This letter to the Editor is in response to an article published in The Brock Press on Sept. 9, 2014: Should we bring the homework ban to Brock?
Instead, homework is a red herring. We gripe about our homework (and yes, our time away from videogame-land) because it’s tangible. We can see it, touch it, and loathe it entirely in all its hundred-page-reading glory. But homework has little to do with our frustrations. We expect university to be challenging. We expect to have to work to earn our degrees. We hope – perhaps foolishly – that earning our degrees will show that we are worthy members of our field and that we can make a meaningful contribution to the world.
What we don’t expect is pointlessness: unnecessary assignments that contribute nothing and enhance no one. We don’t expect lectures that repeat material from the previous year, or to have to buy textbooks we never use.
And yet pointlessness abounds.
When Nadon writes about the benefits of being a passionate, involved community member, it’s because that involvement has meaning. Extra-curricular activities develop the student and the individual. They give back to Brock and St. Catharines communities and prepare us to make those same contributions when we graduate.
Instead of asking “Should homework exist?,” ask “How can homework be meaningful?” If you have assignments in your courses, ask your professors why they’re there. Remember that time-honoured week one tradition of reading the course syllabus, and how no one ever asks any questions? Some professors mistake “No questions” for “Everyone gets this, and my syllabus clearly rocks. Gold star for Professor Pedantry.”
Do not allow this.
If you want your time at Brock to be meaningful, you need to become engaged. This means joining clubs and teams, but it also means asking tough questions when you smell that herring. A meaningful assignment should have an explicit purpose and specific goals. Yes, you’re still expected to think critically – asking the question shows you’re doing that. Being really good at “guess what’s in my head” does not.