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Homework-Burning Parties

Do Homework-Burning Parties Send the Wrong Message?

It's been a bittersweet week for me; on Monday, my daughter finished her first year of elementary school. Sweet because she had a fantastic year, learned to read, met loads of new friends, and proved that she is capable of behaving in a structured setting for almost seven hours a day (who knew?!). Bitter because, well, now she's home with me and her 3-year-old brother all day for three months, and that good behavior has already gone out the window. But, yeah, yay Summer!

We celebrated the last day of school at a neighbor's house, making ice cream sundaes, taking pictures, and blowing bubbles. We were also invited to a last-day-of-school party at a park, where the parents pelted their kids with water balloons, ostensibly in fun, but let's get real, there's a little anger in there, too (as in, I know you guys are going to torture us all season, so take this!).

I also heard about a third "school's out" event going on in our area: a homework-burning party. What exactly is a homework-burning party, you might ask (as I did)? Well, apparently, it's when a group of kids and parents get together, make a big fire, throw in all of their old homework from the year, and watch it burn, Lord of the Flies style (minus the cannibalism, of course).

My first response was one of surprise. Who wants to hold on to the never-ending stacks of homework that come home all year long (even in kindergarten), just to burn them up at the end of the year? Then I shifted to thinking the idea was kind of cute and quirky. After all, who doesn't love a good fire? But, after further evaluation, I decided the whole concept was, if not just kind of twisted, then quite possibly a total mindf*ck to those kids watching their hard work go up in flames.

I decided the whole concept was quite possibly a total mindf*ck to those kids watching their hard work go up in flames.
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On one hand, we're nagging them every single day during the school year to get their assignments done in a thorough, thoughtful manner, telling them that school is their job and they need to take it seriously. Then, right when Summer break starts, we make a dramatic shift and torch all those worksheets we claimed were so vital? What kind of message is that sending? Just kidding, kid! That was really all stupid busy work! Tricked ya! Now watch it burn!

Not only does a homework-burning party minimize their past efforts, but when they sit down with their first homework sheet in the Fall, will they then look at it as an important educational tool or just as future kindling? How can you argue that finishing that Common Core math sheet is imperative to their school success when they watched you burn the entirety of last year's math homework?

I get that a fire is way more dramatic and fun, but I won't ever be participating in a homework-burning party. My kid doesn't need to see me celebrate all her hard work going up in flames. I'll stick to sneakily putting it the recycling bin instead.

Image Source: Flickr user Jayphen
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