Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Calgary dad wins no-homework lawsuit for his kids

  1. Nov 20, 2009 #1
    wouldn't it be apocalyptic if this idea catches on & spreads across the country? everybody (on this site anyway) knows this guy is mental right? he said a lot of homework is "busy-work," especially what he said about math. according to him, once someone does the first few problems & gets the idea there's no point in doing 20 or 50 or 100 more. i was reminded of an instructor I had who brought a 3-ring binder to class one day, opened it up to show us what was inside & it was page after page of solved problems, just to show us what he had to do in order to get good at the stuff. & he said there were a dozen more binders like it in his office (which there was, in a cardboard box beneath his chalkboard). altogether they must have made a wad of paper a foot thick.... yeah... "busywork." I can imagine physics or engineering are similar.

    http://www.cbc.ca/canada/calgary/story/2009/11/18/calgary-homework-school-students.html [Broken]
    Last edited by a moderator: May 4, 2017
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 20, 2009 #2


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    Hmmm...have to take exception here. Might be controversial. Before you comment...state whether you're a parent or not.

    I was a stay-home mom until my daughter was 9. So I spent a lot of time volunteering in her classes. I knew exactly what they were doing in class, and I absolutely hated the homework she brought home. Because, I knew most of the work sent home was review, not new stuff!

    Old stuff, over and over and over. All this teaches a kid: school sucks, it's boring.

    Meanwhile, I was trying to teach her the other very important things in life: Be honest. Be kind. Share. How to swim. Listen. How to cook. How to have a conversation. How to ride a bike. Delayed gratification (a *big* one). How to throw a baseball. Care for animals. How to skip a stone across a lake. I could go on and on...she's 17 and I'm still not done teaching these things!

    You know, teachers have our kids for, what, 6 or 7 hours a day? A working parent gets them for only 3 or 4 hours, and there's a lot to teach in that time. I *hate* that my parenting time was infringed upon teachers, who wanted my daughter to do silly busy work. A parent has valuable lessons to teach too! We shouldn't be asked to do their job, we have a big enough job as it is.

    I was very close and involved to my daughter's early education, I saw no value in massive homework assignments. Just my observation.
  4. Nov 20, 2009 #3
    Sucking up is one of the most important lessons too :biggrin: I haven't observed a case where someone becomes competent by working at the problem only once. Nether, I have a seen a place where you don't require to repeat things over and over again at all.

    Children at 9 learn some of the very important things (arithmetic calculations grammar) which they will be using through out their lives. It's important that they learn it very well.

    When I was a kid, I would continue doing same thing over and over again continuously until I become competent in it (sometimes which was like more than 50 times).
  5. Nov 20, 2009 #4


    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    Where does he say this? A different website?

    I agree though in some sense. Sometimes teachers do just give out busy work... however, math would be one of the last places "busy work" should really be a complaint. You don't need to practice history or practice social studies, but things like mathematics and art need practice! I can't imagine someone doing well in their educational careers if they just learn then slightly try to actually do it. I never got good at calculus just by reading the textbook and doing 3 problems and calling it finished.
  6. Nov 20, 2009 #5
    on the tv segment on the story. there are two clips on the website; one .ram & one not. the .ram clip might have that part in it but it won't work for me.
  7. Nov 20, 2009 #6

    Vanadium 50

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Education Advisor
    2017 Award

    Where is the part about the lawsuit?
  8. Nov 20, 2009 #7


    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    I actually don't see a problem here. This seems to me to be a great social experiment. If the kids fail (and I fully expect them to), then the theory of homework is affirmed and the issue dies, right?
  9. Nov 20, 2009 #8


    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    Yah this theory really fails epically when I see college students try it.
  10. Nov 20, 2009 #9
    Homework overload is actually a serious issue. One of the reasons children do not do their homework or do poorly at it are probably that they have to spend several hours at school each day and then go home and spend several more hours doing homework. When I was in high school I had this issue in most of my classes. In math we would be given 20-30 problems to do which had to be finished, I usually could not finish during class, and then we would be given another 50+ problems to do at home. That was a good hour or two worth of homework for me right there not considering the homework I was given in all of my other classes. I rarely finished my algebra home work and was nearly failing the class because of it so they scheduled me for remedial math for my next semester. I took the final exam and passed my algebra class with a 'B' and probably would have had an 'A' if it had not been for marks off for not doing all of that homework. And I never asked to be moved back to algebra because I did not want to have to deal with hours upon hours of homework every night.
  11. Nov 20, 2009 #10


    User Avatar
    Homework Helper
    Gold Member

    I'm against homework. It's rare I meet a professor or teacher who knows how to properly choose questions.

    I'm marking for an instructor who gives 60 question assignments. I have to force him to cutback because I'm refusing to mark them.

    Volume is good but if the teacher gives all the volume, this give NO opportunity at all for the student to choose his or her own questions to do, or learn using their own method because you're busy doing so many questions the teacher assigned.

    Also, the culture regarding school also has changed. School is a means to get a job. No longer a means to get an education. (Education to me is to gain knowledge for the sake of.)
  12. Nov 20, 2009 #11
    This sounds like something that would happen in America. :)

    I must not be nearly as smart as these two. If I only did the examples in class, there is absolutely no way I'd be passing any of my classes. I don't see how it is possible to pass something like math with no homework.

    But then again, these kids aren't too far along with their studies. On that note, I'd love to see how they fare later in life when they have no studying skills at all because they've never been required to do work outside of the classroom.
  13. Nov 20, 2009 #12
    I was terrible for not doing homework when I was in school. I also passed on high test marks in every class that did not grade mostly on homework.

    Today I love to read and spend my time learning. I think I have learned quite a bit since I left school and I never even went to college.

    I am also dyslexic, so that may have something to do with it. Homework always took so much time and effort that it drained me before I was even halfway through. When I nearly failed out of high school because of a class that I could not test through I went to adult school and finished the class on my own in half the alloted time. No home work there since we were not even permitted to take the materials out of the class room. I even took an extra class while I was there just for fun.
  14. Nov 20, 2009 #13
  15. Nov 20, 2009 #14


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    If the homework was indeed poorly selected "busy work," I don't think the solution was to have NO homework. Rather, more carefully selected, challenging, reasonable assignments to reinforce the material taught during that day's class would be appropriate.

    Some teachers do assign busy work, but also many parents don't appreciate the need to practice problems on one's own to really grasp the concepts appropriately. Though, in grade school, there's no need to be assigning 20 or 30 or 50 math problems for homework. A set of 10 problems representative of the day's work should be sufficient, and perhaps have an additional set available if a parent requests that their kid needs more practice on a certain type of problem, or if the teacher identifies that a student is weak in an area.
  16. Nov 20, 2009 #15


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    That's another important point. If a kid is REALLY slow doing their homework, it is worth seeing how much they really are being assigned and if it should take that long. If they are taking much longer than expected, evaluation for a learning disability might be appropriate, or if that's not the issue, perhaps some remediation of some incompletely learned basic concepts that are slowing their progress.

    When I was in school, most of my friends got their homework done during lunch or between other classes. That just didn't work for me, so I always had more actual take-home homework than they did, but then when I got home, it also took longer because I'd watch after-school cartoons while doing my homework, so wasn't paying 100% attention to the work. I was allowed to do that as long as the homework got done.
  17. Nov 21, 2009 #16
    I agree with the parents. Mindless drill should be confined to the classroom while homework is restricted to learning the subject matter that the teacher is incapable of understanding. That way the child can ask the parents to help out, thus exposing the parents to potential ridicule. If the purpose of homework is to extend the number of hours that the child is exposed to learning, then you could keep the schools open longer hours or during the summer. Therefore, I conclude that the purpose of homework is something else. It has no analog in anything I have encountered in my work life. Perhaps it is meant to teach the children in no uncertain terms that their betters can walk all over them to the point of depriving them of play time, the true occupation of a child. Is there anyone here who has taken a course in elementary education and can tell us the real purpose of homework?
  18. Nov 21, 2009 #17
    I never did my homework if I didn't have to and I did well in school... The only work I would do was stuff like labs/assignments/essays. None of this 'practice until you run out of pencils' type of stuff, had better things to do and I already understood the process so why bother? Yeah I probably could have continued to practice it until I could probably do it extremely quickly in my head but what difference does it make? I'm not going to school to become a mathmatician I'm going to school to learn the concepts and be able to use them. (This is mostly just at russ's post about how he expects the kid to fail)

    As for not giving the kid homework I don't know it's kind of a hard situation for us to judge since we don't know the kid. Like after I was taught something in math I automatically understood it. When the teacher would continually try to drill it into the classes head it just bored me and made me hate being in school (even though she was doing it for the rest of the class to understand it). So maybe some students need homework more so than others and this child might be one of the lucky few who does not need homework.

    This is actually why homework is not allowed to be graded for completion in Ontario. Same with notebooks etc. (Some students take 2 word jot notes and some write 5 pages how do you grade who's notebook is best? Some students don't even have notebooks lol)
  19. Nov 21, 2009 #18
    Who needs homework? We need more lazy kids with no character in our society. Work ethic? That's for the illegal aliens and jobs that go overseas. All our kids need to do is just enough to get by. Be glad they show up for class once in awhile and allow our schools go collect tax dollars and keep our teachers in a job as our babysitters while we work, or look for work, or whatever we do nowadays.
  20. Nov 21, 2009 #19
    When my Son was in grade 4, the teacher sent homework that took hours to do, almost daily. School, homework, dinner, homework and then bedtime. It was just a few months of this, then my child began acting out of line. He was so stressed that even sleeping became difficult. His work became sloppy, and much of it was wrong. He no longer cared, as long as he had the papers to turn in.

    I did complain that it was unhealthy for a child not to be able to play and interact with friends. While the principle agreed it was too much work, he did nothing to help. So everyday, I sorted his work, picked about 1 hours worth {which seems reasonable}, then I checked it and if it all was good quality, he was free to spend the rest of his time playing.

    His grades suffered, but I really did not care.
  21. Nov 21, 2009 #20


    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    Consolidation of knowledge. Teacher should introduce new ideas, HW should help to digest them.

    Not that I have a course in elementary education, but I am dealing on the daily basis with people who do.
Know someone interested in this topic? Share this thread via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook

Similar Discussions: Calgary dad wins no-homework lawsuit for his kids
  1. Ridiculous Lawsuits (Replies: 11)