Sunday, December 16, 2007

No Homework - Two Days A Week

This is an article from the Jewish Press. My rants are in italics.

No Homework- Two Days A Week

Homework, like everything else in our world, has become inflated and more complex over time.
Really? I mean, if this is the case than how come everyone is constantly complaining that this country's education is going down. It can't be both ways. Either HW is getting more complex (which implies the material the HW is covering is more complex) or the education IS really going down, and we choose to whine about HW because it's a good distraction from the many "crises" currently inflicting the frum community.
Schools grapple with the need to cram more learning into an already long school day, and homework seems like an attractive opportunity for reinforcing new material.
Once, homework was a few minutes' review of that day's learning, and children were expected to do it by themselves. parents were not meant to do most of the work. But for most families this is exactly what happens. Ok, firstly, aside from projects and book reports hw IS supposed to be about review. I asked people and they never had only a "few minutes" and they DID do it on their own. I know I had ALOT of HW throughout my school years, my parents HELPED me, never ever did they do the HW for me. If parents do the HW for the kids, they are sucky parents, because not only are the hindering the child's ability to develop independence and gain knowledge, but they're also avoiding their children by having to add HW to their list of choirs.
Mrs. A. Klestzick, principal of Bnos Leah Prospect Park Yeshiva Elementary School and its Menahel Rabbi Leib Kelman are dedicated to tackling and solving the homework dilemma. How hard is it, tell the parents to make the kids do their own HW, and stop feeling bad for the kids, they get to sing songs in school all day, HW is the only time real material is covered anyway!
They recognize the need for children to have downtime, playtime, and family time. You want more downtime? Make the school day shorter. More playtime? Make the school day shorter. More family time? HW CAN be family time, what better way to bond than over something intellectually stimulating?
HaRav Matisyahu Salamon, shlita, in a talk to staff when he visited the school, spoke in favor of reducing homework. He stated that homework had turned the parent/child relationship upside down. Once again, try turning HW into a bonding experience. Helping kid with fractions? Use their 4 other siblings as the "4 piece pie" and if one kids goes and helps mommy with the laundry, how many kids are left?
The ideal Torah'dige relationship is where children look to help parents, not where parents need to help children every night. Firstly, find me a passuk, or don't call it "Torah'dige". My sister and I constantly recieved help from our parents. My dad is better at history, and he helped clarify the accuracy of my essays, while my mom had more patience to explain and help with the maths/sciences. My parents usually went overboard with the "helping" by making us read a few chapters ahead in our books, so this way we are ahead in class and can snatch a few points by participating in the class discussions. I know I personally used to, and still do help my mom alot when it comes to housework, and I think that "studying" together actually bonded us even more than any form of housework or "fieldtrip" we could've gone on had I had homework-free nights. Reducing homework would restore the normal relationship between parent and child. Come to think of it, over the summer, when I had no HW at all, I didn't help my mom any more than usual. In fact, my mom used to buy books that were geared for homeschooled children. Every night after work, she used to come home and make my sister and I study from them. Apparently, all this time, we had an "upside down" relationship.
New guidelines have been put into place this year at Prospect Park Yeshiva to translate this novel idea into reality. Tuesday nights are now off-limits for written assignments and teachers cannot assign any homework, written or otherwise, on Thursday nights. These preliminary efforts have yielded outstanding results; students and parents are breathing a sighs of relief. Yea, now they don't have to pay for TiVo to record all the shows they normally miss on those days, which also frees up their motzei shabbos's because now they don't have to spend each and everyone of them making up the Tuesday/Thursday TV. Seriously, what else would they be doing tuesday nights?? on Thrusday nights, alright, preparing for shabbos, but what's a tuesday? It's the most ignored day of the week- except for when Gilmore Girls was on air. ;)
The new policy requires that teachers and parents change their attitudes towards homework. Teachers are restructuring their lessons and materials to comply with the new homework rules- and parents are learning not to measure the quality of education by the quantity of homework assignments.
Both teachers and parents are satisfied with the positive outcome of this initiative.
One parent called Mrs. Klestzick to compliment her on initiating the new homework policy. What are the chances it wasn't just that the mother felt she needed to suck up, to help gain "brownie points" because an older daughter of hers is looking for a shidduch, and needs all the thumbs up she can get? "Could you please tell other schools about this?" she asked. "It's the greatest thing that's happened to my family." Definitely beats the fact that she had kids to begin with, huh?

Basically i think that this will never work. The teachers aren't going to "reconstruct" anything. If they'll need to give HW, they'll just wait till Wednesday night to do it. Well...its Prospect after all...they need to do something to fix their declining reputation.


Frum Librarian said...

I think this whole thing is ridiculous. My kids are not at the homework stage yet, but in the library I do a LOT of homework help, and I can tell how much kids benefit from the review of the day's classwork. I think this is the parents being too lazy or having misguided perceptions about what is time well spent. They'd rather not sit down and help kids with HW, so they want it taken away. Also, until a child is an adult, the parent absolutely has an obligation to help them- it's called CHINCUH! You are supposed to guide your children, teach them right from wrong, and help them with the hard stuff. That is child rearing,and it is not always easy. Sorry, getting really worked up about this now!

Anonymous said...

I'm so glad I already pulled my daughter from that school. I'm all for child rearing, and I'm not abdicating my parental responsibility no matter how much the school wants me to!

flatbush gal said...

I hated when all the other kids got help from their parents. I always had to do the work myself and these dumb kids looked so much smarter than me because their PARENTS did it for them. Alot of my friends suffered from this too. Our projects always looked like no effort went into em because it was done by a fifth grader not some adult! My friend and I were recently discussing the resentment we felt throughout elementary school. We worked so hard but came off bad because we did all the work on our own. grr. No wonder these parents feel so darn blessed on tuesdays and thursdays THEY are the ones who have no homework.

The 1:45 anonymous said...

I spoke to a PPY morah who knows my daughter is now in another school. She (the morah) is very unhappy about the new policy. She's already been giving the girls time to start their homework at the end of each period, but now that's not enough...

frumskeptic said...

I dont understand why R' Kelman is doing this. Its not like he needs to please parents to run for office. Its his school!
It really is ridiculous. and I have nothing to do with it, which makes it even more so ridiculous. I'm so fed up with this dumbing down of education, that i think that one day, when I do have my own kids, I'll just homeschool them.

the 1:45 anonymous said...

"Please parents" -- which ones? Almost all the ones with kids in the lower grades are ignoring what he says re: "frummer than you" rules, so why should they listen to this one?