WHY GIVE OUT HOMEWORK? – a poem by Judi Curry

by on October 13, 2010 · 22 comments

in Culture, Education, The Widder Curry


I have a 14 year old granddaughter that’s driving her parents


No one would ever have suspected it of this child.

A swimmer, a junior life guard to boot,

When it comes to homework she doesn’t give a hoot.

Her backpack is stuffed with papers and books,

She continues to give her teachers dirty looks.

But they don’t care as they pile on more,

“Have a nice day” as she goes out the door.

Two hours of physics; three more of math,

She takes a break for a quick bath.

On to science and history next,

Thank goodness she is smart enough to learn from the text.

But wait! What if she learns thing wrong,

It’s not like learning the lyrics of a song.

If “ i “ follows “e”, except after “c”

Who tells her the exceptions; can’t be me.

She finishes her assignment even though it’s not right,

And goes to bed and turns off the light.

The next day she turns in her work,

Let’s hope her teacher is not a jerk.

For what is the purpose of giving this work,

What is she supposed to learn?

More often than not the homework is tossed,

While the student, and parents, get burned.

If you can answer the question 4 of 5 times

And the answer is usually right,

Doing 95 more problems will not enhance the learning,

Especially when it is done at night.

What happened to being young for a very short time,

And old forever it seems,

The only time a child has fun,

Is in their own personal dreams.

The people that say that “homework is important,”

Are the ones that never had trouble.

The ones learning it wrong day after day,

Are the ones who break the bubble.

For college is out; who knows what is in,

They are always taking it on the chin.

Their failure rate is second to none,

The homework will never be done.

Let’s put a limit on the amount sent home,

No more than a total hour or two,

Learning takes place between teacher and student,

That’s what they are paid to do.

Homework does not build character for all,

In fact, it is very discouraging.

Wouldn’t it be nice to feel good about self,

Wouldn’t that be more encouraging?

Tell those parents and administrators too,

The ones that clamor for homework,

That learning it once, and learning it right

Should eliminate staying up all night.

If a student can learn by textbook alone,

Without any interaction,

Seems to me we could save some money,

And eliminate the teacher faction.

And this is coming from a teacher of years

Who watches her granddaughter shed many tears.

The potential is there but not for long,

Maybe she’d be better off learning that song.

For school, and homework is not meeting her needs,

She should get out and play,

She’s learning the material in the classroom, you see,

And she is learning it day by day.

The “night by night” is taking its toll,

For more of the same is not working,

She’s developing a hatred for class and school,

And, believe me, she is no ones fool.

Unless it is realized that no learning takes place,

Sitting at a desk at night,

The students of today will not be secure,

In the knowledge that they are right.

Take a look at the assignments today and see

What they are meant to teach,

And see how hard and unnecessary they are,

How many students did the teacher reach?

If you answer is “I can reach more”

By improving the way I teach,

You, and your students, have come a long way,

To close the learning breach.

{ 21 comments… read them below or add one }

Sarah October 13, 2010 at 3:43 pm

Nice poem, Judi!

I have ranted over homework requirements for years. I swear that the teachers thought the “…two hours per night” meant “…two hours per subject per night”. I fought the homework wars with my youngest son to absolutely no avail. The conversation would go like this:

“Son, have you finished your homework”
“No and I’m not doing it. I’ve colored in the tectonic plates for the last three years and I’m not doing it again”
“Son, you won’t get a good grade if you don’t turn in your homework”
“If the only reason I’m pursueing an education is to get good grades, what’s the point of the education? Is the fact that I don’t turn in a piece of paper in the morning more important than the fact that I know all the information?”

discussion over — I fought for his right to not turn in homework, did my best to get him involved with teachers that appreciated his particular issues and never gave up on him, but I did stop nagging about homework.

Fast forward to Junior Year of High School. (somewhat paraphrased)

“Mom, none of these colleges will accept me with a 2.0 grade point average”
“Gee, honey, that’s too bad. You’ll just have to write a killer essay, get lots of recommendations and ace the SAT”
“Mom, they really do want good grades, too”
“Gee, honey. I’m sorry. Would you like me to drive you to Seattle Central Community College to see what they offer?”

Then the good part. This is part of an “essay” that he wrote his Junior year of college at the UW. My oldest son stole it from his Facebook wall and sent to me. (yeah, I’m bragging again)

“… I thank my mother for everything I have become. I graduated from high school with a GPA less than 2.0. My mother drove me to Seattle Central Community College, and convinced me that if I was going to make anything of my life, it would be through that institution. She was right. I got good grades, I transferred, and I am now on my path to commissioning as a naval officer. But what my mother maybe is not so aware of is the practical education she provided me with.”

He finishes up with: “… I cannot help but think that my mom’s consistent advocacy for me in parent-teacher conferences and in school board hearings, her constant nagging about my progress through school, led me to a path that I inevitably would have been unable to follow otherwise.”

And who says parents don’t get report cards?
PS: As a high-school senior this son went back to his middle school to give a little talk to the 8th graders. About? The importance of turning in your homework!


judi October 13, 2010 at 4:10 pm

Great story, Sarah. My poor daughter is besides herself with her daughter not wanting to do homework. Things have been taken away; threats have been issued; positive feedback has been used; negative feedback has been used; and still she does not – no, will not – do the homework. And then, sometimes just to placate my daughter, she does it BUT doesn’t turn it in. I wish she could talk to your son! Thanks for sticking to your beliefs. The model you showed your sons should be emulated by all parents today.


Sarah October 13, 2010 at 4:40 pm

Well, if it’s any help to your daughter…

I sought assurances from the teachers that he was indeed learning the material and was participating in class, asking good questions and being an all around okay sort of guy.

Then I examined the issue carefully and realized that this really was his stress, not mine, and the moment I gave up the battle my load lightened and the world at home became peaceful and serene. Dinner time was pleasant, bedtime a joy, etc etc etc


judi October 13, 2010 at 4:56 pm

I have told my daughter about your posts. Knowing that others have gone through what she is going through is so helpful. As a Jr. High School Principal a parent once asked me if I could keep her son locked up at school until he was 18 and then let him go home has a lot of truth in it. This is such a difficult age. So easy to “lose” them now. Thanks for the encouragement.


Roseann McPhaul October 13, 2010 at 7:53 pm

Anthony, at age 10, and fifth grade, HATES homework. It is a constant battle. I made him a deal (bribery does work sometimes). Told him if he turned in all of his homework, and did it on time, that I would give him so much a week, acrrued until the end of the year….and….if he didn’t miss turning in any assignments…I would double it. Being driven by the thoughts of what he could do with the money, so far he has faithfully turned in his assignments. I’m not proud of bribery, but if that’s what it takes to get him in the habit of doing and turning it in, then it’s what I’m prepared to do.


judi October 13, 2010 at 8:33 pm

I would think of it not as bribery, but positive reinforcement. After all, he stands to make a lot more money if he follows the rules, and it is his decision. Whatever works – works. If you need a loan, let me know.


Sarah October 14, 2010 at 3:44 pm

Roseann –

I fully support bribery! I tried that, but my son was truly committed to his “no homework no matter what” policy.

Judi –

I had a thought for your daughter today. The most interesting, most intelligent, most fascinating people I’ve ever met were the sort of folks that spurned homework and grades.


judi October 14, 2010 at 5:59 pm

Hi Sarah, I haven’t talked to my daughter yet today, but I have a feeling that my granddaughter will not succumb to the money angle. But she is a voracious reader, so if she thought that she might be able to buy books, she might try it.

I will pass your “thought” on to my daughter, but I am SURE she will not pass it on to hers!

Thanks for thinking of us.


Sarah October 14, 2010 at 7:01 pm

appropriate timing…. I just logged on to Facebook and Cody, the anti-homework son has posted this comment on a “thread”.

“I am looking through the box of school pictures, grade reports, and schoolwork right now. I can’t believe I made it out alive!”


judi October 14, 2010 at 7:53 pm

You are so lucky that he did. When I was at Job Corps, the population of drop-outs I worked with was enormous; 700 students – residents for the most part – at San Diego; 500 at Bangor, Maine; 800 at San Francisco.
What was it for Cody that allowed him to be a success when these other students were not successful. Sure, environment plays a part; parents play a role, but it comes down to the individual themselves. If he could only talk to those students that are thinking of leaving school and convince them to stay what a great thing that would be. I have trouble, myself, telling students about the “hardships” I faced after I quit, because, in actuality, I didn’t have any hardships. I made good money – thanks to the little I learned in high school business classes; and it took two years of teaching to make as much as I did as a bookkeeper. Remember, that was before computers and everything was done in ledgers.

Your input is so appreciative.


judi curry December 2, 2010 at 7:47 pm

hey sarrah! this is judi’s grandaughter! thanks! ill remember that next time i get a “talk” from my teachers about homework! :) ~molly


Sarah December 3, 2010 at 10:21 am

I was just thinking about you and your grandmother and homework. Cody, my youngest son, sent me this link last week with a note that said, “This is what I hated about the public school system”.


Enjoy! Maybe you should share it with your teachers and get a discussion going.



judi curry December 3, 2010 at 10:28 am

Great article, Sarah. I forwarded it on to Molly. She has a dance tonight – but I am sure will have some response over the weekend. Thanks for sharing it.


nancy October 15, 2010 at 11:57 am

Great stuff, Judi, as usual. You are one busy lady and still find the time to write this
great stuff. I envy you.


judi October 15, 2010 at 2:26 pm

Thanks, Nancy. Things I feel strongly about I can write about, but give me an assignment I don’t believe in – I can’t write it.


Zach Shatz October 16, 2010 at 10:38 am

In reading the comments, I saw mentioned the idea of paying the child to do the homework. I think that’s a perfectly perfect idea. I’ve had that view for many years, that if school is work in preparation for taking care of oneself, why shouldn’t it pay, just like other work does?

Of course it pays a “practice wage” of maybe $10 per week (depending on the child’s age), and in the end what would a parent rather have, the $10 in the purse or the child fulfilling responsibilities? Sounds like a no-brainer to me. Of course students should be rewarded for their hard work. Why shouldn’t they be? It makes every lick of sense.


Dorothy October 18, 2010 at 11:08 am

Great story. I, too, think that homework is not the answer. Why don’t we have a little longer class time so teachers can work with their students on assignments. Some parents are just not skilled at helping their children with homework or it’s been so long since they’ve worked on some of the math, english, etc. I believe the student, teachers, and parents would be better served by having the teacher work with the student at school instead of sending the work home. I am willing march around with a banner saying, ” Eliminate Homework – It is not working for the majority of students.”



judi October 18, 2010 at 5:52 pm

I just heard someone that is running for office say that if he is elected, he will make sure that kids have more homework to keep them out of trouble. Man, if we elect him, WE are in trouble. I’ll look for a special on banner material. You might have something there. Thanks, Judi


J. Browne October 18, 2010 at 8:10 pm

Thanks for the poem. I am sitting here with my 4th grade boy and 7th grade girl. It’s just after 8pm and we are half done with homework. My boy is asking me math questions I can’t begin to answer and my daughter is working on a “main idea collage” about Islam. We still have sentences to write about Harry Potter for the boy and a recipe for the “rise and fall of Islam” for the girl.

It’s going to be a long night.


judi October 18, 2010 at 8:16 pm

Hi J,
I have always wondered why assignments like this are given out to young students. Can they relate to it so that it becomes meaningful? Maybe Harry Potter, if your son has seen the movie, read the books, etc. And the “rise and fall of Islam” for a 7th grader? Does she understand the concept? What form of research has she brought home with her? Is the teacher going to correct the work? Is it creativity or philosophy? As for the math – I find that sometimes if you give the problem to “Google” – you get an answer. Do you understand how they got the answer? Ah…another problem entirely.

Hope you have the coffee fresh. Judi


J. Browne October 18, 2010 at 9:06 pm

Ha ha ha! I do google math problems (don’t tell). Her research is her textbook. I guess they study it in 7th grade in SDUSD. She seems pretty okay with it, sitting here, working hard on drawing what an invasion looks like.

We hate homework, it is the bane of our existence.


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