Sunday, June 20, 2010

Discussing Choices with the big boys...

We talk alot about making choices in our house, and about living with choices, and yet another discussion came up about this today regarding school and homework.

Let me preface this by saying I personally believe homework is a load of CROCK designed to make teachers and parents feel better about the whole "academic" push of school.

Ok, so being in grades 3-4, there is now a homework grid the boys get sent home with at the beginning of each term. Our school is pretty good about home, actually, compared to what I've heard about from other school. There is only reading homework for the first three grades, and thereafter there is this homework grid that I believe many schools have adopted where students are give 16-20 homework assignments on a grid, three of which are compulsory and three others they can choose from the remainder, and then if they want to do more homework, that's their choice (or their parents choice, as I believe the case may be for some poor unfortunates out there). They didn't even hand out a grid for first term this year because it was so short.

My boys (possibly because they're MY boys), tend to attack the homework grid with enthusiasm in the first month of weekends, but then lose interest. Often this simply means they don't do the extra work. This time, however, they're both "behind" in their homework. It was all due last Monday and both boys still had three of the six "minimum" tasks left to do.

Luey's teacher (he's in grade three, so first term of real homework) hasn't said anything. However, Erik's teacher has apparently told him he HAS to have the remaining tasks done by tomorrow, because it's all about learning "independence in all environments"(remember what I said about it being such a CROCK!) and if he doesn't do it by tomorrow, he has to sit in at lunch time until he does get it done.

Erik's solution was to just not go to school this week.

I said to him that if he didn't want to do homework, I wasn't going to make him do it. He wanted me to tell the teacher that homework isn't important. I said that I could tell her that I wasn't interested in being a homework "enforcer", he said he didn't want it to turn into an argument like the school fees debacle of February.

So, then we had the choices discussion again.

I said he chose to go to school, and as stupid as I might think it is to do homework, it was something the teachers felt was important for learning. Now that didn't mean he had to do it, but it did mean that if he didn't do it, he was going to meet considerable resistance from them, and they might even say that if he doesn't want to do homework, he should go to another school that doesn't do homework. I said he could always choose to homeschool.

He said he doesn't go to school to learn. He goes to school to make (and he spelled) F R I E N D S... I told him he could make friends without going to school. He said he wouldn't get to see them every day like he does at school. I said that was probably true. Then I said that choices usually have stuff we love and stuff we don't like so much all mixed up together. As an example, I told him that for a long while I've chosen to eat a lot of chips, chocolate and coke, and I've really enjoyed that choice because those things taste great and I feel great while I'm eating them. The not so great part of that choice is that I've stacked on a lot of extra weight which causes me to feel tried, and causes my body to ache when I move. So, I've been making other choices recently which mean not eating and drinking those sugary foods, but feeling a bit better.

So, he chooses to go to school, which means getting to see his friends everyday and having a lot of fun, but it also means being asked to do homework and choosing to either do it, which can be boring and time consuming but keeps the teachers off his back, or not do and stand up for his right not to do, but which means probably creating a lot of fear and anger in the teachers.

Choices are such a complex issue for children to grasp. Many adults don't grasp the equation of making choices and being responsible for your own choices and living with the consequences of your choices. I want my boys to learn to be comfortable with making choices and acknowledging the role they play in how their lives flow.

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