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It’s time to play that fabulous game show, What Would You Do as a Parent? once again! Pick the best answer to the following question:

If your child did not complete homework, what would you do?

A. Punish the child by taking something away that was important

B. Reward the child once homework returned to the expected routine

C. Throw up your hands and give up on the child

And the correct answer is…? I don’t know. Wait, I know it’s not C, but I’m not sure if A or B is better.

Let’s look at the possibilities. I know that if I hadn’t been completing my homework, I would have had every privilege I had removed: TV, phone, car, etc. Would that have worked for me? You’d better believe it!

I’m pretty sure my parents would not have rewarded me for doing what I was supposed to do in the first place. And like my dad recently told my daughter, “Now that you’ve proven you can do that, it’s expected all the time.” That sounded familiar…

Why am I asking this? It’s been a challenging year so far in the middle school with late work, the most challenging I’ve had in all my years here. The rash of late work has reached epidemic proportions. I’ve called parents, visited with them at conferences, and emailed copiously. I’ve heard all three of the above choices as answers when I pose the question about what we (the parents and I) can do together to solve the problem.

That’s right, C has been the choice for some people, which just floors me. I shouldn’t be surprised by anything in education anymore, but I can’t help but have my fires stoked by parent indifference.

About a year ago, I wrote a column about homework after a parent suggested we assign too much. (Oct. 4, 2012) You can check that for all the reasons I have for homework and how I choose it. Many of the same things apply, especially the wasted time.

We’ve also had some issues with iPads and students being too distracted with games and social media to focus on the educational enhancement these devices give them. Some have had their iPads taken away, while everyone has had to get rid of games and social media while at school.

And this led me down another path of thinking. I have to stop saying, “When I was a kid…” while examining today’s problems. This generation is just wired completely differently than we were at that age, and a lot of that has to do with technology. So how do we change our way of thinking when it comes to problem solving with a group of students who were not alive during the 20th century?

I don’t know, and that’s probably what frustrates me the most. It’s tough because my own kids do their work without much prodding, and I’m blessed and thankful for that. Do I have some magic elixir that I use which works for that? No, and I don’t think I’m some outstanding parent, but it does make it difficult to deal with other people’s kids when I can’t relate through personal experience.

We’re trying all manner of ideas as a staff, trials that involve both letters A and B. I never want to resort to letter C, but when parents walk that path and don’t show support for both their student and the school, it’s tough not to join them. The simple fact is that there is always about 5% of the population that we might not ever get through to, but there’s another 10-15% that are borderline. Can we salvage their education and point them in the right direction? I hope so, but to do so, we may have to find out what answer D is, and that’s the true challenge.

On a different note, I’m proud to announce the publication of my second novel, Heroics 201, a sequel to my story about super heroes in a realistic world. I believe either can be read on its own and enjoyed, but if you are interested in either or both, they can be purchased directly from me or through Amazon. They might make a fun Christmas gift or, hopefully, just a fun read!

Word of the Week: This week’s word is pilgarlic, which means a bald-headed person, as in, “The teacher soon became a pilgarlic from pulling out his hair over missing assignments.” Impress your friends and confuse your enemies!


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