Wednesday, December 07, 2011


In my "past life" I was like pretty much everyone. When a conversation arose and I believed myself to hold relevant information or experience concerning the subject, I would be eager to get my two cents in. It was a very normal ego thing.

These days it's interesting that I usually feel no compulsion to do that around most people. I normally expect that my perspectives are now so different from the norm that there is little point in trying to sell them to confirmed matrix-dwellers. I'm in the regular habit of remaining meek and quiet and letting people trust their feelings and their acquired misinformation and remain comfortably unchallenged. It's one of the very joyful and freeing manifestations of an ego that has been diminished by a strengthened consciousness.

Today though, at the Princess of Schools I decided to speak out to a teacher about my view of homework despite the likelihood that it would not be well received.

I told her that never would any theoretical child of mine be permitted to do homework. I explained that I couldn't imagine viewing a school system as my child's primary educator rather than myself, and that, as a secondary educator, it is ludicrous that a school system be privileged to dictate what my child will do on MY time!

And no, I'm not naively thinking that as a parent I would have all the free time in the world to spend every evening with my kids poring over a set of encyclopedias. Whether I was with my kid at any given time or not, I would approve of a tremendous number of useful activities that would be valuable to their intellectual, physical and/or emotional growth while being properly compatible with my own child's particular interests and talents and prefer him doing such activities rather than memorizing so-called-facts and formulas to be regurgitated at exams and then promptly forgotten.

Memories of my own school experiences are of limited relevance, yes, given the time lapse and the inherent dysfunction of human memory, however those memories are dismal enough in terms of what I now regard as an unenlightened misguided curriculum that I can not possibly today generate enough confidence in the Ontario Board of Education to surrender a young human being to their clutches for any more than the 6-hour-per-day sentence imposed by law. What's that? About 15,000 hours through to grade 12? That's somewhere in the neighborhood of a multiple murder conviction, isn't it?

I was surprised at the teacher's reaction. Her own kids, considered "good" kids and disciplined kids by any normal standards, habitually arrive home from school and promptly complete their homework without being asked. Despite that pleasant fact, she is not a fan of homework herself. In her view, as a teacher, homework is a way to give better grades to the students whose parents do their homework for them and punish those whose parents don't. Apparently the cheaters get away with it but without fooling anyone.

As a child and teenager myself, I almost never did my homework and almost never studied for exams. Thus in high school I scored terrible marks for projects and exams but still scored decent grades by acing quizzes and tests. I had all kinds of difficult issues growing up and I got through it all by playing sports, reading novels and engaging myself in a great host of imaginative pursuits. Had I given up a lot of those experiences by doing homework instead I have no doubt I'd have grown up a sadder, less intelligent, less enlightened human being and certainly more selfish and less caring; no doubt whatsoever. I also might have grown up less lazy. Oh well. Can't win 'em all.

Granted, all people are unique. My experience may not have been common.

I wonder what "normal" parents do? Do you question this whole idea of homework or do you just assume it is legitimate because you had to do it when you were a kid? I wonder what percentage of parents have gone to visit a school principal and said, "Sorry, dude. But six hours a day is all you get with my kid. I suggest you make the most of it."

I look at kids who are making their way to school carrying giant textbooks and binders in addition to their lunch, musical instrument, gym clothes and what-not and I imagine they're going to live to be 90 given the medical advancements of their generation but spend their last 60 years with broken backs.

Here's an idea for schools: Why don't you teach kids how to carry things without risking bodily harm?

Want another? How about you teach kids how to not let credit cards ruin their lives?

How about you teach them the realities of the global marketplace and how diabolically greedy our society is for mortgaging the earth out from under the feet of the majority of earth's peoples as well as our own doomed descendants?

How about you teach them the difference between truth (experience) and testimony (traditional schooling?)

How about you teach them the most significant of realities; the stunning miraculous rarities of this planet, life itself and the human imagination?

How about you teach them about the most absolutely vital two criteria for finding any truth in life whatsoever: The omnipresence and omnipotence of cause-and-effect and the absolute necessity of the universal perspective (context) in all legitimate thought?

How about you teach them how to think for themselves instead of what to think?

I got a hundred more ideas if you're interested.

And if you are in fact teaching them these things, than I apologize and applaud you. But if not, you're not qualified to be dishing out homework in any household of mine.*

This said, I hope that none of the teachers and principals I know personally will take offence should they read this. They're all thoughtful and caring people who do the best they can given a hell of a challenging task! I don't know how they even find time to sleep.

*The above writer does not actually possess any households. It's the thought that counts!

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