Kids have homework. I get that. It's good for them to practice what they've learned in school so the learning sets in.
What I don't get is homework that takes both parents, four college degrees between us, to figure it out and then teach it to our kid. That when we ask how the teacher explained it we are told the teacher never mentioned this type of problem before. This is new. The first time she's heard of it.
Okay, so maybe she wasn't paying attention. Maybe it was taught and she missed it altogether.
That's where my second gripe comes into play. The evenings when she understands the larger, underlying concept but the homework is presented in a quirky, confusing, hard-to-solve way. Which again, requires one or both parents trying to figure out what the heck the question is even asking, let alone how to derive at the correct answer.
It's those evenings I want to sit down with the writers of the workbook and ask, What were you thinking? Were you at the last fade of your morning caffeine buzz, that point where your head starts to nod and your legs get restless and your mind starts to wonder if what's left on the bagel cart?
Or were you just smoking too much crack?
But let's leave the amphetamine-addicted, hallucinogenic-dropping, educational book developers alone for the time being.
Let's talk about my main issue.
It's the fact that my daughter is lucky enough to have two educated, willing, at-home, sober parents spending concentrated time helping her figure it out.
It's the fact that I'm well aware that too many kids don't have this advantage. This help at home. This step up.
And don't get me started on the projects. The projects where I can tell that the parent and child spent one day together buying twenty dollars worth of nifty, crafty materials at Michaels and then the next day assembling. Or was that Mom assembling for five hours and child losing interest after the second hour? Because that neatly-painted, sequin-studded, velvet-striped catepillar was not a first grader's doing.
My favorite science projects have always been the ones hand-written in #2 pencil standing bravely next to the Photo-Shopped, Excel-Charted, Word-Doc Wonders.
So my question is one that I know concerns a lot of caring parents, educators and therapists:
What about the kids who come from a chaotic, abusive ... nobody's home ... home? How fair is it to these kids that homework can't be completed without help? And they've got nobody at home to help them?
Or maybe they come home to a mom in a drunken rage or a dad hitting a mom in a drunken rage or a grandmother who can't pull herself away from her soaps or an uncle who can't stay out of the kid's bedroom at night.
Yes, my kids get good grades. I'm proud of them and their effort and abilities. I'm proud of myself being an involved parent, especially on those nights when I'd rather be at Antone's jamming to some blues.
But I'm not proud of an educational system that rewards parents who do the teaching. Or workbooks with assignments that require adult-hands-on-deck to decipher.
A too hard assignment leaves out too many kids. Too many kids whose grades reflect not what they can do but what they can't have: a nurturing home life. For that, they've already paid a heavy price. I don't want them paying twice, in the form of substandard grades.