Homework Headaches (And Why I Will Never Become A 4th Grade Teacher)


Tuesday night is the absolute WORST night of television ever…so I was reading stuff on the internet again. I HATE when I do that because there are so many better options on the internet and yet it’s the boob tube that pays my bills but ya know what…I can’t help it that 97% of what’s on tv is crap so…I read. Occasionally.

But I digress…

So I got reading THIS article about kids and failure. Lately there has been much conversation of failure in our home. Our son is in 4th grade. For those of you who do not have children but somehow managed to make it past 4th grade or those of you who have kids but do not remember that special time in your child’s life, let me refresh your memory…4th grade sucks. And I say this without malice but with a very strong opinion. 4th grade SUUUUUUCKS HUGE and here are 5 reason why……….

Screw that. It just SUCKS. Period. And the main reason? It is setting our son up for failure. And the reason I think this is because if I don’t understand half of the crap my son is bringing home for homework, how can HE do it? Right?

Well…no. That’s not right actually. Okay…we all knew the 4th grade was gonna be tough. Last year, we had parent after parent tell us that the 4th grade is a lot more difficult and homework would increase substantially. So THAT we were prepared for. But we had no idea that it was gonna be like this! Wait…let me rephrase…I wasn’t prepared for it. I want to reiterate…I, in NO WAY, am going to implicate that my wife had any preconceived notions of what the 4th grade experience would be for my son because, quite frankly, she is not here and she has been doing most of his homework with him. So she might have an entirely different opinion on this topic. So this post is COMPLETELY MINE AND DOES NOT REFLECT ON STEPHANIE IN THE LEAST! But I cannot take it anymore. I HATE homework time. Yes…hate IS a strong word but I can’t stop myself…HATEHATEHATEHATEHATEHATE! And the reason I hate it?

Mostly because I don’t remember HALF of this stuff from when I was in the 4th grade…that’s why. So now I have to RELEARN all of the things I should already know and it’s like I’m BACK in the 4th grade again. This, in turn, is as frustrating for him as it is for me. It’s a very volatile situation and as the time passes and I try to relearn all of this obviously VERY IMPORTANT STUFF that I’ve somehow forgotten, I can see Christopher struggling with the pace of my relearning process.

So for those of you who skipped the above link, what the writer of “I Want My Kids To Fail” is saying is that it is through failure that our kids learn and that we shouldn’t be giving them all the answers. Safe to say…I do NOT give my son all the answers because I don’t KNOW the answers. Yesterday, he spent probably more than 4 hours studying for a science test on matter and density and mass and a bunch of other stuff (how’s THAT for descriptive. “Other stuff?” Nice…). I tried my best to give him knowledgeable questions and ask him things that I felt would be a part of his test today and he answered most of them in a manner which led me to believe that he actually might have a grasp on it. Then he took an online “quiz” and he started guessing so I said, “Let’s take a break.” So we did. Then about an hour later he started reading his book again and going over science words. And that’s about when I lost interest.

Look…I love my son. Hell…I love BOTH of my kids. And I do not want to see them fail in life. However I have to agree with the author of the post linked above (which you really SHOULD read if you have kids) when he says “It is only when they fail that they have an opportunity to pick themselves back up.  It is only when they fail that they learn to work hard.  It is only when they fail that they learn what doesn’t work.  It is only when they fail that they learn that sometimes people need help.  It is only when they fail that they learn empathy for others struggling.   It is only when they fail that they learn that life is not always fair.  It is only when they fail that they understand what being human is.”

This quote makes complete sense to me. I have failed at many things in my lifetime and I hope that I never am such an asshole to think that I know it all. Just trying to help Christopher with his math equations pretty much proves that I very much do NOT know it all. A little failure goes a long way to show a child that they can still get back up and work harder. There is much that has been written about today’s generation being the “Instant Gratification” generation. Well…I don’t believe that. Today’s children only want the exact same things we wanted when we were kids. They want whatever their parents will give them. Just because they ASK for something doesn’t mean we have to give it to them. And the same goes for homework answers.

So to summarize…failure is NOT a personality trait. It is with failure that a child learns how to succeed. Christopher HAS been trying. 4 hours studying for a science test in some capacity should count for something. He informed me today that he didn’t think he did very well on the test but that he hadn’t gotten a grade yet. Either way, when I asked him what the 3 states of matter were, he knew without looking it up. If he comes home with a D or an A, I’m still going to love him all the same. And I keep hoping that the competitive nature he has in sports will show up in the classroom when one of his buddies has a better grade than he does. I know it bugs him…and I know he’ll try even harder next time because that’s the kind of kid he is.

I, on the other hand, STILL can’t explain what “density” is…

This is MY failure.

And I’m okay with that…

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3 Responses to Homework Headaches (And Why I Will Never Become A 4th Grade Teacher)

  1. Judi says:

    5th grade is some kind of crazy around here. I have no ability to help my child at times, the way they are taught things, especially mathematics, has changed greatly. I had to write a note to my 5th grader’s teacher saying “I had no ability to help him explain his answer, because although I could get the final answer, you asked for a specific method of doing so which I was unfamiliar with” He has “Sunshine Math” worksheets that are weekly requirements. He came home and got a 17/25 on his last one, he stated “My father reviewed every one and said it looked right to him.” So, no, if we cannot help with our fancy college degrees, then they are going to fail, and that is okay. And they get street cred “Hey my mom &/or dad didn’t even know it.”

  2. Ken Budd says:

    First note: as a math teacher for thirteen years I missed out on “new math” while I was off doing college so as some of my students later told me their parents didn’t understand it either… so new or old math or even Sunshine Math 2 + 2 still equals 4
    Secondly – Alan would the nuns you had in fourth grade think failure was an option and/or good for you??
    Third and lastly – would Dr. Lepp accept this failure philosophy???

    HAng in there Alan!!!!!!

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