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Uncle Orson Reviews Everything

First appeared in print in The Rhinoceros Times, Greensboro, NC.

Comments from Readers

Mr. Card,

I'm glad that someone else has finally shown some intelligent thought when it comes to homework. I recently earned a BS degree in Journalism from Oklahoma Christian University in Oklahoma City. I started out as a mathematics major, but I changed majors specifically because of the homework issue.

All throughout grade school, I made straight As because I was interested in learning and wanted to figure out how the world works. But when I got to high school, things changed. And they only got worse in college. Teachers started assigning random homework assignments that I felt were busywork, and of no personal value to me. This was sometimes true in English class ("Write 25 sentences using a pronoun; Write 25 sentences using an adjective; etc."), but nowhere was it more evident than in math class.

MyCalculus 2 professor made it abundantly clear that if we did not do our 30 daily math problems, we would be penalized. But I'm a smart fellow, and math comes incredibly easy to me. I don't NEED to do 30 of the same type of problem to get it. I just listen, analyze, and understand. So I decided not to do the homework, and get by on my test scores. The second day of class brought this exchange:

"Where's your homework?" he said.

"I didn't do it," I replied with embarrassment. Don't ask why I was embarrassed, I really don't know. I think perhaps I felt inside that I had let someone down somehow.

He glared at me and said: "You have to do your homework. It's mandatory."

Every day for the first 3 weeks of class, he would ask where my homework was and I would tell him I didn't do it. In fact, I never once did a homework assignment in that class, but I did get A's and B's on every test because I could do the math without practice. When my grade came out and I got a 'C,' I asked the professor why I didn't get a better grade. He replied that I would have gotten an 'A' if I had done my homework. How silly is that? I knew the concepts and I could execute them. Isn't that what getting an education is all about?

So know that someone out there agrees with you completely, Mr. Card. I detest taking notes in class, and I find homework to be a waste of time. Teachers who say: "You must turn in a detailed copy of your notes at the end of the semester, so take good ones," make me want to scream. And professors who say: "If you don't do these exercises every night, your grade will suffer," make me angry. Not everyone HAS to take notes or do repetitve exercises. Some of us are smarter than that! I say we should let our children work at a level that fits their intelligence and needs. Some kids might need to learn by repetition, but I propose that most do not.

I'm not promoting laziness, by the way, but I'm too intelligent to waste away hours of my life doing senseless tasks, and most children are too. Thanks for confirming my ideas (even though you were speaking of grade school homework, not college), and have a great day.

Dustin Dopps

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