Homework

A regular occurrence at my place over the last couple of months has been the parent vs kid vs homework argument. It is a constant one, never ending and unfortunately I can’t say the parents appear to be gaining any ground.

As both kids now have take-home laptops through the school, I had thought the homework hassle stuff would be easier. There would be no queues to use the one desktop in the study, forgetting to bring homework home would be a thing of the past, homework would be enjoyable (ha – yes, I know that last one was pushing things a bit).

I was wrong. So very very wrong. The hassles have changed somewhat but there are still arguments. Our new array of obstacles include proxy servers at school crash = NO access whatsoever to laptops as they can’t even log on! For the WHOLE weekend. “I saved my work to a memory stick but left it at school”. “I forgot to email my work to myself”. Let’s not even discuss the capability (or not) of kids doing homework on laptops and not accessing FB or chat at the same time.

Whatever the situation, the fight to do/avoid homework will continue. Did I do this to my parents???? Actually no. My parents were not involved enough to know what homework was due and whether I should have been doing it versus watching TV, socializing or just plain sleeping. Are we trying too hard in pushing our children to deal with their homework? Are we wrong to assume that if reminded once, they are old enough to not have to be reminded again, again and again? If there are easy answers, let me know. I am happy to take solutions that come in tablet form.

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21st century education

In the school newsletter I received yesterday, the state primary school announced it was introducing iPads for all students in Grade 5 in 2012. These students would take their iPads with them to Grade 6 in 2013 and a new cycle would begin for the Grade 5’s in that year. In the proposal parents have the opportunity to purchase the iPad outright or enter into a lease arrangement for two years.

I think this is fabulous – and have two children who are desperately jealous, as our contact with primary school finishes this year.  I am somewhat surprised that the state secondary college is not yet doing the same thing.

During our tour earlier this year (as Kid2 will start Yr7 in 2012), the Junior School Principle did mention that he expected all students would have tablet devices by 2015. For my children this will be Yr 10 and Yr12. As the state secondary college is considered the best in the area (the only one that ‘zones’ students) and one of the best in Melbourne, I don’t really understand why they would wait that long?

Bring it on!!!

Though when all these iPads come to pass, this would make me the only one in the house to not have one 🙂

Oils spills and vivisection

Last night Kid1 stumbled across an online news story about the Gulf of Mexico oil spill and the damage done to the environment and wildlife. She was horrified. Her rant to me focussed however on the actions of the people filming the horrors.

“Why aren’t they helping the birds? They just stand there, filming. They should be washing the birds clean.”

And so began a brief discussion on what it would take to save the birds, if at all possible, versus the need to capture on film the consequences of an oil spill. It wasn’t a long discussion, but it did lead in turn to talk of her current homework assignment – an argumentative piece on vivisection. Her study on this controversial topic has created some personal turmoil for her. She understands the scientific and medical value in some cases, but cannot abide the cruelty to animals. While she doesn’t articulate it so clearly, her dilemma is the greyness between right and wrong – there is no correct answer.

In primary school, a child’s view of the world is very black and white. This is an over simplification – however, the early to mid years of primary school focus strongly on children developing a sense of what they should or should not do. The later years of primary school present children with some opportunities to analyse situations and apply their own reasoning. But as a means of encouraging this thinking process, the questions posed are not intricate nor value based. The children are taught the use of de Bono’s ‘six hats’, but it is in unconfrontational contexts. The child is guided to success by determining how the different hats may be used, rather any merit assigned to the different points of view. I have seen many reports on school excursions expressed through the ‘six hats’ – and the child will worry about using the ‘black hat’ when talking about poor camp food, or the stinky pit toilets at CERES, as there is concern in stating any negatives.

With the leap into high school this year, Kid1 is suddenly facing more complex issues, where personal values may be questioned. The vivisection essay has greatly stirred her thought processes. It’s made her question ethics versus medical value, cruelty vs scientific findings. As her mother, it’s fascinating to watch those brain cells start clicking! I can see the mental to and fro ricocheting in her mind – and I’m immensely happy.

She’s comprehending adult concepts, and with them the pain of the ‘grey areas’. While I am sad for the loss of innocence, and the easy answers, I can’t help but feel proud. One sensitive and astute young child is well on her way into the world! Perhaps we got some of that parenting stuff right?