Thursday, December 09, 2010

Dumbest Homework Ever.

I was out with Kelly this evening, and just came home to see what carnage the boys had wreaked in my absence.

Ah, the house is quiet. Not a creature is stirring, except for the boys' little fingers as they dance across the computer in the case of Skip, and as they fidget with a pencil in the case of Nate.

Nate is sprawled in the hallway, his homework laid out in front of him, and a blank sheet of paper staring up at him.

He looks forlorn as I ask him what's up.

Turns out he has just one more writing assignment to do, and it's due tomorrow (oh, it's always the thing that is due tomorrow that gives them grief, isn't it? Unless it's the assignment that is DUE TODAY, OMGOMGOMGOMGOMG!)

Anyways, I ask him if I can help him, and he says, on the verge of tears, "I just don't know what to write!"

Now, this is a common complaint heard in our house, as neither of the boys claims to have much of an infatuation with the written word. But I thought I might be able to nip the word-hating in the bud with Nate, if I just give him extra attention, so I say "Well, let's look at what you have to do..."

Oh, look. It's simple enough. It says "Write a comparison of a DOG and a MOUSE. Write about the ways they are THE SAME, and the ways they are DIFFERENT.'

Now, doesn't that seem straightforward to you?

It seems pretty easy to me (but then again, I'm not in 3rd grade), until Nate says "But MOM! You have to USE THE SPELLING WORDS in your writing!"

And he says that like it's a bad thing. I think using spelling words is a GREAT way to reinforce the words, their meanings, and their spellings.

Now, let's take a look at this spelling list.

And here is where the mind boggles.

Ladies and gentlemen, how would you compare and contrast a DOG and a MOUSE if you had to use the following words in your comparison:


(and, for those over-achievers, we have the two Challenge Words that can be used:


I swear, I thought my head would explode.

If I had been given that assignment at his age, I'd probably be still sitting at my desk at school, head bowed, tears streaming down my cheeks (I didn't handle pressure well when I was in 3rd grade).

I do not fault the teacher here. This is an assignment on a sheet from their state-sanctioned (and mandated) Language Arts text book.

So, while trying not to look like I'd just been told to go hunting for aliens in the back yard, I gave him a few ideas, and set him loose. I really enjoy reading stuff that he writes in his own voice, as he has a way of writing that is complete different from his siblings, and a very nice conversational style.

Here's what he came up with:

Let's COUNT the ways a dog and a mouse are the same.

Are they both SOFT? Yes.

Can they both TALK? No.

Do they both have a MOUTH? Yes.

Do they have LAWS? No.

Not bad for coming out of an hour-long funk when you thought you'd never be able to write anything down, and then the teacher would keep you in at recess, and your week would be ruined, and everyone else will have done the work, so they'll all get to do fun stuff, and you'll have to repeat third grade.

And yes, my brain would have gone there in 3rd grade, too, so I'm glad to know that the apple doesn't fall far from the tree.

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