On the Necessity of Parents’ Doing their Children’s Homework.

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As I said in the previous post, rebellion is in the air. A rebellion against the oppression of homework and the tyrannous teachers who spoil the quality of students’ life assigning it. However, while analyzing these vigorous movements, I have realized that here in Italy, as usual, there is an anomaly. In fact, they do not seem to be grown out of the necessity of those “ill-treated” students, as it would be normal to assume, but rather, their parents’. It seems a kind of weird, I know, but it actually explains the nature of the phenomenon and why this generation of parents feels haunted and frustrated about homework habit: THEY do their children’s homework, that is all .

pin3Of course, I cannot but unconditionally sympathize with them, as that was the “duty comes before pleasure and leisure” generation, my generation. Our parents would  have never dreamed of questioning the necessity of homework or openly criticizing teachers and I would have never dreamed of complaining with them about the loads of work to do. Had I tried, their only solution would have taken the form of the reduction of my extra activities, which I didn’t want, of course, therefore ; I tried to organize myself the best I could and in a way or another, I managed to survive. Hence; not only these parents were regularly and unquestionably in the habit of doing their own homework, but  somehow, they feel compelled to do their children’s as well, sparing them the trouble of doing it, but why?

Of course, it cannot be pure masochism, as it would seem at first glance. Therefore; I can only guess that if, after a long, tiring day, those parents are still willing to take books, pens and paper to live their old homework doing nightmare again, their drives must be powerful indeed and from my experience I can single out two of them in particular: fear of failure and lack of time, better known as “let’s find a shortcut”.

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This happens, because  homework is generally considered only as the boring acquisition of notions, but it is not or at least it shouldn’t. Homework, actually, concerns the consolidation of what has been done in class and above all, work organization. Hence; those parents who constantly help their children do/organize their homework, actually, don’t trust them. They don’t let them grow and test their own learning method and besides they might undermine their self-esteem, as the subliminal message given is that without their help they would not be able to reach the goal otherwise. Believe me, this is how it works.

I have witnessed my sister-in-law for years, undergoing all this since first grade. Her constant presence had made the time dedicated to homework odious for my nephew and disappointing for her (and the entire family as well). Year after year, he had learnt to accomplish his duty only to avoid his mother’s pressures and shouts or to please her. Therefore;  homework was something pointless with a lot of drama added every day, which he did only for her mother and not for him. When she could not help him any longer, guess what? He failed, because in all those years he had not learnt how to manage his time, as her mother did it for him and worst af all, he had not developed any effective learning method. He had only learnt notions which were soon forgotten once the minimum goal was achieved.

For what concerns parents’ habit of doing homework as a sort shortcut to finish sooner, this point cannot be understood if we don’t comprehend how  adolescents have changed in time. The life of an average student nowadays is, let me say: busy. Teenagers practice at least one sport three or four times a week plus other extra activities of any kind, spend a lot of time facebooking, whatsapping, playing with video games, hanging out etc., hence; it seems difficult to find any extra, quality time for any additional effort. The point is that their parents are just fine about it, they are happy to see their children “have a life” (I’m employing the words they used in the many letters of complaint) and don’t want this routine to be spoilt,  that’s why they often replace their children in doing their homework.

My dear parents, you’ll be surprised, but I also think that your children need to have a life, all teachers work in order that they might have the best life possible, but we can’t do this without parents’ support. Let’s try to co-operate for once so that WE might have a life, as well. Therefore; stop doing their homework, and help them only if they ask you. Let them  “err“, “fall” and learn from their mistakes so that one day they might “find open before” them” the gates of all the ways of error and glory. On and on and on and on!” (A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man)

The wisdom of cowardice

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applejudgeThere is one aspect of my job that really annoys me: rules. As a teacher I have to make sure that my students give the due respect to the place and the people they interact with every single day. There is nothing wrong, I know, however in recent times, fewer and fewer families seem to be aware of the fact that teachers and parents share one great goal: the success of their children. We should co-operate for their “Bildung”, the making of their personalities as future men and women, even teaching them the importance and the necessity of following rules, rather than being considered the enemies that crush the image that a parent has of his child. That’s why recently I have started to hear voices. Yes, voices. Whenever I see a student smoking near a big NO SMOKING sign, or using their mobile in class and all the other things students shouldn’t do at school, it seems as if I heard somebody whisper: “Uhmmm, troubles!!! Ignore him! Turn your back and go away! Mind your own business!!!” Of course, I can’t follow this advice, even if sometimes I would and I can tell you, it is very sound advice.

Boy using a cell phoneThis episode happened in Forlì, central Italy, only few days ago. A teacher caught a boy, age 12, while he was watching porn pictures on his smart phone in class. The teacher diligently confiscated the smart phone and urged the presence of one parent to get it back. Nothing strange so far. I guess, nobody would have wished to be in those parents’ shoes, just picturing the tone of that meeting. However, the next day the boy’s mother did show up and she was no alone. She was in the company of a lawyer, as she had resolved to protect his child charging the scrupulous teacher with theft. It seems to be a paradoxical situation, but this gives a clue on how the school system works nowadays, at least here in Italy.

After having heard what the teacher had to say, the loving mother heartily defended his son saying that after all those pictures weren’t that hard as the starring lady was not completely naked, but was wearing a loincloth. It’s not a joke, this episode was actually reported by the mayor of Forlì, Roberto Balzani, on his Facebook page, who commented:

“Parents nowadays don’t accept the punishments inflicted on their children, maybe because they have never received one or maybe because they can’t (or don’t want) read the truth…..with our principals besieged by unscrupulous lawyers and  desperate teachers, students try to take advantage of the false protection of their parents. The truth is that  planet school has been attacked by a devastating virus.”

 

Hadn’t I told you that my little” voice” was a very sound voice? 😉