Friday, August 24, 2012

Homework, Since You Mention It

Rita Byrne Tull, over at The Dabbler, writes
I came to understand that my own children’s homework assignments were often being graded in competition with other parents, not other students.  Who can compete with an engineer father’s battery powered working model of a lung?  This was what my daughter’s painstakingly assembled plastic bag and tubing effort was up against.
Eventually I imagined that the "science projects" assigned in the primary grades were part of a meta-experiment, one to find out what middle-class parents would put up with. The answer, clearly, was "damned near anything." Fortunately, the primary grades do come to an end, and if you are lucky the science classes from then on may include actual science.

I find in Jacques Barzun's The House of Intellect (published 1959), chapter "Education Without Instruction", a footnote:
* A natural philosopher of my acquaintance, a house painter by trade, greeted me one morning a I was taking my young daughter to school; 'Say, are you familiar with the modern homework?'--'Why, yes. What are you thinking of especially?'--'It's for the parents.'

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