Homework (and School) Hidden Agenda

January 19, 2018

Nine year old Lucas hates his homework.  On a fairly regular basis he meltdowns over any assignment that might take more than about 10 minutes to complete.  Whining constantly, rolling around on the floor, crying and sobbing are part of the nightly rituals accompanying homework.

Lucas’ teacher, Mrs. Hanover, believes homework is pretty important for kids and feels that fourth graders need to learn to stop being babies and begin taking responsibility for themselves.  She has clearly told that to the parents during back-to-school night and is pretty diligent assigning homework daily.

A professional with over 15 years’ experience, Mrs. Hanover is careful to make sure that the homework is within a window of time that would not take more than 30-45 minutes to complete (minus the crying and rolling around on the floor).  For the kids with identified  learning problems who are either classified or have 504 plans, she told the parents they could reduce the total amount assigned as long as the child was giving good effort.

All that mattered to Mrs. Hanover was good faith effort, an honest 30 minutes or so.  She didn’t feel it was too much to ask.

Needless to lay Lucas’ parents are becoming extremely concerned with the thrill ride of nightly homework reactivity.  The mom finds herself waking in the middle of the night having borderline anxiety attacks, going on the school’s webpage to see what Lucas’ grades (kind of like checking the stock market) and how much homework he is missing.

Does homework help kids with learning?  Depending what research you read and what theorist you are going to follow homework falls somewhere on the continuum of totally useless to valuable.

Intuitively, though, as parents we know there is a hidden agenda to homework and we want our kids to buy in – to get the work done and hand it in on time.  We know that there are values in the doing regardless of the content of the homework.

What are some of the hidden agendas or values of homework?

  • Meeting a deadline
  • Facing your responsibilities
  • Planning
  • Having a goal (even a small one) and obtaining it
  • Taking care of your stuff
  • Organizing yourself
  • Learning to become independent
  • Growing up

There are many more like these, but you get the idea.

We naturally worry (well, at least the moms worry) when kids are not facing the hidden agenda of school and homework.  As kids get older we worry a lot, because the future (and adulthood) are looming.

So, we medicate.  We yell.  We punish. We harangue. We nag.We nag. We nag.

Recognize that school and homework are the vehicles we have used to transmit values like the ones listed..  Unless you are going off the grid and avoiding school altogether, then the hidden agenda of school (homework) is working every day.

Homework largely has little to do with real learning and much more to do with shaping these values.  It’s not the grades that matter all that much, but the values do.

What’s the answer to any of it?

I’m not saying that kids don’t (at times) need support  to get through their homework, but the message Lucas needs is a pretty simple one delivered in straight-forward, no-nonsense tones:

“Suck it up, Lucas. 30 minutes is not going to kill you.  I’m close by if you need any help.”

——————————————————————-

Not in the South Jersey area? For a free 15 Minute Consultation, contact Dr. Selznick: email – contact@drselz.com.

To receive free Dyslexia Infographics and updates, go to: www.shutdownlearner.com.

 

 

Leave a reply
Mickey Mouse & His Too Soon PowersAssessment: The Basics

Leave Your Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Sign Up for Down to Earth Advice!

Sign up to receive blogs, learn about upcoming teleseminars, and hear about other exciting news from Dr. Selz.

Sign Me Up