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Saturday, March 21, 2015

Homework: One Teacher’s Perspective

(These are my own thoughts and do not reflect that of my employer.)

This week was a bit demanding for an older lady of a certain delicate constitution. I’m a gentle soul who baulks at tiresome interruptions to my meticulous routine and this week some thorny spokes were placed in the well-oiled schedule of the hamster wheel I like to call, work.

Firstly, horror of horrors, I had to stay back on Monday night for parent teacher interviews. I didn’t arrive home until 8:00pm and was in a pernickety, spiteful mood after a thirteen hour day. I swept past Scotto and swiftly flounced up the stairs to my bed chambers to straight away apply a cold, soothing compress on my temples.

I’d missed wine time you see and was in no mood for idle pleasantries.

This very Saturday morning, I was once more put upon to attend a five hour seminar at school, instructing we teachers on the art of teaching spelling.

How dare they steal away one’s treasured private weekend hours of freedom, only to fritter them away by forcing one to listen to an accomplished speaker wax lyrical on the value of raising the phonemic awareness of one’s students.

The hyde of them!

"You watch out!" I warned anyone who'd listen. "Next, they'll be harvesting our blood!" 

But my ominous predictions fell on deaf ears.

The worst part was that, as I rarely read tedious emails or listen attentively in dreary briefings, I missed the latter part of the instruction that we were to meet in the library at 8:30am (for 9:00am).

You can imagine how acrimoniously pissed off I was as my car, Golden Boy, glided into the car park precisely at 8:29am this morning and I trotted breathlessly into the staffroom at 8:29:52am with a rosy glow and a sense of glorious triumph and then sourly discovered I hadn’t needed to be at the fudging school for another fudging, thirty, fudging minutes.


Lee-lee, Kyles, Shazza and Kaz!

I was beyond consolation at losing my sleep-in opportunity. 

The girls didn't help by acting all chirpy and bubbly because they’d just finished boot camp and were shiny, showered and fully awake whilst I was still half-way through my dream about Jon Hamm when the alarm had rudely awaken me and I’d bundled myself into the bathroom staggering and swearing in a manner akin to Albert Steptoe. 

But the point of this post relates more to a recurring theme which cropped up in my parent teacher interviews.

Almost all of the parents I spoke to made it clear, in no uncertain terms, they hated homework. Their kids hated homework, the family dog hated homework as it always seemed to end up getting the blame for homework gone AWOL and the parents hated the intrusion on the tranquility of their after school activities, what with having to threaten their kids with a horse whip and all if they didn't sit down and write out their bloody times tables and spelling words every afternoon.

The artless reply I supplied to all of my student’s parents was this: most teachers hate homework too.

Teachers are the innocent chumps who have to set the homework, mark it and keep students in during one of their own precious lunch times to make them do it again if the family bull mastiff conveniently ingested it or they merely forgot to do it. 

I’d much rather be supping on a cup of sweetened tea from my favourite, stolen cup in the teacher’s lounge than pretending to be Mrs. Grumpy in a room full of dejected children staring out at the playground where their cohorts are hanging upside down on the play equipment and screaming louder than should be humanly possible.

Tea just tastes better from Kyle's cup for some reason.

Homework is an exercise to enable the practise of the previous week’s newly learned concepts. 

Whether it’s necessary in the primary school I’m not sure. However, reading with young children is highly beneficial and should never be skipped.

The decision on whether or not to set homework doesn't originate from the Mussolini-minded teacher; it’s usually a blanket policy covering an entire school district created by a nameless boffin who hasn't set foot in a classroom since colour television was introduced in Australia in 1975.

If we put it to a referendum I’d get rid of it too.

What are your views on homework?