Oh, how I hate that expression, the suggestion that things were better in the 40s/50s/60s/70s/80s/90s/last weekend/one minute ago. They weren’t. Period. Sure there are some things that are less satisfactory than whenever, but in most areas… anyway, I’m off my high horse and I want to prove the lie in the above statement.
Viz, homework. And especially homework for the primary school (eg, for those who don’t have primary but some other version) kids under eleven.
On the radio today, a well(ish) known celeb was bemoaning how her children were required to do homework as soon as they started school at 4-5. Mine were the same. As parents (to be fair, I hid in the office so this mostly fell to Mrs LP) we negotiated our way around persuading/bribing/pleading/threatening our two to do the requisite tasks. Some were short and painful; others – building a sodding Roman fort being one egregious example – merely a competition between parents.
Both then, but echoed today, I recalled my childhood. We did not have homework. At all. It was a ghastly rite of passage when we moved to our secondary school aged 11. We may have had to bring in something for a lesson and we did have to learn, rote, a variety of times tables up to 12 times. Maybe a spelling test occasionally. But not a daily diet of post-school tyranny. We came home. We played. We got bored. We fought each other. A totally normal childhood and funnily enough it didn’t hold me back.
Now there is always an exception, both then and now (as said celeb acknowledged). Reading both to and with your children. Not scripted by school but chosen between partners and child. I loved that; I often left work with a bag of papers so I could be home to read to the twosome and then go back the office (which was a sort of sewing room with a table). The advent of an Ethernet link was (almost) a godsend, when it wasn’t shite. I managed to read all Harry Potter to them, even though the oldest was at least 17 by the time Deathly Hallows landed on the doorstep.
And it didn’t do them any harm. Well, if you accept that they are now addicted to audible books…
I do wonder when it came in and which Education Secretary of State thought, what a wizard idea.- alright class which one of you did that? – and why it continues? According to some educator on the same radio piece, the evidence is all against homework, apart from the reading bit having a positive affect on children’s learning. Probably a little of the ‘we had to suffer from this, so you can to’ mentality.
So it was better in my day. As Pink Floyd memorably said, ‘Leave the kids alone’.
I’m now off to read to Dog.