I was reading an article in The Age this morning about the thing that is dreaded by students everywhere - HOMEWORK.
It discussed the amount of homework being given to primary and secondary school students these days, and how hard it is for some to cope. It was actually quite an interesting article. It took me back to my school days (which aren't all that far from my mind in any case, since it's supposed to be my 10-year reunion this year). And there were actually times when we were given homework for something that WAS NOT covered in class.
Back then we had prep for two hours each night, Monday to Thursday, one hour on Friday night, then another two hours on Sunday afternoon (I went to an all-girls boarding school). It wasn't enough time to get everything done, particularly when I got to grades 11 and 12. Per subject the average was an hour of homework per night (except, of course, for PE!). Now when you consider that I was studying (stretching the brain cells now) maths, english, physics, biology, computing, legal studies, and something else I can't remember, that's 7 hours of study, on average, per night. Of course, sometimes it was less, sometimes more per subject. And there were also sometimes assignments to do in addition to normal homework. Physics was always a killer for me. Both of my senior years in school I had a hard time with physics: in grade 11 it was because the teacher wasn't great, smelt bad, and had a different coloured tooth for each day of the week. It was all rather distracting. In grade 12 I had a lovely teacher, however English was far from her first or most fluent language. I found that by the time I'd worked out what she had said, then what she actually meant, she was already three sentences further along. Things like "electric-city" was really "electricity" and her exhortations to ensure we knew our "56 alphabets" was really referring to the periodic table of the elements. So physics homework always took longer. But I digress.
An ex of mine (may he rot in eternal pain in hell) has four kids (who I will remember and love and care about to my dying day). I used to try and help the two oldest, in grades four and six (both girls), with their homework. And their assignments. And I discovered that kids these days are taught to regurgitate information, not think. So I'd try to help them use their brain. That even led to us doing the puzzles in Take 5 and That's Life! together. And you know what? It actually helped them. I still remember the day when the eldest got the answer to a clue in a crossword before I did. I was so proud, so impressed, and so very happy I nearly hugged her to death. I digress, what was the original point of this paragraph.... oh yes, the fact that kids aren't really taught to use their brains these days. What on earth ever happened to reading and comprehension in lower primary school? And handwriting? And spelling? Half the problem these girls had was not being able to comprehend what they were reading. I was so proud when I taught the eldest to read something, then summarise it in her own words. And she then did an absolute kick-ass assignment about the history of the bicycle.
There's all this talk that kids these days are getting more homework, and at a younger age. I see little kids dragging a backpack half the size of them onto the train every morning. All I can say is this: I had a hard enough time coping with the amount of homework back then (and let's not think about my uni study... 24 contact hours per week, at least twice that for study), so [insert spiritual belief/figure here] help the kids of today. Poor little mites.