven't made that clear, but I was actually referring to the comments above, not the article itself.

It is something I'd expect from US parents, somehow.

That's why I made that xenophobic reference - it is now common opinion that the majority of US citizens lead carefree hedonistic life. And it's nobody's fault but their own. Reading the previous comments made my head spin.

Re:Are you people all Americans? (1)

tacarat (696339) | more than 4 years ago | (#30167410)

I wasn't doubting you. My head spins too. Hell, I'll admit I have a high quality of life compared to lots of people elsewhere in the world. Nothing wrong with that, but I'm more familiar with the "ugly American" reputation over hedonistic. Very embarrassing.

Re:Are you people all Americans? (3, Insightful)

frosty_tsm (933163) | more than 4 years ago | (#30167426)

That's why I made that xenophobic reference - it is now common opinion that the majority of US citizens lead carefree hedonistic life. And it's nobody's fault but their own. Reading the previous comments made my head spin.

Homework is many things:
- Practice what was taught in class to make it familiar (Math)
- Absorbing information and analyzing it (English, History)
- Learning to teach yourself

Sure there are people who don't need all of this and just get it.

Re:Are you people all Americans? (1)

Forty Two Tenfold (1134125) | more than 4 years ago | (#30167558)

Sure there are people who don't need all of this and just get it.

Those would understand there are others who do need practice. That aside, talent is not enough.

Re:Are you people all Americans? (1)

Loki_666 (824073) | more than 4 years ago | (#30199810)

Thats probably the intention, but i think it rarely works like that. Fortunately when i was at school they were not homework crazy. However, i hear the schools near where i live now are homework crazy and i think when my kids start there i will have to lay down the law to the school.

I've heard such stories its unbelievable. Kids spending 4 or more hours a night doing homework, each class giving homework every lesson (when should the kids have free time?). Parents having to help their kids every evening (after a hard day at work) because the problems set are way too advanced for the kid.

Classic case, two parents who are both PhDs in maths had to help their kid with maths homework (because the kid didn't have a clue). Parents were amazed their kid was being given such a difficult subject for the age (something like differentiation at junior school). When the kids homework was scored the teacher marked them down (gave a 3 on a 5 point scale). I think the parents were most annoyed with being rated a 3 by someone who may not even have a degree in maths when they are PhDs.

The problem is, most schools i think do not use homework correctly, and they do not coordinate between classes so all classes are happily dishing out homework on the same nights.

Re:Are you people all Americans? (1)

nitroamos (261075) | more than 4 years ago | (#30194402)

it is now common opinion that the majority of US citizens lead carefree hedonistic life. And it's nobody's fault but their own.

The data I've seen indicates that American school children don't work as hard as their counterparts in other industrialized countries (in terms of the number of hours per year spent in school), but American workers do work more days/year because most of us aren't given 4 wk vacations like all Europeans.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_statutory_minimum_employment_leave_by_country [wikipedia.org]

and at any rate, Slashdotters are a poor statistical sample!

Re:Are you people all Americans? (4, Insightful)

frosty_tsm (933163) | more than 4 years ago | (#30167448)

Personally, I think the parents should have just started homeschooling.

This was about time, not principles. They still need someone to babysit their kids during the day.

Re:Are you people all Americans? (1)

CorporateSuit (1319461) | more than 4 years ago | (#30181434)

I like the part about there being no clear connection between homework and performance at school.

I saw an extremely clean negative correlation with assigned homework and my grades. The more assignments I was expected to do at home, the lower my grade was.

Re:Are you people all Americans? (1)

tacarat (696339) | more than 4 years ago | (#30182554)

Me too, but that's because I didn't do the homework. That, and my teachers were sexist fucks. I mean, why couldn't I get an opportunity to sleep with the instructor for extra credit? It's discrimination!

Re:Are you people all Americans? (1)

Nathrael (1251426) | more than 4 years ago | (#30192456)

Personally, I think the parents should have just started homeschooling.

Sadly, homeschooling (which has both it's advantages and disadvantages, just like "regular" school does) isn't available for everybody. I don't know how it is in the US, but here (an European country), it's a pretty expensive thing to do - it either costs you a lot of money by hiring a home teacher or a lot of time by teaching your kid yourself, and neither time nor money are too available for the majority of the working population.

Re:Are you people all Americans? (1)

tacarat (696339) | more than 4 years ago | (#30195532)

True. Somehow, though, I think two lawyers could swing the appropriate funds.

Re:Are you people all Americans? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30171800)

Seriously, shut the fuck up.

Re:Are you people all Americans? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30173394)

No, you should get your head out of your asshole.

Re:Are you people all Americans? (1)

Forty Two Tenfold (1134125) | more than 4 years ago | (#30173528)

Seriously, shut the fuck up.

A very educated remark, indeed. Chapeau bas!

usefulness of homework (5, Insightful)

jarkus4 (1627895) | more than 4 years ago | (#30170058)

I can't agree that homework is useless. It's actually a mean of forcing the children to do something they don't like to do - repeat what they learned in school. And repetitions are the only way for most people to really learn something. I'm personally skilled in mathematics and in high school I tended to skip the homework completely because I was to lazy to do it(it was mandatory, but usually wasn't enforced). With this I got around 60 - 65% in tests (it was a class with math as "specialization", so it wasn't THAT bad :D ). The few times I was actually forced to do some homework it usually raised my results up to about 80 - 85%. Also later, in my college days, I had experienced cases where simple lack of practice caused me to perform much below expectations on exams - even though I knew how to do something, I simply wasn't fast enough to complete it and other assignments in a given time.

Re:usefulness of homework (1)

RockDoctor (15477) | more than 4 years ago | (#30171024)

The few times I was actually forced to do some homework it usually raised my results up to about 80 - 85%.

From a "fail" to a "barely acceptable".

Also later, in my college days, I had experienced cases where simple lack of practice caused me to perform much below expectations on exams - even though I knew how to do something,

Which is one of the main points of the homework.

I simply wasn't fast enough to complete it and other assignments in a given time.

Well, that's another important life-skill that you've missed out on.

Re:usefulness of homework (1)

RockDoctor (15477) | more than 4 years ago | (#30171062)

Well, that's another important life-skill that you've missed out on.

OK, I admit to skipping my "closing blockquote" homework as well as the entire "preview button" class.

Re:usefulness of homework (1)

jarkus4 (1627895) | more than 4 years ago | (#30182624)

The few times I was actually forced to do some homework it usually raised my results up to about 80 - 85%.

From a "fail" to a "barely acceptable".

Just for the record: no one in the class had a consistent record of over 90% scores and it was class only for people skilled in mathematics (to get into it you had to pass an extra math entrance exam, that was much harder then normal one) . Actually on the very first test in high school only 4 people out of 29 managed to get past 50% mark. Oh, and 50% + 1 point was the minimum for passing the test.

Re:usefulness of homework (4, Insightful)

v1 (525388) | more than 4 years ago | (#30188948)

And repetitions are the only way for most people to really learn something.

There's never one "right way" to teach anything. Maybe that works best for you, but maybe not for me.

In my case, application of what I've learned, as soon as possible after learning it, is critical. I don't have any statistics atm but that's true of a LOT of people. For me anyway, the reason is I have a severely defective factual memory, and a near perfect memory for method, audio, and visual. Tell me to write down a spelling word 100x and see how far you get. Now ask me to read it aloud three times and get a surprise. Give me a list of steps to assemble something and have me study it all day long and still get it wrong. Or show me how to do it hands-on and I have it down by the second time, regardless of complexity.

The homework itself isn't useless, but when you're sending all 70 of your students home to learn the exact same way, some of the students are just getting screwed. For some, it ends up being boring, frustrating, and completely unproductive. There's a reason we have teachers, to find the best way to teach the children in their class, by whatever method works best for the student, which varies from child to child. Once you send them all home with the same assignment, you completely remove that from the equation.

Unfortunately for me, 95% of what I was sent home with when I was in school was of little or no value whatsoever, and only served to bitter my view of education in general. Even when I got back to school the next day all I got to hear was how poor the quality of my homework was, which affected my motivation to try when I was in school. I vastly preferred 6 hrs of school over 1 hr of homework.

Homework serves several purposes (4, Insightful)

davidwr (791652) | more than 4 years ago | (#30171560)

1) to do projects which are not feasable during the school day, such as interviewing family members to construct a family tree, visiting a city council meeting, etc.
2) to do necessary work the student ran out of time to do in class
3) to develop a value system that education, and by extension, adult tasks like work, are not simply an 8AM-3PM proposition.

Homework, like classwork, can be abused. Assigning meaningless drill-and-practice work to a student who has already mastered the material or telling a student to "do all the problems" when only doing a handful would suffice to achieve mastery is a waste of time.

Second Shift? Hah! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30172144)

They shouldn't be working a second shift

Ha, Ha.

Seriously, How about the second shift teachers put in? I don't wanna hear about your teacher that took a week to get back a paper or was a good for nothing...Teaching is a lot of work. Grading papers, calling parents, extra credit, discipline, etc etc...School would be a lot easier if the students wanted to learn. Yet, they are forced to deal with students who dont care and parents who also dont care.

anyone else notice the name of the school? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30172324)

Did anyone else notice the name of the school? An elementary junior high school? What's that?

This is an important win for kids (1)

Registered Coward v2 (447531) | more than 4 years ago | (#30201226)

after all, no one ever brings work home from work, learns new skills to advance outside of work, or works through a work assignment they they hate or is hard.

Yes, a lot about school sucks. So does parts of life.

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