Wednesday, June 06, 2012


Dear Mrs. Teacher,

 How kind of you giving 100 questions for Castle Learning to your students.  I mean its not like you're putting more stress on your students, its not like we don't have other finals coming up and regents to take.  No, no nothing like that...... =.= gosh i hate the subject you teach!!!!! D:

I read the above comment on a former student's Facebook page.  The girl who wrote this is as hard working as they come.  She does everything required and more.  She is one of the kids I from last year I really miss.

I felt her anguish as I read her comment.  I know where her teacher is coming from assigning these problems.  The teacher fears the kids in her class will not pass the upcoming regents and she will be called on the carpet for their lack of success.  What teachers like her fail  to understand is that the kids who aren't studying, and not taking assignments seriously will get nothing out of an assignment like this.  Some will blow it off because of the length.  Others will have friends give them answers or find someone willing to do it for them. Others will start and then just burn out before the end and learn nothing along the way.  The only one benefitting will be the person counting statistics on the number of questions being answered.

I took two independent study courses while on sabbatical several years ago.  These were courses I cared about and was determined to learn. At first I was told to do every fourth problem at the end of certain chapters.  When I explained how this made no sense (some problems couldn't be done unless the one immediately preceding it was also done), he got annoyed.  When I insisted on doing the odd problems so I could at least check my answers and see that I was on the correct path, he relented but was not pleased.  I ended up doing much more than required and learned quite a bit.  This mentor was not happy having a student shape the course and as punishment he assigned over 100 questions for a final.  Anyone who has taken an advanced calculus class or a discrete math class knows the inordinate time this takes.  I ended up filling the pages with junk, stuff I knew he would never look at and my education ended.  If the final had been reasonable, I would have completed it properly and gotten something out of it.  He would have seen all I accomplished.

Imagine if every teacher gave their students 100 questions.  Even at only five academic classes, this is 500 questions.  Kids still have papers and other assignments to complete and things to study that aren't on Castle Learning.  If we want kids to learn and be successful, we have to keep assignments reasonable.  When I was teaching, I did every homework assignment myself before I gave it out.  If it took me more than 10 minutes (15 in calculus), it was too long and I shortened it.  It is important to show respect for a student by respecting their time and the work they must do for other courses.  It is also important to remember that they are young and should have some fun time programmed into their day.  I'm not talking about an evening on Facebook, but 30 minutes of that or television or some other relaxation is important to their well being.

To the young woman who wrote that note:  I hope your teacher(s) see this and reconsider over the top assignments in the future.  I know you will do well on your exam. You are smart.  You always do well.  I'm glad I got to know you last year and can follow your activities on Facebook now that I am no longer in the classroom.

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