* What is homework?

To my nephew, Isaac, homework is “tor-tradition,” meaning torture + tradition.  See?  He has some math sense and lots of common sense.  Poor Isaac.  As third grade has shifted into hypermode to prepare for the end of grade tests, he has been left dangling. There’s not enough time for remediation after school, not with the tor-traditional piles of homework.  Fortunately, he has a flexible teacher who is now willing to let him move through the multiplication.com system of learning his times tables.  After months of trying more traditional (and yes, torturous approaches), I switched to Alan Walker‘s language- and association-based approach.  It has paid off bigtime for Isaac, providing him with a dose of much-needed confidence.  But is it too little and too late?


Isaac would benefit from a formal educational and psychological evaluation.  He appears to have serious weaknesses in auditory processing skills, along with attention, working memory, and long term memory issues.  His success in reading fluency camouflages many of his weaknesses.  Sometimes both teachers, parents, and kids think everything is fine if you can read above grade level.  Ouch.  Try giving Isaac multistep directions and watch the confusion.  And like many twice exceptional kids, Isaac’s mental energy has been fried to a crisp after half a day of school.  His teachers report that he spends his afternoons in silence, never responding and apparently inattentive.  At home, he screams and bangs his head when it’s time for homework.  Torture indeed.

I don’t think it’s too late for this sweet kiddo.  He is eager to learn, responds well to instruction in incremental steps, and has enough curiosity for an entire classroom.  And he can do a perfect Patrick or Spongebob imitation.  Isaac can go far, especially if a certain tortuous traditions can be axed.

9 thoughts on “* What is homework?

  1. In Hong Kong, students have to do an overwhelming number of homework everyday. In both elementary and high school, there are at least 12 types of homework per day and a lot more during Fridays and holidays. Before summer vacation, students would receive 8 to 10 thick workbooks which they need to answer and submit at the start of the next school year…

    Some schools have tried to reduce the number of homework their teachers give, but guess what? The parents of those students loudly complained. They say some things like, “My friend’s son always have 15 homework or more, so why did my son only have 7 homework?!”

    It’s so unfortunate…

    Liked by 1 person

    • Wow. That’s tough. Don’t they also have a longer school day? Even in the states, many parents push for homework so their kids can stay “ahead” academically. But for kids with disabilities, it’s the wrong approach. And there’s increasing evidence that all students are too stressed in that kind of environment. Is that kind of stress evident in Hong Kong? I can’t imagine 8 notebooks of summer work!! Thanks for sharing.

      Liked by 1 person

      • School day here is 8 am to 3:30 pm. I’m not sure if it’s long compared to the US.

        That’s the case in HK as well. However, I also think that some of these parents just don’t want their friends to one-up them. It’s like “my friend’s son has 15 homework a day so my son should have as much or even more homework.” It’s sort of become some kind of ludicrous competition driven by ego…

        It’s sad to say that the situation in schools for children with disability is just as bad…

        Studying in HK is not a great experience. You have to study at a famous kindergarten to be able to study at a good elementary school. That’s the same process for entering a good high school. Due to the limited number of schools, the competition is very fierce.

        Then during the last year of high school, all students take a difficult exam given by the government (called HKDSE) with a passing rate of 35 to 40%. Of the ones who passed, only about half of them would be able to study at a university.

        It’s all about competition in HK so it’s no surprise that many students are very stressed. It’s normal to hear students who commit suicide every year after the result of the DSE is released.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Wow. What a pressure cooker approach to schooling. I wonder how they fare compared to kids around the world? I might check on that. I do see some of those forces at work here in the states but it’s often driven by the wealthiest families who can afford private schools and private tutors.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Hong Kong consistently ranks high in comparison to other countries in the world. For instance,


        This isn’t only limited to math and science and math since they also rank high in other subjects.

        But that is the problem. Educators would use these results to justify their practice. They said that their way of doing things have produced good results. While I agree to a certain extent since I was also one of the straight A’s students back then, I don’t think that their methods are effective for all types of students. How about those students who can’t cope with the pressure? They just don’t care about them as long as the majority performed well enough.

        And in HK, you can’t just apply to any university program that you want. The number of points that you get in the HK government-provided examination will dictate which program you can apply to. I don’t know what system they use today, but back then, A+ is equivalent to 5 points and there are 8 exams (a total of 40 points). If you want to go to Law school, you at least need 30 pts. For Medical school, 36 pts. So, when I got 40 pts., and didn’t go to a Medical school, so many people have objected… They just can’t understand that I don’t want to become a doctor.

        My situation was good, since I could choose whatever program I want. However, those who want to become doctors but only got 35 pts. or less can only fulfill their dreams by applying to a university overseas.

        Liked by 1 person

      • That reminds me of the old 11+ system in England, where you took exams at that age which basically determined if you would go to college or into a trade. I’m glad you survived the system! So instead of medicine, what path have you chosen? (And thanks for the link!)

        Liked by 1 person

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