School .NE. Learning

One Day. Back to gym. Thankfully! Podcast this morning was an episode of the CBC’s “Best of Ideas” on the matter of homework. My take-away was that the program was mostly negative on the matter. 

Since I was a child of the Containment era when any effort portrayed as good for the nation was mandated, I had homework. At least they didn’t kill us like they did the suspected (on specious grounds, usually) Communists. 

I have to admit that most of the homework was crap. Double Sturgeon, in fact. The exception was math and science. Most of what I leaned about maths and science pre-college was on-my-own. Homework was the chief vehicle with library plundering a close second. While my age cohort was playing at sports and complaining about homework, and schule in general, I was reading. Three to four books a week. My parents refused to let me spend money on comic books because they were read before the ride home was accomplished. So mostly encyclopedias and tomes intended for adults. 

Since my life was about reading, and to a lesser extent, writin’, homework was only a burden when it was boring. Which pretty well fit everything except maths and science. Especially grammar. Which brings me to the benefit of homework.

Most of my teachers were ineffective. That is, they were roundly unsuccessful in imparting information. Mostly because they were boring. If I hadn’t learned to read at home by age four, I would likely be illiterate to this day.

There were exceptions. I had a competent science teacher in high schule. He taught chemistry. I took his course his first year as a teacher and he left teaching a few years later to start his own chemistry company. I had a competent maths teacher my senior year if we could keep him off the organ. The musical type, not anatomical. 

So when I got to college most of what I had learned was from homework. That would seem to explain a lot. Like why so many people are math-blind; they can’t learn on their own. And why some Millennials are empty headed; they can learn on their own.  

I should comment that I did have good teachers in college. Maybe a third in undergraduate schule and four or five in graduate schule. (Neither of my graduate advisers are in that number.) 

I should also comment that teaching is not easy. In fact, it is a very hard thing. Teaching isn’t about being nice. Teaching is about having the most difficult conversation possible. Most teachers never manage to have that conversation. It’s very hard work. After I got evicted from graduate schule, I taught a few courses. Lost weight and my blood pressure went up every time. But my students, in the main, came back and thanked me for getting them through quals and comps. But I gave it up because it was too hard for me and hard on me. Not that I would have been kept around. You can’t be a good teacher in Amerika and make the administration happy. Which is probably why we are working so hard to become a Third World Country. 

So homework? Definitely. For those few who will learn in spite of the system.