Monday, September 11, 2006

click on the beaver to get in the middle of an interesting discussion about what homework does to kids. i can tell you that i have a fairly responsible 14-year-old who would nevertheless spend 16 hours a day playing cockroaches on astroturf, also called "runescape", if he could. i have come to have some sympathy, as there was a time in my life when i would have played monopoly 16 hours a day- the difference being that i didn't need a ride to be with friends, and could find them by walking out the front door, or walking home from school.

my main complaint with the homework in his life is that it amounts to over 30 pounds some nights, and these days both his pack and his left arm are dangling from the same shoulder, since he fractured his elbow in a terrible bike spill a couple of weeks ago. the surgery was heart-wrenching but we survived...for a 14-yr.-old, maybe the hard part is going back to school and telling everyone what happened. that and holding your pants up when you're one hand short.

i don't know the answer to the problem mentioned by chris & time magazine (if you click around you'll find the article)...as a language teacher, i hate to discount homework altogether- i certainly give enough of it, and feel that one of its purposes is to prove a student's commitment to learning, as an individual, aside from the collective experience of taking a nap in the back row during the day. it could be that the stuff kids do when they are not doing homework is ultimately more important than what is often busy-work given for the sake of giving it. i've actually seen some of his homework recently, as i've helped him write some of it, due to the immediate writing problems, and i can't say that his is necessarily just busywork. and, it could be that the runescape also gives him skills he may need in his future...ability to type quickly, communicate in chat, kill ruthlessly, taunt mercilessly, etc.

the one thing i've found that we do like to do together these days is watching old movies, old hitchcock, wc fields, etc. or sometimes any old free movie from a cereal box, and some new ones too. with a bowl of popcorn. wish we had music, baseball, something else...

with the four-year-old i make volkswagens out of cardboard and toothpicks...we did a bug, red, with a vw insignia & license plate on it, moving wheels, and now we're working on a van...

the bug is small and red and reminds me of the first car i ever owned, a 62 bug which i used to get from a small farmhouse in wellman iowa -with muscovy geese, leonid & nikita- to a job at the railroad (cmstp&p = cheapest, meanest & slowest to pay = chicago milwaukee st paul & pacific = milwaukee road) - in washington iowa... and to iowa city - the 92 on the license plate meant washington county, home of kalona, shiloh, pilotsburg, some other towns i'd pass through...a couple of them, hills and frytown, might have been in johnson county...nevertheless with some urgency i dredge my memory, and not everything there is stuff i'm proud of...in hopes that i can find stuff to share with the boys - besides this blog - that will steer them in the right direction, take him away from this simultaneous-chat-taunting-electronic-death-by-mouse-lure-poor-sucker-noobs-into-an-electronic-back-alley kind of game, which oddly enough, i guess, prepares them for life in much the same way monopoly did for me. i've enjoyed writing about those times, but i know these boys have to make it in entirely different times. it's the sound of the bug, i tell him - like the sound of a horse & buggy- you can hear it from far off, and you'll always know it. and i haven't heard it in a while, though a later 80s bug that had been made into a three wheeler passed me up the other day. the little fella is also into soccer, and i hope it sticks, because he's already found cars the game, serves me right i guess....

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