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Wednesday, September 26, 2012



Lou at “Sunnyside” recently ranted about homework for grade school children.  It reminded me of this story.

At seven years old, Spencer was bringing home a boatload of homework every night.  Much of it was “busy” work and some didn’t make sense even to his parents.  My favorite was a math question designed (I guess) to make the kids think:

 “Two and two equals four…explain.”

 I mulled over this question for about 20 minutes.  I had no idea what the teacher was looking for and it was 8:30, 30 minutes past Spencer’s bed time and 2 ½ hours into a seven year olds homework.  I finally scribbled on his paper:

“Because if he told me two and two equals anything else I would think he was an idiot and you were the worst math teacher in the USA.”

Mr. Hagy


That was the last “thinking question” homework we received that year.


The killer assignment of all assignments was a “King Tut” puzzle.


Spencer came home one night with an envelope.  Inside were 11 pieces of white paper cut into puzzle pieces.  The assignment was to put the pieces together and then tell three things about the person the puzzle formed.

Plain white pieces are difficult to figure out, especially when cut by scissors and even more especially when one piece was missing.  We (did any teacher really think a 7 year old was going to do this without help) started at 7:00.  At 7:45 I still did not know who this puzzle was supposed to be until I asked Spencer what they were studying in this class. 


Ah ha!  The puzzle without a piece now started to look like King Tut.

The puzzle finally solved, we now had to tell three things about King Tut.

It was eight o’clock and I was borderline crazed about this stupid assignment.  Couldn’t the teacher just have asked “Tell three things about King Tut?”  No, she had to send home a stupid freaking all white puzzle with a missing piece.  What fun!!

“Get you book Spence and we’ll look up King Tut.”  His book did not have a section on King Tut.  I guess we were expected to look him up on the internet.  My internet access at the time was via a slow modem (remember modems?)  My patience was now zero.

“Write this down Spence.”

1.     King Tut was called the child king…because he was a child.  (That was the extent of my King Tut knowledge.) 

2.    King Tut was left handed.  (Prove me wrong.)

3.    It is now nine o’clock; my father says it is well known that King Tut was unable to solve puzzles with all white scissor cut pieces especially when one piece was missing.  So I guess King Tut was also an idiot.

That was the last puzzle project of the year.


  1. Jeez! What kind of freak-o school did your kids go to? Did Spence survive this oddball teacher and go on to learn anything worthwhile?


  2. I've lost count of the times where working out what the teacher wanted was even harder than the actual homework! I missed Lous post (and I do love a good rant) so Im heading over to take a look now.

  3. Exactly when did your son stop asking you to help him with his homework?

  4. I love it! I'm laughing so hard right now. :) I often feel the same way about some of these assignments. Who comes up with this stuff? If the teacher has that much time on her hands maybe we should give HER some busy work.
    About Fishducky.
    I sent her one of your post awhile back and she told me she was going to follow you she loved it so much. I'm really glad. She's a terrific follower and wonderful person..

  5. I love it! Particularly the answer to the math question. Wonder what the teacher thought when she received it back?

  6. I really enjoyed your post, and laughed at the two plus two equals four question. I wrote a post where I asserted that mathematics was a hoax. To date, this is the only thing I've written that came close to receiving nasty comments. It's archived on 1/25/12 if you have any spare time.

  7. New age teaching when teacher's were praised for being innovative. I remember my daughter studying Social Sciences and the topic was "The means of production" - she was supposed to assemble a model car from white paper 'cut-out' pieces. Imagine my dismay when the finished product was a "T" model Ford!!!!!

  8. Cranky you are so funny! I would love to be able to do this.......I am now wondering if I dare!

    Lou :-)

  9. I also liked the answer to the math thinking problem.

    The homework assignments when our kids were still in school made me wonder if our kids did anything in class at all

  10. How frustrating for parents! The saddest part of that story is this is a district driven curriculum. It is "trying"to develop your child's critical thinking skills. If children could think critically at age 7, they could live on their own! Teachers know these exercises are worthless. But we need to follow what's put forth in the curriculum. How sad for our children!