The kids are finally in school, and I'm simply amazed at how much things have changed since I was in second (the Younger) or third (the Older) grades lo these many years ago. Perhaps the biggest is the amount of homework required. I certainly never had homework in those grades. I don't think I even had homework until sixth grade or so (not that I ever did homework but that's another story). In discussing this with Spring and Gregory (who himself has two kids) it seems that parents have screamed for schools to give even more homework so that's what the schools are doing, giving more homework. I'm not sure if it's because of declining standards in education and this is an attempt at a solution or a means of busy work at home to keep them quiet and obedient.
On the one hand, I find it horribly wrong to give homework. I myself never liked busy work, and I certainly never saw the point of it. And homework? I never bothered with homework since it interfered with more important things, like TV and and playing with Lego bricks. As for the former point, I learned better on my own time (by third grade I knew my way around the Solar System, and in forth, I corrected my teacher on the proper ordering of the planets—you see Pluto had just crossed within the orbit of Neptune and thus wasn't the furthest planet, at least for the next twenty years or so) and for the later point, I was a parents' wet dream of a kid, always quiet and able to occupy myself for hours at a time and rarely did I get into trouble (mostly over bad grades, possibly due to the lack of work I exhibited—I was the poster child for “he's so smart, if only he applied himself … ”).
Yet on the other hand, being an adult who is still always quiet and able to occupy myself for hours at a time, I can certainly see the logic in anything that keeps a kid quiet and obedient (but mostly quiet). Hypocritical, perhaps, but I'm finding I like it when the kids are in school, even though I find school a horrible place to send kids.
And speaking of lackidaisical standards in education, I came across an 8th grade exam from 1895 (via Kevin's Ramblings) and I'm not sure I could pass the test. I'm not even sure how big a bushel of wheat is, so answering the second arithmetic question is out of the question, and while I can deduct 1,050# from a weight of 3,942#, I'm still not sure what “tare” means (arithmetic question 3). And the history of Kansas? I barely know the history of Florida, let alone Kansas (from the U.S. History section). And “dipthongs?” “Cognate letters?” “Linguals?” (Orthography section, which seems related to language, or possibly writing, I'm not sure).
Standards certainly have changed over the past century.
(Oh, if you want to check your work, answers to the questions are available)