Blood, sweat and homework

Bellarmine students receive homework from several subjects each day. Photo by Rachael So

Bellarmine students receive homework from several subjects each day. Photo by Rachael So

Bellarmine students receive homework from several subjects each day. Photo by Rachael So

Peter Gray

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There is one word that all students will cringe at the very thought of. This word ruins nights, weekends, sleep schedules. Homework: the bane of most student’s existence.

Does a 40 problem math assignment present itself as an intellectual challenge, or a burden that is rushed and done poorly? Is a student’s goal when assigned a large reading assignment in history to learn about important trends and themes of civilization, or to simply look at the words on the page? What can we do to fix this indifference?

The most common problem that most students encounter in their educational career is how to get their homework done without wasting too much of their precious young lives. For example, a student may seek the help of a website such as slader (an online answer key) in order to know that they are doing the homework correctly. Other students may use slader as a more substantial source for their homework if they feel they have already learned the material. In the words of an anonymous student, “Slader is pretty clutch.”

Schools encourage students to branch out, be themselves and try something new. But for the people that may take homework more seriously than others, they are left without extra time to spend with friends, practice a hobby or just relax. Rather than problem solving, they are often forced to look up and regurgitate information.

For many students, the best venue to learn material is through direct instruction with a teacher in a classroom setting. For students like senior Jordan Williams, “Small amounts of homework combined with in-class instruction pertaining to that particular assignment is the best way to grasp concepts.” Jordan’s preference seems like a happy medium that allows the teacher to see where the students are.

Heidi Pettit, math teacher at Bellarmine, has implemented a system with a homework assignment each day that does not yield any points. However, every three days, students take a quiz on that particular lesson, which gives them the opportunity to earn points for their preparation.

Pettit went into more detail about the benefits of this system, saying, “first, it gives a daily checkpoint of understanding instead of waiting until the test day to see if students really know the material or not, students are continually put into ‘test mode’ so that when the test does come around it is less intimidating, and third, it gives the students an introduction to what college is like where homework doesn’t affect the grade, but serves as an aid to help understanding and practice. It places accountability on the students to put in the amount of time and effort necessary for them to be successful in the class, but that varies from student to student on how they best learn, and figuring out how you as an individual student learn and study best is an important skill to take with you to college.”

Also, since the quizzes are open note, students tend to do a really good job taking notes and paying attention in class.

This fresh learning strategy is a unique perspective that tells us that there are alternatives to assigning pointless and lengthy homework assignments, and that teachers at Bellarmine are starting to realize what is appropriate in terms of homework amount.

In the end, we should all take a second look at the purpose of homework and the educational system in general. In a rapidly changing world, we need problem solvers that can adapt to the exponential changes and make a difference in our world.

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Blood, sweat and homework