I used to be one of you.
Overworked, underpaid, and under-appreciated.
For ten years, up until I got married, I was an elementary school teacher.
Back in those single days, before I had kids of my own, I felt pretty strongly about homework.
Kids should have it.
They should get used to it.
I’m not really sure why I thought that.
But I did.
Now that I’m a parent and I’m on the other side of the homework equation, things are different.
I still feel pretty strongly about it.
But not in the same way.
Kids shouldn’t have it.
Not much of it anyway.
My feelings on this matter aren’t due to laziness.
If you know me, you know that you’d have a difficult time finding someone who works harder than I do.
This aversion to homework is not about not wanting to work.
It’s about the value of time.
My time is valuable.
And so is my kids’.
Just because a human being is only five, or nine, or thirteen years old, it does not make his or her time less valuable than yours.
And I know you can relate.
There is never enough time in the day for a teacher.
And when some asshole sitting in an office in Washington D.C. or Hartford decides to add a useless standard or benchmark or whatever to the list of things you need to accomplish each day, it’s annoying.
Those exams you have to take for your certification?
Imagine if, even after you passed them, you had to continue, for up to three hours nightly, in writing, to demonstrate that you had mastered those skills or memorized that information?
And once you were done with that, then you could get to all the other things you needed to get done?
Speaking of insanity, I’ve had my battles with that.
I’m no stranger to mental illness and depression.
And what I know about those things is that too much work can push you right over the edge.
I don’t want my kid to have to wait until she’s done a couple stints in the nuthouse to figure out that there has to be balance.
That all work and no play is really fucking dangerous.
That sleep, and exercise and music and sports and family and friends and quite possibly therapy are all important components to being a healthy and productive and happy adult.
Sure, there are days you will have to spend more time on an assignment or project than others.
Studying for tests takes time.
There are some things that just need to be memorized.
And there are some things you need to practice.
If you don’t know how to read, that’s a problem.
If you can’t multiply three digit numbers because you don’t know your math facts, that’s not good.
If you are not meeting the basic requirements, then there will be a consequence.
That’s how real life is. I get it.
If you want to play varsity basketball but you can’t make a free throw to save your life, well, you’re gonna need to spend some extra time practicing free throws.
But if my kid has demonstrated mastery of all her math facts, why does she need to do multiplication worksheets when she gets home from school?
My eight-year-old’s time is just as important as anyone else’s, no matter what age he or she is.
So I’ll make a deal with you.
You teach my kids to read and write and add and subtract and some important stuff about history and science and some different ways in which they can solve problems because everyone has different ways of learning things and figuring shit out.
I, in turn, will teach my kid to not be an asshole at school, and how to strike a balance with all the other things that we adults realize are important for overall health and productivity out in the real world. Things like exercise, and the pursuit of our passions, and maintaining healthy relationships, and listening to our bodies, and getting rest, and following through, and taking responsibility.
If my kid is really struggling with a subject or concept in school, let me know. I’ll help you out.
But take it easy on the homework.
And before you assign it, think about why you are asking my child to do it, and whether or not it’s even necessary.
Because if I have to spend too much time helping with that,
well, then I can’t guarantee I’ll have enough time to work on those other things.
And I don’t know about you, but I’d rather send a healthy, rested, and well rounded child into school
than an asshole who can explain the irony of Edgar Allen Poe.
Related post: 10 Ways School Sucks For Adults Just As Much As Kids