Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Parental Homework: An Odious Notion

Parental homework.

Quite the oxymoron.

Parents already do homework. Their homework includes: Taking care of the home and everyone who lives in it and the oh-so-small task of earning a living. Most parents have already logged their time sitting at school desks, completing math assignments and taking vocabulary tests. Additionally, some parents have taken years of college courses and, some have even completed master’s or PhD-level work. They don’t need any “extra,” compulsory homework from their children’s teachers just to make sure they’re paying attention to what their kids are doing in school.

There are certain obligations that fall under the job description of being a child such as, listening to your parents, making your bed and going to school. And there are certain responsibilities which fall under the description of being a parent, such as the ones mentioned above, which, by the way, do NOT include doing homework with your children because doing schoolwork is the students’ job, and the kids need to learn how to complete their own homework because, years down the road in college, they’re going to need to do it without Mommy and Daddy hovering around. Sure, the parent is around to check a grade school, middle school or high school student’s homework, to offer suggestions, to trouble-shoot and such, but the parent is not there to do work alongside one’s child.

That being said, when I read this article in the New York Times about a New Jersey high school teacher who assigns the parents of his teenaged students homework -- including requiring that they complete reading assignments -- I, as a parent, took umbrage. “The ninth graders complete their assignments during class; the parents are supposed to write their responses on a blog Mr. Frye started online,” the Times reported. “If the parents do not comply, Mr. [Damion] Frye tells them, their child’s grade may suffer — a threat on which he has made good only once in the three years he has been making such assignments.”

The article continued:
“The point, he said, is to keep parents involved in their children’s education well into high school. Studies have shown that parental involvement improves the quality of the education a student receives, but teenagers seldom invite that involvement. So, Mr. Frye said, he decided to help out.

‘Parents complain about never getting to see their kids’ work,’ he said. ‘Now they have to.’”
(Can you imagine what it would be like if every one of your children’s several high school teachers pulled a stunt like this, assigning parents homework?)

When did we reach the point when a student’s work also became parents’ work as well? Of course parents are responsible for their children’s behavior, including what the kids do in school. That’s a no-brainer. But do parents really need some patronizing young teacher assigning them (under threat of having the children’s grades suffer) a Walt Whitman poem, one that the parent probably read back in an undergraduate English class? I think not. I have enough adult work to tackle, thank you very much.


suchsimplepleasures said...

After all of my work is done around the home, i assign myself homework, which is called...BEDTIME!!!
I enjoy your blog. I just discovered it while surfing blogher. I am looking forward to finding more time for reading your other posts!
Take Care,

Dorene said...

Unbelievable. I can only imagine what will be expected when my children start school in a few years. Sure it makes sense to be involved in your childrens life and encourage them to learn. But assignments for partents? That is more than a few steps over the line.