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Discussion: All Tools on Computer
Topic: home work


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Subject:   RE: home work
Author: Mathman
Date: Oct 8 2006
On Oct  4 2006, markovchaney wrote:

> I'll
> ask one set of questions: what is it about how we present math to
> students that makes it so unappealing, for the most part, that they
> see homework as drudgery and punishment, and celebrate when the
> teacher doesn't assign any? What makes TEACHERS clearly acknowledge
> that homework is in fact drudgery and punishment by offering
> "homework passes" as rewards in class? Why can't we give assignments
> that students look forward to doing? Is math a matter of "no pain,
> no gain," and, if so, is that a NECESSARY condition of learning the
> subject? Of most subjects?

Very well.  I'll try to reepsond to these questions, but again, onyl this once,
since I still do not wish to disturb the tone of this forum, which I presently
admire.

1.what is it about how we present math to
> students that makes it so unappealing, for the most part, that they
> see homework as drudgery and punishment, and celebrate when the
> teacher doesn't assign any?

We don't.  At least I didn't.  What is it about hockey practice that only a few
will get up at 6 in the morning and hammer away at a puck until it's time for
school?  It's a matter of personal choice, as I tried to indicate, not the
responsibility of a coach who will point in the right direction ..and certainly
have some demands upon his charges, and for good reason ...similar reasons in
fact.

2.What makes TEACHERS clearly acknowledge
> that homework is in fact drudgery and punishment by offering
> "homework passes" as rewards in class?

If they do offer such passes it is most likely not for the reason you propose.
Rewards are just that.  The accomplishment of finished work itself is a major
reward, and might be enough.  An alternative is to give none, and simply let
students fail without trying to push them to the limits they really possess,
rather than the lesser ones they impose upon themselves.

3. Why can't we give assignments
> that students look forward to doing?

I did.

4.  Is math a matter of "no pain,
> no gain," and, if so, is that a NECESSARY condition of learning the
> subject? Of most subjects?

In a word, "Yes".  If any of us did only what was simplest, easiest, no effort,
just drift along, then we would surely not have gained what we did through our
own effort.  We should deny that of them?  ...[A rhetorical question.]  I don't
know about you, for whom everything might have been simple, and require only a
single glance, but my own effort included a lot of very rigorous enquiry, which
was impossible to accomplish solely in a classroom environment, either in public
school or university ...especially in university.  The end result payed off,
leaving exams in half the time needed, and feeling a deeper understanding of the
underlying principles, but the initial effort was certainly strenuous and
demanding ...and I thank God and my profs for that.  I've also seen the
wonderful results of students' struggles as they found studies in the following
years much easier because of their own effort.

Necessary?  Who knows?  Not if you are a genius, I suppose.  I've had the
privilege of teaching some of those as well, and they, more than any other, did
their "regular" required work, and only needed something extra, not something
missing.  It's a matter of providing initial course requirements, and some
meeting those more easily than others.

Now I'm done.  I'll listen, but I'm done because it can be endless trying to
fill in all the possible blanks.  Simply, homework is an advantage, and a
necessity.  It is as much a part of a course as the classroom work, and in fact
can be the reason for much greater personal effort and accomplishment.

David.

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