TOO MUCH HOMEWORK?


While I was strolling at the fast food section at a mall in a predominantly Chinese suburb north of the city Friday night, I chanced upon a bulletin board ad that enjoined parents to explore the power of Image Abacus, a system of brain power development based on the principles of abacus calculation. This method of mental acrobatics supposedly develops all sides of the brain works wonders with the person’s intuitive thinking, enhances problem solving skills and memory retention. The program is pretty ambitious. To think that a person’s brain can be turned into a human calculator through virtual imagery of the abacus principle is truly mind boggling. Hmmm… I suppose this program makes geniuses out of ordinary kids, which starts at a very young age of 6 years, on to their trek towards the much coveted membership with Mensa International. I was grasping for an answer as to what would motivate me to turn my kid into some kind of a human robot. There is no doubt in my mind that there are people obsessed by the thought that the supreme satisfaction in their mission of propagating the homo sapien specie is to see their offspring become a genius. I wonder if this kind of motivation has something to do with the child or simply an expression of the parent’s vanity in that quest for fame, recognition and stature in society.

My curiosity about Image Abacus was still fresh and unabated when a Monday news item of a local newspaper struck me – HOMEWORK OVERLOAD UNDER MICROSCOPE”.

“No homework on the weekend, during March Break or even the Christmas holidays. Forget about tests on Mondays. No big assignments four days before exams.

While the proponents of Image Abacus suggest a rigorous training of the brain over and above the regular school curriculum, some people believe that children ought to be given more time to socialize and interact with family and community. School trustees in consultation with parents have come to a conclusion that school going children are being overloaded with homework and assigments to the point that the quality of their lives are being negatively affected. The trustees came up with a supposedly equitable formula that would balance study and home life – 10 minutes of homework per grade. In short a grade 1 student will have 10 mins of homework ; a grade 6 with 60 minutes. Here’s what parents say about the proposal. What is your opinion? Fair ? Not enough ?

IDOL CONTROVERSY

Poor Sanjaya Malakar. Not only did his hometown refuse the Idol producers request to hold a parade or a town hall type meeting to honor him, Ozzy Osbourne backed out at the last minute, refusing to do a duet with him at the Idol finals night. Canadian Idol judge Farley Flex blamed the American Idol judges of screwing up by including Sanjaya in the top 24. Flex said ; “Sanjaya was put in there by the judges, it wasn’t the public that put him in there – the public kept him in there, but they didn’t put him in there”.

The Canadian Idol is on its third week with a big change in the auditions this time. Contestants are allowed to play musical instrument of their choice at the auditions 🙂

VACATION

Darn, I’ve been trying to post the pics I’ve taken on our short vacation at the Adirondacks (Northern New York) on the first week of May. Blogging laziness had overtaken me lately. I did take my laptop on the trip and loaded my photos while on the trip. When I opened my laptop at the lodge where we stayed, I was able to scan an unsecure wireless access point in the neighborhood which I promptly hijacked 🙂 I was able to get to the internet, sent emails and blogged a bit. The wireless access-point had TINKER as its node ID. One day when I was at the golf club trying to confirm my tee off, a couple of elderly gentlemen came in. They were almost late and hurriedly proceeded to confirm their tee off time which was before mine. The pro shop clerk asked – ” under what name did you book your reservation? ” whereupon only of the guys replied ” TINKER”. LOL 🙂 I had no doubt the dude was the owner of the wireless access point I hijacked 🙂 He looked like he lived in the neighborhood close to the resort. I just smiled and murmured – thanks pal 🙂

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26 Responses

  1. I’m not so sure if it is of the same variety but we have a tutorial school here about Mental Arithmetic. Gee, parents and students swear by their method.

    It’s just too much for homework on weekends and holidays. Over here, parents have raised objection on too much homework. Of late, there had been a decrease in the number. My children don’t come home with loads of it anymore. I hope this is being addressed in all schools. Sometimes I can still read complaints from our local paper.

    lol @ hijacked wireless access point. I do that sometimes when I’m outside. 🙂

  2. There needs to be more abacus in the curriculum. hehe. It’s actually a cool invention. Whoever invented it was a genius. Hey, he invented the abacus, right? So he must be. 😀 But I wonder if the abacus theory really works… if it makes one a genius, that is.

    You’ve been tagged, btw! hehe

  3. I think Howard Stern had a lot to do with Sanjaya Malakar staying around longer than expected. So as to sabotage the popularity of American Idol, Stern urged his listeners to keep voting for him. Poor kid.

  4. Ipanema – I still recall the boatloads of books and homeworks I had when I was a grader until high school. When the student’s goal is just to have something to submit the following day because of the sheer number of deliverables, education quality can suffer 😦

    Re wireless access points – if you live near the downtown area here, very likely you don’t need to subscribe to internet access. There’s just so many unsecure wireless access you can hijack 🙂 I’m in the suburbs and I only have one neighbor who hasn’t secure his access point – yet hehe 🙂

  5. Wil – I am also intrigued by this Image Abacus thing.. BTW I already responded to two memes on weirdness for a total of 12 ! I’ll just do three to satisfy the 15 you’ve tagged me LOL 🙂

  6. Eric – yes, Howard Stern is partly responsible for Sanjaya’s prolonged stay at the top 10. I recall PhilAm Jasmine Trias a few years ago who reached the final top three because the state of Hawaii voted for her intensely and wanted her to win !

  7. My kids only get a fair amount of homework. I think I got a lot more when I was still studying in the Philippines.

  8. This Image Abacus idea looks like a good idea to me except that it focuses mostly on intelligence development rather than the wholity of education. I have always believed that the complete education is not merely based on what the textbooks have to say but also other inputs like the environment, human activities and conduct and of course recent experiences.

    Right balance should be had, as the proposal intends.

  9. Niceheart – that seems to be the case. In fairness though, very few people here have household help unlike in Pinas, where we have to take care of everything in the house. The burden of helping our kids with the overload of homework adds a lot of stress to our already stressful life we live !

  10. Major Tom – you are right in that academic intelligence isn’t everything. People forget that there is also such a thing as emotional intelligence and more often than not, it is our emotional intelligence that will take us to where we want to be in our careers 🙂

  11. ateneo de manila is one of the best school for boys in manila. am not really sure, but what i know is that on fridays, as much as possible they do not give homework. makes sense, give the boys their weekend!

  12. ozzy osbourne is a jerk. his pairing with sanjaya may have to do with his subpar talent anyways.

  13. That’s true. I don’t believe in too much homework.

    lol BW. You know who has an unsecured access point huh? 🙂

  14. SexyMom – that’s good news indeed. Is it just high school ? At least the boys will have a break during the weekend 🙂 I came from a boy’s school too and during our time, we had homework deluge esp during weekends 😦

  15. Irrealis – lol..there’s a grain of truth in what you said. Who would like to see Ozzy O perform in such a tame show as American Idol 🙂

  16. Ipanema – I shudder in disbelief when I was my nephews and nieces back home agonize through homeworks and difficult art/craft assignments. It becomes more of punishment than learning 😦

    There’s people who buy wireless routers, turn them on for use in a very open, unsecured state. These wireless routers broadcast their SSID or node name be default. If you turn the broadcast off, it is a tad safer but not the whole nine yards. At least in this way, only those wireless PC’s that know your node name can connect to you directly. The surest way is to turn the broadcast off and enable encryption and authentication so no one unathorized can hijack you:)

  17. – Btw, in the Philippines, we have this Kumon stuff that will supposedly help improve kid’s performance in reading and math. But I’m giving it the benefit of the doubt….

    – “Blogging laziness had overtaken me lately. I did take my laptop on the trip and loaded my photos while on the trip.” – I can relate so much. Hehehehehehehe 😀

  18. That has been my question to my wife when my kids were studying at science high school. They have so much load, 21 units at that. Their school seemed to be their house and their home is for sleeping, eating and studying and making their assignments.

    Aside from that, they have long hours in school, lots of reasearch and projects.

    Now that they are in college, I could see that it paid off since they do not need to adapt to rigorous college life.

    Kudos to my wife. she stopped working to assist my kids and she is the sole person who provided the the other aspects of life and humanity. my children are not turned into a complete nerds. They know how to enjoy life and being young.

  19. There was also an article in either Time or Newsweek about Asian kids being burnt out. Not only are they loaded with homework and stuff, but their extra-curricular activities are also too much… music lessons, sports, kumon, etc…. they have no more time for relaxing. I guess a lot of parents put their frustrations by making their kids become what they have failed at.

  20. We were also inundated with homework when I was in grade school, and it continued well into high school. But by then, I’ve already grown a pair of horns and a spiked tail, so I never did much of those at home, hehe. 😀

    I tried leeching for a wireless signal in my area but so far I got zilch… 😦

    As for that Sanjaya kid, at least he got his 15 minutes of fame, di ba? 😉

  21. I think that Image Abacus would be very helpful and I don’t think it really makes children become robots, it’s just one of those programs or a variety on how to utilize both sides of the brain. Ive been on some of those programs and the exercises they give an be quite surprising and amazing at the same time. You’ll never thought you’ll be able to do some things you thought you couldn’t do.

    As for Sanjaya, poor boy, he has somehow become a laughing stack in this year’s AI. Though he has some fans, it’s a bit different of popularity.

  22. Jeff – this is the first time I’ve heard of Kumon myself.

    You bet I’m lazy hehe 🙂 I’m going on another trip in July and I’m too lazy to post the pics of my trip last May. I’m just going to get a slide show of some sort. It takes too much time to even select the pics I want to post 🙂

  23. MyePinoy – your kids are lucky that your wife had managed them and instilled a sense of balance towards school and family life. There are kids out there who can be totally overwhelmed and give up on school and that’s the negative part of homework overload 😦

  24. Toe – I agree that burnout doesn’t only happen in academics but extra curricular as well! I know a kid whose parents insist on him getting into music and it doesn’t matter what instrument he plays. The poor kid chose a sax and was then urged by the parents to be a member of the church music ministry. The practice sessions between the school and church performance was diabolically stressful but the kid endured to please his parents 😦

  25. Sngl – I know what you mean hehe.. When I was in high school, over and above homeworks, we had what we call a home reading report. We had to read a book which was randomly distributed every 2 weeks and we had to summarize it chapter by chapter. I diligently did it up to 3rd year, when I got Treasure Island with 42 chapters LOL 🙂 I needed to become creative so I summarized the first 5 chapters and the last 5 chapters. The chapters in between were just copied paragraphs. I thought I was daring until I find out my classmates were copying the paragraphs since first year ! LOL 🙂

  26. Ferdz – thanks for the info. I was a bit skeptical esp when the ad was talking about mental calculation contests ! I never believe in competition, esp with young children. Their minds are in the process of development and it is pointless to conclude superior intelligence at such an early age.

    I know something was abnormal with Sanjaya during the episode when the top contestants were asked to show their special talent, Sanjaya did the hula-hula impromtu 🙂 It was so frigging hilarious and despicable at the same time LOL 🙂

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