Friday, December 10, 2010

Hiswork or Mywork? by Robin Gorman Newman

Ahhh.....Homework.  Or should I say Hiswork or Mywork??

Seth had half a day this week….parent/teacher meetings.

After the play date I arranged for him, and he opened yet another Hanukkah present, we sat down to do his special homework assignment that is due in a week.

It was about ancestry. He was to choose a country of his ancestry, and research it in order to answer certain questions.

Since Seth is adopted, we don’t know his biological ancestry. So, we offered him a variety of options. Russia came up….my grandparents. Israel and Germany for Marc’s grandparents. I also mentioned Australia…since our bird Smokey is a cockatiel, and that’s where they are from.
The choice was Seth’s. He opted for Australia. So interesting to me that he went that route but not altogether surprising since he loves animals and his pet bird and fish.

What was somewhat surprising and questionable to me was the requirements of this homework.

Seth is in second grade, and this was most certainly not something he could do on his own. It mandated research….whether on the computer or from library reference books. We didn’t have anything handy at home relative to Australia.

He and I sat down at my lap top, and Google became our best friend. He knows how to use Google, so together we looked up various aspects of Australia, and I dictated/spelled answers for him. He was asked to fill in everything ranging from the most popular food in Australia, to top sights, to neighboring countries.

I have to confess…..most of this was total news to me. I actually had thought the capital of Australia was either Sydney or Melbourne. I was wrong. And, I didn’t know that Australia is in fact its own continent. Live and learn.

Foodwise….aside from kangaroo and crocodile…which Seth loved the notion of….another top food called Vegemite, some sort of breakfast spread, came up as a favorite. Who knew?! Meat pies were ranked high as well.

Sights included things like the Sydney Opera House and Great Barrier Reef.

It was a learning experience in terms of the information we uncovered…but what I questioned ultimately was the gain for Seth in doing this assignment. Was it his homework or mine?

What is the lesson he was supposed to take away from it?

He already knew how to search with Google.  He is fairly computer astute.
Was it just intended to be yet another mommy & me project? If so, I’m able to engage my son in a variety of ways without being given school work.

This felt like burden.
Australia isn’t a country he was taught about in school. Would it have been more effective if he were to further research something that is at least remotely familiar to him?! Will he retain the information? How will it be shared in the classroom with other students? Does he even know where Australia is? No.

Back in the day when I was in grade school, I don’t remember researching at the age of 7.

Homework such as this becomes one more thing for a parent to do…as if we don’t already have enough. And, what if you’re a working parent, where do you find the time? It’s not viable to assign it to the child himself at age 7.

Will someone please explain to me the necessity of such special school assignments when it’s above a child’s head? I don’t get it. But, I do now know that Canberra is the capital of Australia.

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Blogger Cara Meyers said...

Brandon has a project he received Dec 13th due Jan 6, 2011 as a research project and a diorama of the solar system!! This project will need to be worked on over Winter recess and an entire page of internet sites is listed as "reference guides!!" For second grade!! We had to buy all of the "required" supplies at the craft store and make sure to follow the instructional outline or else the planets will not align appropriately! WT.....?? The last time I put in this much work into an assignment was for one of my Masters Degrees!!

1:54 AM  

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