Homework: When a dad tried doing his daughter's homework for a week to understand why she was up all night, he learns there may be no point. Has homework reached a tipping point?
Mary Knox Merrill / The Christian Science Monitor
“Memorization, not rationalization.”
That's the credo at the core of Karl Taro Greenfeld's story in this month's Atlantic about doing his 13-year-old daughter's homework for a week. The motto is her guide for surviving the hours upon hours of work required of her after hours upon hours of school, and it reflects the truth at the core of the exercises she plows through: an emphasis on the sheer volume of rote labor.
He dramatizes the problem in one succinct, powerful paragraph:
One evening when Esmee was in sixth grade, I walked into her room at 1:30 a.m. to find her red-eyed, exhausted, and starting on her third hour of math. This was partially her fault, as she had let a couple of days’ worth of worksheets pile up, but it was also the nature of the work itself. One assignment had her calculating the area and perimeter of a series of shapes so complex that my wife, who trained as an architect in the Netherlands, spent half an hour on it before coming up with the right answers.