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Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Wednesday whining

I know things have been a little distressing around here lately, and I fear this will make some of the regular whiners feel a bit sheepish about bringing anything less than life-changing tragedies to the ball this week. If you are one of those sheepish whiners, I can only remind you that Wednesday whining (which has in many ways taken on an identity independent of this blog or any intention of mine) was originally intended to be a place where you could complain freely about the stupid things that you try not to complain about in real life, for fear of being labelled an ungrateful whiner. It was intended to be the sort of place where you could come with your tales of snot-ridden infants, long-winded faculty meetings, grocery shopping disasters, and all the irritating, embarrassing detritus of daily life. In short, it was originally intended to be the sort of place that is devoted to the utterly trivial. It has gone in a slightly different direction, of course. But as long as Wednesday whining is happening on my watch, there will always be a welcome mat for complaints about stupid, petty things.

So, on that note, I am going to make my usual earth-shattering sort of whine. I am here today to whine about LG's homework. We could have a reasonable debate about whether or not there is any real pedagogical need to assign homework in kindergarten, even if it is largely of the "color in this picture and return it to class on this date" kind of homework. I'd be happy to acknowledge that there are many different reasonable answers to the question of kindergarten homework, based on the child, the learning environment, the home environment, and the needs and expectations of the community. I'm reasonable, see. I'm not here to whine about his homework qua homework, although if you push me I might mutter a few words about how, in the particular case of my particular child, he accomplishes more learning in his free time than he does while completing some homework coloring assignment. But, no. That is not my whine.

My whine? The school may say, in its handy-dandy color-coordinated flyers, that the child is expected to do the majority of the work on any given homework assignment. But when the suggested projects for kindergarteners include, say, making complicated architectural structures out of food items, I'm thinking that's got to be some genius kindergartener out there who can do that work "mostly" by his- or herself. And furthermore, the instruction that parents supervise the formation of each letter when our Adorable Offspring writes out his or her homework assignment? Suggests to me that I am the one who is being trained to do homework on a weekly or daily basis.

Hey, I have my damn degree. I did my homework for 17 years. I already have these skills. I am not the one who needs to be learning the kindergarten curriculum. You know? I have won the right to sit quietly on the couch with a game of Spider solitaire or a book (what? it could happen) while my kid does his OWN frickin' homework. If it is not an assignment that a child of average ability for that age could complete without adult assistance, then WHY IS IT AN ASSIGNMENT IN THE FIRST PLACE?

I'm just asking.

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