The hell that's homework today


Are public libraries being marketed enough to school children today? Are primary schools (in Australia and overseas) relying too heavily on parent intervention when it comes to research for assignments? Read the full story here and have your say!!


A very interesting, well written article about Australia, and not much different than here. Especially the part about the government needs to put more money into education to level the playing field.

How about some realistic assignments by the teachers? How much of a tax increase would that be?

I agree wholeheartedly with nbruce on this one.

A big problem is that, in our case, the high school teachers across the street don't mosey over to the library to see what we have for the kids to do their assignments. So we get assignments that we can only find passing mention for in McGraw Hill or the CRC... not exactly appropriate for third graders.

What worried me about the article was the writer's tendency to go to the internet first. Is this what we're teaching kids? Is that just a product of these parents? Or did the teacher suggest it? I mean, the Australian cloth industry is something you should be able to find in a book... The subject's not so cutting edge it's going to go out of date. Kids shouldn't be sent to the internet until they're shown how to use the internet as a search tool (not necessarily a be all end all reference source). From what I'm seeing at our library, though, the internet is something that is mentioned, not taught.

As a parent and a librarian, I see it from both sides, and it ain't pretty. I've had both of my kids come home and say "I'm supposed to look this up on the Internet." When I press them, or look at their assignments, I have discovered that, indeed, many teachers just say "use the internet to look up information on...." Not "go to this site or this site and look for information," but just the Internet.

First off, it's simply a horrible way to do research. Secondly, it creates an incredible bias against those without access. Sure the library has computers, but we only have SOME computers, and because of our access policy, we can't differentiate between some mook playing on Yahoo games and a parent and child who need access to a computer for research or word processing.

School librarians (at least those in our system)do what they can to teach search skills, but they are also expected to teach all COMPUTER skills. Never mind just regular library use skills. State standards dictate that computer literacy be taught. I had been assuming that school kids, my own included, knew how to look for a book via Dewey number, but my very smart 7th grader, I just learned, has never been taught basic library use in her school library. Too busy learning how to use paint and draw programs on ancient Macs.

I can rant about the stupidity of many homework assignments (thank you state standards!) too, but will save it for another day.

At the college level, I could quickly photocopy the syllabus, then check out the appropriate material to put on closed reserve so all in the class had access. Didn't teach professional students much about doing research, but kept one person from tying up the entire collection (one book) on parasites of parrots or cryptorchid donkeys (one article in obscure journal).

Do librarians contact the principals of local schools to complain that teachers haven't done THEIR homework to see if information is available locally? Otherwise they are just teaching children to hate libraries. Would seem more productive then checking around for John Ashbrook under every table.

Our YA librarian has done a great job of trying to connect with teachers. She's begun a newsletter aimed at middle and high school teachers, created webforms for teachers to submit upcoming research projects, gone into classrooms to booktalk and network, but to little avail. I just don't get it--my guess is that many teachers are as overregulated, overwhelmed and unsupported as librarians and do what they can to keep their heads above water.

I don't know that librarians tattling on teachers would do much except create a hostile relationship between us and the teachers. I'm just flat out not a fan of public education, as it works (or doesn't work).

Who is John Ashbrook, btw? If I catch him under any of my tables I will personally kick his *ss.

"I'm supposed to look this up on the Internet."Yup, I've had students come in looking for material on a certain author. We have fanatastic reference sources on the author, but no, it must be from the Internet.I actually called the instructor assuming there was a misundertstanding, but he was not interested in the reference sources, because "learning to use the Internet is important."

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