Rants About Homework

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A mother's rant about the frustrations of assisting with her daughter's homework has won her fast social media fame, gaining more than 10,000 likes overnight.

Shelly Parkinson's swear word-ridden tirade, which she posted to the popular Facebook group The Unmumsy Mum, concerns her nine-year-old daughter's comprehension assignment, which is all about a nauseating fictional character called Ruth.

The unnamed woman remarks that Ruth 'sounds like a total c**t who makes me feel bad about myself' and writes: 'Ruth is fabulous, Ruth has hair like the sun, Ruth has a great job in an office, every day Ruth gets up and goes for a jog.'

Shelly Parkinson posted her swear word-ridden tirade about her daughter's comprehension homework to the popular Facebook group The Unmumsy Mum (file photo)

Shelly commences her post with: 'God.... sorry need to rant...does anybody else HATE doing homework with their kids?...My nine year old brought home "comprehension" (reading and answering questions for normal people) homework.'

She then goes on to describe 'Ruth', the impossibly perfect character discussed in a passage, before dissolving into a quiet rage when her daughter is unable to take any of the information about her on-board - despite her reading the passage aloud twice.

Shelly writes: 'I look up from the homework to see my daughter staring at me blankly....so I repeat the question "where does Ruth work?" ....I s**t you not this was her response..."who is Ruth?"'

She then describes her internal dialogue, which unfolds as she takes a moment to herself in the kitchen where she has 'four gulps of wine', writing: 

'AAAARRRRGGGHHH RUTH F***ING RUTH WITH HER HAIR AND HER JOB, YOU KNOW RUTH WE JUST SPENT TEN MINUTES READING ABOUT, RUTH WHO GOES JOGGING EVERY MORNING, REMEMBER THAT T**T?!?!' 

Hundreds of Facebook users commented on the post.

The mystery mum remarks that Ruth 'sounds like a total c**t who makes me feel bad about myself' and writes, 'Ruth is fabulous, Ruth has hair like the sun... every day Ruth gets up and goes for a jog'

Hundreds of Facebook users commented on the post and praised Shelly on her 'hilarious' rhetoric 

Lucy Oakes-Ash wrote: 'As a teacher I can simply say "welcome to my world!" I feel Shelly's pain approximately 100 times a day!'

Cate McEwan remarked: 'Yes!! This is me! Why do we need to suffer this, surely weekends are too precious to be a**ing around with "comprehension"... So funny Shelly, you've made my day.'

This morning, following the rush of internet attention, Shelly posted a lengthy extension on the subject of 'Ruth', describing her as a woman 'we all know' and comparing herself to the unattainable figure.

'Earth mother extraordinaire who wouldn't be seen dead doing the school run in a hoodie worn to conceal her pyjama top,' Shelly describes. 

'Ruth is the woman who looks down her nose at me every Monday morning when I arrive at school, sweating with two crying children in tow.'

This morning, following the rush of internet attention, Shelly posted a lengthy extension on the subject of 'Ruth' (pictured), describing her as a woman 'we all know' and comparing herself to the unattainable figure

In another extract (pictured), Shelly concludes her post by celebrating her parenting achievements, despite feeling 'hopeless' at times

She details all the things Ruth 'wouldn't dream of doing', including Febreezing her children's PE kits instead of washing them, losing book bags, failing to provide permission slips and forgetting events like comic relief and the harvest festival.

Drink wine if you need to, press snooze on your alarm, have a four lettered rant on Facebook if it feels good 

'Last Harvest festival I had to send my kids in to school with a sachet of Cup a Soup and a tin of alphabetic spaghetti!' she writes. 'Ruth sent her children in with vegetables from her allotment.'

Shelly, who has been praised by countless other mums for her 'hilarious' and 'brilliant' rhetoric, concludes her post by celebrating her parenting achievements, despite feeling 'hopeless' at times.

'So f**k "Ruth", unfriend the b**ch on Facebook, you don't need that s**t in your life,' she writes. 'Drink wine if you need to, press snooze on your alarm, have a four lettered rant on Facebook if it feels good.

'Your kids are clean, loved, full bellied and happy...which makes you all f**king awesome.'

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I had my seventh graders write essays recently to the theme “What it feels like to…” I’ve received some tremendous essays, like “What it feels like to have a seizure” and “What it feels like to have a criminal live in your home” and “What it feels like to save someone’s life.” Today I read one about being a student: “What it feels like to be GT.” However, I think that the underlying message of this essay is one that would apply to a lot of well-meaning, high-achieving students.

Because I’m in GT, I receive respect from some of the teachers and some of the average students, but I sometimes also get alienated by students and teachers as well.  People call me a nerd and ask me easy questions that they think are hard.  Sometimes people also ask me for help on their homework when they are having trouble.  The homework is usually really easy and simple and when I finish helping them they are amazed on how I can do that much “hard” homework so fast.  Some people who envy me call me a nerd to try and make me feel bad.  There is this one girl in one of my classes who hates me and and calls me nerd.

Did anyone else see that episode of Modern Family where Claire (the mom) goes to parent night at the high school and shadows Alex’s (her daughter) classes? There’s a scene where she’s in one of Alex’s last classes of the day and the teacher is going on about how since it’s an AP class she makes sure to give the kids (something like) two hours of homework a night. Claire goes up to the board and says, OK, but if my daughter has two hours of homework a night in science and two in English and one in Spanish and one and a half in history…then when/how is she supposed to be a teenager under six hours of homework a night?

When I go to school I get homework, and when I get a lot of homework I don’t get much free time.  When I take advanced classes I get homework almost every night, as well as the homework I get from my normal classes.  With this much homework I barely have any time to do other things, and when I have a lot of homework, I end up staying up late and losing sleep.  Then I am tired all the next day and usually miss important information.

I think about homework a lot. A lot. Because as a teacher, I’m “supposed” to give homework. Right? Isn’t that what we do? But a few years ago, I was talking about this with my teaching friend G and she commented on how, as a mom, she hates it when her kids have homework. She wanted to know why it was that the teacher had so much power so as to dictate how a child spent evening time with her family. She wanted to know who decided that children would have to spend seven hours a day at school and then another hour – or six – at home working on school work.

On the days I don’t have homework, which is usually the day of a test.  I go and call my neighbor and play a computer game called minecraft.  I also do this a lot on weekends as well.  During my free time I sometimes read a book, watch tv, play games, or sleep.  Sleeping is my favorite thing to do on the weekends because there is no wake up time for me to go to school.

This morning, one of my students gave a speech about being a student in which he equated the time spent at school to the time spent at a job. He asked what job an adult could possibly have that required not only a full day at the office, but then an additional three hours of time spent working from home every evening. He noted that those jobs are a select few and that people who have those jobs are often paid well for them. However, children are expected to do their schoolwork enthusiastically and without complaint, completely intrinsically motivated and eager to receive an A for every masterpiece.

When I finally finish school I will most likely get a good job due to my good education.  Sure, I will have to put up with being called nerd and having hard classes and staying up late and losing sleep and time with friends, but it will be good in the long run.

As a nation, we push kids to be everything, to do everything, to try everything. We want them to be well-rounded individuals so they can get in to a good college and then so they can get a good job so they can buy a good house and have a good spouse and have good kids that they can push to be well-rounded individuals who go to a good college. I have so many students who play a sport and an instrument in middle school and are already – some as young as seventh grade – planning on having to drop one or the other when they get to high school because they know they won’t be able to handle the increased work once they get there. And for what? I don’t know a single adult who says, “Gee, I wish I would have spent more time with my algebra book.” No. Adults miss kindergarten nap time and the opportunity to take pottery and shop classes. Adults want fewer things to do. They want compensated for all their time worked, which is why salaried positions are sometimes less desirable. Adults want vacation time. And time with their families.

Could we improve our country if we did away with homework? Could we encourage more time on leisure reading, productive outdoor activities, and community events if kids didn’t have to lock themselves away stressing about some eventuality of adulthood that homework is somehow supposedly going to prepare them for? Would teenagers feel less alienated, less stressed and less sleep deprived if they had fewer things on their mental “to do” lists? Would parents feel a stronger connection to their children if more time was spent throwing a baseball in the front yard and less time chaining kids to the computer desk on Saturday afternoons?

I know not everything can be accomplished in the 45 minutes students sit in our rooms and I know they have to be prepared for the next level and the next level after that and the next level after that and I know that for some students homework acts as a way to keep them out of trouble (although, really, are those kids doing homework to begin with…?) and I know that America is “behind” other countries in all sorts of Very Important Subjects, but is it worth it?

Is it worth it if we have eleven-year-olds with sleep disorders? Is it worth it if seventh graders are making a habit of drinking three cups of coffee a day just to get started? Is it worth it if children experience symptoms of extreme exposure to stress even before they reach middle school?

I say no.

I know this is sounding really idealistic right now – and that’s not generally like me at all – but this is something I really believe in…especially since my daughter will be starting kindergarten in the fall, meaning I have a lot of homework to look forward to for the next thirteen years. But I really don’t want some teacher telling my family how we’re allowed to spend our evening (read: structure it around everything the teacher wants done by tomorrow). My general homework policy is thus: I give time in class to work on everything and I never collect anything the next day that they didn’t have time enough to do in class. My goal is for students to have no more than 20 minutes of homework a night for my class, and that that 20 minutes a day is usually spent reading. I don’t expect every teacher to follow suit, but, well, I guess more teachers would. I know I don’t want to spend hours and hours working on schoolwork at home. Why should I be so shortsighted or narcissistic to think that the kids do? {see note}

 

{note}I apologize in advance to any teachers out there who are two-hours-of-homework-a-night teachers. Yes, I just called you shortsighted and narcissistic. I’m sorry. You’re in a different position – one where, perhaps if I taught what and where you taught, I might feel pressure to do the same thing.

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