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Journalist Karl Taro Greenfeld is well-known for his reporting on Asia. However, in a recent article in The Atlantic, Greenfeld wrote about the experience of doing his daughter’s homework for one week.
He was alarmed by how much homework she was being assigned, and gave himself the challenge of doing the assignments alongside her. He found it incredibly difficult, as the headline of his piece suggests: “My Daughter’s Homework Is Killing Me.”
Greenfeld joins Here & Now to discuss his article, and the reaction to it.
Interesting but unreasonable
“The takeaway from it, for one thing, there is an awful lot of homework. And the content of that homework varies very widely from stuff that is very thought-provoking, that I found interesting and challenging, to stuff that seems a lot more like busywork that is very difficult to get done in a reasonable amount of time.”
Memorization versus comprehension
“We were doing earth sciences and she had written down some notes that I found incomprehensible. So I asked her…‘What does this actually mean?’ and she looked at me and said, ‘memorization not rationalization, dad.’ And I think a lot of kids face this, is that their time is so crunched, they just have to choose and triage and say ‘You know what? When it comes to this subject, I’m going to memorize, I’m going to understand just enough to get through it, and that’s good enough.’ In Spanish class, especially, she decided ‘You know what? I’m just going to understand enough to get through these tests. I’m going to use Google Translate…to get through a lot of my homework, and that is just what that’s going to be.’”
A strong curriculum
“It was a really impressive curriculum, and if she could somehow take aboard all that material, she would emerge a very well-rounded and interesting person. So on the one hand, I fault them for the, what I consider sometimes, an excessive workload. On the other hand, I have to give credit in saying ‘these people are really trying their best to mold interesting and intelligent people.’”