I have a major problem with this new initiative by the frummies to abandon HW. I think that HW is a necessity in order to achieve a decent education, especially since most of the B'Y schools really don't give that much HW in the first place. For elementary I was at a Public School. The amount of HW I had was intense. Starting 3rd grade, I had about 1 book report a month. Aside from that, there was spelling, math and Reading HW's, and some other random projects (art, music, etc) I was loaded with work. I wrote my first research paper, not in 12th grade like most B"Y girls but in 4th grade. I even remember the topic -Canada. It had to have a bibliography, and at least 3 sources. By 8th grade I had already written so many papers, that I had lost count. Then I went to private school...
I went to private school and I expected life to be hell. HS generally had a reputation of being chaotic and nuts, and since I was an "outsider" and very limited in my knowledge of hebrew subjects, I assumed I'd have no social life outside of the classroom. However, the naive atmosphere of the frum community made life relatively simple. I took a "skills" chumash class, and a few other "dumb" classes. Hey- I needed them, and I'm secure enough to admit it.
My chumash teacher was the principal of the school. When she found out I came from PS, she automatically gave me less HW than the rest of the class and she gave me modified exams. I was thrilled! Afterall, this was a free pass not to study and do very little HW. At first, I was happy with this, but then I realized, that she was actually preventing me from achieving my full potential. How was I supposed to reach my full potential if I was not in a situation in which I was able to compare myself too others? What was an A if nobody else in the class was taking the same exam as I was? What's an A mean? If I received a D on the test the entire class took, I'd at least know that it was most probably a "fair" exam the teacher made relative to the class material covered. If I recieved an A on a random test, was the test extra easy, or was it really an "educated" test that was meant to truly measure what I learned, and I happened to learn all the material excellently? Life is about learning the material...and on a BROAD range. Someone with few skills, starts on a low-level, and then as he gains more skills, he is promoted. But he is constantly judged by comparison.
Life is tough. School is meant to prepare students for real life. By babying it's students, schools aren't doing them any favors. Babying will only leave students unprepared for the work force, and the competitiveness of the "real world." Homework is the opportunity to learn and retain information on our own. HW allows us the freedom to study on our own terms, and not worry about fellow students interrupting us. As much as I hated, and still hate HW assignments, they are very important and are an integral part of the life of a young adult.
"Life's tough...wear a helmet"
~Eric Matthews (boy meets world)
Stay tuned... my next post will be my rant about an article in the Jewish Press about how Prospect elementary gave up HW 2-nights a week!