School was never something I enjoyed. There were parts of it that were somewhat intriguing, but for the most part I spent my youth yearning to be free of the classroom so I could pursue more interesting endeavors. To be honest, in those days those pursuits were mostly video games, but these days I tend to balance that out with a lot of research into topics that I’m interested in such as physics, cosmology and other topics that grab my attention. School rarely had anything to offer me aside from a list of things I was supposed to know to be acceptable in the workplace. It was important, but decidedly unengaging.
Perhaps the single most unreasonable concept that to this day I strongly disagree with is the idea of homework. I am nearly forty years old and I still look back on my time in school and remember how much I hated coming home from school only to be dragged right back into that world with mounds of homework to get done. Kids of every generation can relate to this feeling, as I’m not the only person who couldn’t stand it. We just wanted to have fun, not be saddled with a bunch of extra work.
As most adults grow up, however, they start to see the value in reinforcing information for kids in the home. I am not one of them. Rather than an additional means of ensuring that kids are really learning the information, I see it is an insidious method of teaching children that it is acceptable to be sent home with extra work that should have been completed during the day. It convinces them through repetition that the concept of working outside of normal hours for no additional reward is perfectly acceptable.
Having worked in both types of pay scales, salary and hourly, I can say without doubt that I prefer to be compensated in a way that encourages my employer to minimize the amount of time I spend at the office. Exempt positions are nice from a consistency standpoint since you can count on getting the same paycheck regardless of how much you work, but the tradeoff is that you’re expected to stay as long as is necessary to get the job done. Hourly positions generally mitigate having to stay late, but you might sacrifice some income in the process.
My favorite arrangement is a guaranteed forty hour work week, where you are paid hourly but you still get a minimum paycheck every week. At least, that’s what it is in the normal working world. The unicorn for me would be a job where I just have a list of tasks that need to get done and a deadline to finish them; then it’s on me to figure out when and where I work to get it done. Of course, those jobs are very few and far between, so the guaranteed forty is my favorite from the available options.
At any rate, I’ve never held homework in high regard, and I’m not a fan of it for my children, either. Fortunately, my kids have been homeschooled for most of their life, so homework isn’t really a thing for them; they’re home already. It just irks me that children are being taught that it is perfectly acceptable to bring their work home with them to get done on their time rather than just getting it all done at school. This kind of thinking is what leads to sixty or eighty hour work weeks trying to stay on top of things. It’s what makes employers believe this kind of behavior is normal.
I understand the idea of “just get it done”, and many times I agree with it. Sometimes things come up and you just have to put in extra time to get it all done. However, for many people this is just a regular part of life and they sacrifice so much of their time trying to bite off more than they can chew at work. Until people start realizing that this is simply corporate America taking advantage of effectively free labor, it won’t change. And as long as our school systems continue to promote the concept of homework, it’s unlikely to change anytime soon.
What do you think about homework? Is it an effective way of reinforcing information for kids, or is it an unnecessary indoctrination into becoming overworked? We live in a time where people are really starting to learn what they want out of life, and for many it isn’t slaving away for someone else for sixteen hours a day. Perhaps it’s time to stop teaching our children to bring their work home with them.
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