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Pointless homework - WWYD?

(279 Posts)
EvilTwins Tue 07-Nov-17 21:22:47

DTDs are in yr 7. One gets endless amounts of homework (the other doesn’t) and much of it feels a bit pointless. Today, she told me she has a 3 week history project for which she has to “make something” to do with castles - she can make a cake hmm or a model hmmhmm or a mood board with lots of pictures. I asked her what The actual learning in the project is and she doesn’t know. Last week, she was given a project where she had to do a presentation about herself. That’s for study skills, and they are focusing on the presentation aspect. Her sister does the same subjects (different teachers) and did not have the same homework - hers was to practise the presentation skills, rather than spend hours doing a pointless PowerPoint.

Homework should be to either consolidate learning, extend learning or prepare for a lesson (or test) Making a model of Lincoln Castle out of fudge does neither of those things.

WWYD? Contact School? DTD2 could be spending her time so much better.

Julie8008 Tue 07-Nov-17 22:28:37

She is in Y7, Just do the homework, its not rocket science.

MsJaneAusten Tue 07-Nov-17 22:34:22

She doesn’t have to make a castle out of fudge though does she? It’s home learning. Your own definition of homework said it should extend learning. She can take her research in whatever direction she’s interested in - architecture, fashion, stories of the era, geography...

Come on OP, don’t pretend you don’t look back with fondness of the ‘old’ newspapers and diaries you made at school by running a used tea bag over them grin

Middleoftheroad Tue 07-Nov-17 22:37:34

I have twin boys, only at different secondaries. The twin at comp has had to colour in the Jolly Roger for English and decorate his reading book among other small amounts of homework.

The twin at grammar has had to make a shield (we did this at primary) but has generally had more challenging homework.

I'm guessing most schools therefore have some homework like this but no, I would not be happy if it was frequent. I would wait until parents' evening and raise it then perhaps.

Orangeplastic Tue 07-Nov-17 22:44:31

I think you are always going to get this with twins. Teachers vary in their ability and effectiveness and it is very obvious when you have twins doing the same subjects. I encourage my kids to just get on with whatever they have been set, there's no point comparing, everyone has to endure the odd shit teacher and learning how to cope with that is a good life skill.

noblegiraffe Tue 07-Nov-17 22:44:52

Urgh, homework that tests skills totally irrelevant to the subject at hand. 'What did you learn about castles?' 'Nothing, but I now know how to make buttercream'.

This is how we end up with research that tells us that homework is pointless.

Kokeshi123 Wed 08-Nov-17 06:29:02

I would complain. It sounds shit. I would also want to ask the school some searching questions on what my kid was doing during her time at school--is this a one-off "friendly" task, or are the kids spending a lot of school time on academically unchallenging craft-type activities?

Badbadbunny Wed 08-Nov-17 07:47:32

Sounds like my son's French homework from year 7 which was to make a brightly coloured alien. The amount of time and materials (and cost) that goes into this kind of thing is crazy and completely out of proportion to what they're supposed to be learning. More like primary school art than secondary school.

RedSkyAtNight Wed 08-Nov-17 07:56:39

I found a lot of this in Y7. I think the teachers were told they had to set homework on homework days, to get the DC used to it. We had a lot of "make a poster". It did calm down by about half way through the year.

As for the castle homework, if your DC doesn't know the learning is, and you really want to can always suggest something e.g. she has to make a motte and bailey castle and understand what all the parts should be used for.

Orangeplastic Wed 08-Nov-17 07:59:42

Why do primary teachers default to doing a poster - even secondary set this kind of homework. It becomes especially annoying when the teacher insists that the work needs to have effort and originality....when I spoke to the teacher about the detention he had set for my ds not showing enough effort (ds had, he was just a bit crap at art and I didn't do it for him, start of the year and teacher had just met him) and teacher expressed genuine surprise that craft homeworks were a heart sink moment every time they were set, he thought they were a fun thing to do.

AChickenCalledKorma Wed 08-Nov-17 08:35:15

The year 7 castle other is a bit of a rite of passage at my daughters' school. It was the very last time either of them were asked to make a 3D model as homework. Yay! But to be fair, both of them learned quite a lot about castles as a result of researching and designing their models. It sounds as if they were given a better brief than your DD - unless something has got lost in translation somewhere.

EdithWeston Wed 08-Nov-17 08:38:47

hers was to practise the presentation skills, rather than spend hours doing a pointless PowerPoint

That sounds like the same homework, except that the one who has to actually demonstrate that she has practised the presentation skills (by producing a presentation) is likely to be learning more as a result of having a definite goal to the homework.

LooseAtTheSeams Wed 08-Nov-17 08:42:49

Ok, totally sympathise on the whole craft angle, but your dd could get a lot out of this homework in terms of research into the actual features of castles - just do an informative poster on the computer with text and photos. It won’t take three weeks!
I’m assuming this is a mixed ability class hence the desperately wide ranging suggestions. Cake is a terrible idea - no chance of it being accurate unless you have genius skills - and can you imagine 30 kids turning up in an overheated classroom with buttercream castles?!! Hmm...

TeenTimesTwo Wed 08-Nov-17 08:45:54

My DD2 is y8 and both her and my elder DD have poor motor skills so craft homeworks for academic subjects make my heart sink too.

We have learned to be creative over them.

e.g. The castle homework.
My view on the learning would be the structure and naming of parts.

So I would
- find a picture of right age castle on internet.
- cut it out and put it in the middle of an A3 sheet of paper
- label all the parts (with a short description of their purpose)
Job done.

Generally with both DDs I have found that collage works well as it doesn't require fine skills but looks good. Supplemented by short text where needed. If it has to be a make, then I help them. Still looks like a year 2 has done it.

I think doing the presentation about herself is reasonable. The powerpoint supplements the talk. You have to learn not to be too over-whizzy with it, which is a skill many professional people don't seem to have. It's the content that matters, and as long as the graphics enhance that rather than detract, that's OK.

My basic rule of thumb is spend the time on the bit where the learning is meant to be, and as little time as possible on the other parts.

TeenTimesTwo Wed 08-Nov-17 08:47:29

DD2 had to draw a castle and label it for French in y7.
We found an outline on the internet, she traced it and coloured it in.

DanicaJones Wed 08-Nov-17 08:53:43

Dd had homeworks like decorating her exercise book in the first couple of weeks of her comp, but after that it became quite challenging homework. If anything there was too much homework in Year 7 and people commented on it in the feedback questionnaire in which we were asked about whether homework was challenging enough.

MerryMarigold Wed 08-Nov-17 08:58:18

Ds1 had to make a cake for Science which was a single cell. Sadly we forgot, (genuinely!), but I think it would have been great as planning how to do it would have really embedded the structure of a single cell in his head.

AlternativeTentacle Wed 08-Nov-17 08:58:33

So I would
- find a picture of right age castle on internet.
- cut it out and put it in the middle of an A3 sheet of paper
- label all the parts (with a short description of their purpose)
Job done

Aren't you a bit old for homework? Shouldn't it be the child that does it?

Orangeplastic Wed 08-Nov-17 09:21:01

Aren't you a bit old for homework? Shouldn't it be the child that does it

I definitely think this was part of the reason ds got a detention. I didn't help him with his homework and so it looked like a kid with limited artistic skills had completed it - the teacher benchmarked it as too little effort - on my part that was probably correct but I wasn't the one who got detention!

allegretto Wed 08-Nov-17 09:47:47

We have this problem with our twins - one gets loads, often irrelevant (and a bit disorganized - teacher phoned me up on Sunday morning to tell me she had set the wrong exercise!). The other gets less but it works better! All suggestions have fallen on deaf ears! And we have another 3 years of this....

nocampinghere Wed 08-Nov-17 10:12:13

My DD has had this castle homework in yr7. It was actually pretty useful - learn the structure of a norman castle and make a model. DD used lego and little flags with post it notes stuck on to label each piece. Some did make them out of cake which went down well at school!

The powerpoint homework shouldn't take hours! And if it does take her hours then she needs to get better at powerpoint.

posters though - i hate them for the pointless homework they are. dd has learned to knock them out in 10 mins on powerpoint, no more drawing & colouring in in this house.

TeenTimesTwo Wed 08-Nov-17 12:18:47


Sorry, I would get her to ...

Orangeplastic Wed 08-Nov-17 12:56:47

I agree that Powerpoint is pretty pointless, presentations at this age need to be about confidence, eye contact, communicating, keeping your audience engaged etc. Relying on powerpoint can and does often cause kids (and adults) to just read the slides - resulting in a pretty poor presentation. Dcs have done formal presentations three times a year since primary - I encouraged them to spend their time practicing their talks rather than learning how to use powerpoint.

EdithWeston Wed 08-Nov-17 13:03:25

If it was about using PowerPoint, I think you're right Orangeplastic but it never occurred to me that the task was just about the ICT.

I thought it was about giving a presentation, using PowerPoint but not to exclusion of all other relevant skills in giving a good presentation (selecting and ordering material which is relevant to the audience, identifying key points and how to present in a way that holds audience attention, clear delivery, avoiding over-dependence on tech etc). All learned/practised by doing a specific task. Which is (to use jargon) much SMARTer than just 'practise'

Orangeplastic Wed 08-Nov-17 13:12:02

it never occurred to me that the task was just about the ICT.

But in the finite time a dc is willing to spend on a presentation you have to help them decide which skills to focus on. ICT is not one of them - imo.

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