Friday, April 27, 2012

Is Your Child a Victim of Unreasonable School Homework?

I read a mother's complaint on the forum, her girl did badly in a spelling test recently and the girl was given the following homework to be finished by the next day:
1) 110 words correction 5 times each, that will be 550 words
2)  5 dictations (consisting 5 sentences for each dictation) correction 10 times each, assuming 6 words in a sentence, that will be 300 words.

The girl was given 200 words to learn, and each week the teacher would choose 10 words from the list for the spelling test. In that particular week, the student was given words from list 100-110 to learn. Unfortunately the girl was not doing well in that test and she was asked to do correction from words no 1 to 110.

In total, that would add up to approximately 1000 words to be completed at night, this does not include homework from her other subjects.

This is a very typical way of punishment given by our school teachers nowadays.  I'm sad to hear the complaint, and this shows that we still have low standard teachers in the schools despite the money spent by government to improve their quality.

If you are a teacher reading this post, I hope you think about the objective of spelling test and the purpose of giving homework. Does writing 10 times of a word really make you remember that word? If this really work, I guess everyone of us can be a PHD or Master. The fact is, it doesn't work this way. No one would like to repeat doing something again and again, I'm sure many of you have the experience where you were copying words repeatedly in primary school, the first few looked nicer than the last few, or the first few were correct while the last few were wrong. 

If a student can remember a word by writing it just 3 times, what is the purpose of forcing them to write 10 times?

If you recall, you probably remember how excited you were when you had school homework the first time, and probably finished it within a short time. But very soon, school homework became your burden or even an obstacle in your study. And now, our children are facing the same issue.

A person can only excel in something if that person has the interest in it. The point here is "interest", ask yourself what were your favourite subjects when you were in school? Or what were your most disliked subjects? And you will realise that the subjects that you did well were the subjects of your interest, and you probably had many reasons why you didn't like a certain subject, and the reasons probably include the way the teacher handled that particular subject.

Treat your child as a human, and not superpower hero or immortal. Many times, parents are aware that the homework given by the school teachers are ridiculous and yet, other than complaining in front of the child, they probably will ensure the child finish the work on time. This is how contradicting our mindsets are.

I have read from a  book and these are what the author did when her child were facing the same issue:
1) She asked the child to write and remember the words, and stop writing once she think she can remember the words.
2) When her child told and showed her she could remember the words, she told her to stop writing.
3) She complete the rest of the writing for her.

Generally these are her arguments:
1) Her daughter would try to remember the words in order not to copy the words so many times, and that was more effective in remembering the words than making her to write the words again and again.
2) By helping her daughter to finish the work, her daughter would have time for other more meaningful activities, e.g. reading her favourite books.

3) She wanted to preserve the interest of her daughter in learning, and all these unfinished homework or punishments would only deter the child from learning better.
4) She would find a chance to talk (or chat) with the teacher, but confronting the teacher would only make the situation worse. 
5) Some might thought that this would spoil the child, but in fact, the daughter would  not rely on her to complete her homework, she only requested it when she faced unreasonable homework.

Note: The daughter of the author achieved very good results and was voted the best student (character) in Beijing and she was accepted by a few well known universities at the age of 16. She is currently studying in Qing Hua University of China.

When I read the book above, I was hesitating whether I would do the same as the author, and I thought this kind of unreasonable homework will not happen in Singapore. But after reading the complaint from the mother, I think I might have to reconsider.

No doubt that we should respect all the teachers, but teachers are human too, there are good and bad teachers for certain. Respect does not mean we should follow or listen to their advice blindly, we should explain this to our children and told them to accept the  imperfection of the teachers and assist them on handling all the possible issues arose from it.

If communication to teacher or school is impossible, I guess helping our children to complete the homework might really be the last resort.


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