by MARK WEST 03/25/11
I want to preface this by saying that Quantum Learning has many good ideas. One hypothesis of Quantum Learning that I feel needs to be tested is renaming homework to homefun. The hypothesis goes something like this: "Why is homework so boring and stressful? because it is called homework and not homefun."
Well, conventional wisdom, like that of William Shakespeare says, "What’s in a name? that which we call a rose By any other name would smell as sweet" (Romeo and Juliet, ACT II, Scene II, Lines 47-48). So, let's ask "What's in a name? That which we call homework by any other name..." or should we? Perhaps we should make this apply more to the teacher, so that the instructor may see it through the eyes of the student?
If you told me, "I graded 400 tests lasts night and I was up until 11 p.m." to which I replied, "Wow! You certainly took home a lot of fun!", do my words A) make the work seem more like fun or B) make me sound like a sarcastic smart alec? To my ears, "Wow! You certainly took home a lot of work!" sounds more sympathetic and caring.
Perhaps if we called Bus Duty "BusFun", teachers would like it better? Or does BusFun sound patronizing? I personally could see people calling it demeaning, demoralizing or even mean-spirited. After all, we're obliged to do Bus Duty as part of our responsibilities as a teacher, just as students are obliged to complete "homefun" as part of their duties as a student.
Consider 2010 Tennessee Code Title 49 - Education Chapter 3 - Finances Part 3 - Tennessee Education Finance Act of 1977 49-3-359 - BEP funding for teacher's supplies, duty-free lunch periods, school nurses and reading coordinators. The duty-free lunch period bit is in that because there was a time in Tennessee when teachers had Lunch Duty. If we renamed Lunch Duty to "Lunch Fun" how many teachers would like to sign up for "Lunch Fun"? Yeah, I didn't think so.
In the Quantum Learning FADE model, the A stands for Atmosphere. One of the ideas of Atmosphere is that "Everything Speaks: Everything from surroundings and tone of voice to distribution of materials sends a message about learning." Hmm... if our phrases could be misinterpreted as sarcastic, patronizing, demeaning, demoralizing or mean-spirited (any one of those adjectives), should we use them? BusFun, anyone?
If calling it fun makes it fun, then why (numbers as of 3/25/2011) does the FaceBook group called I-HATE-when-teachers-call-homework-HOMEFUN have 2,225 people who like it and Its-not-homework-its-homefun have a "whopping" 17 people who like it?
Why are there also groups called Just-cause-you-call-it-homeFUN-doesnt-make-it-fun-teacher and I-hate-it-when-teachers-call-homework-activities-for-homefun-ITS-NOT-FUN?
In George Carlin's diatribe on changing the word Shell Shock to softer words like Combat Fatigue or Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, his introduction makes a hypothesis:
In calling Homework "HomeFun" are we living up to George Carlin's hypothesis that "Americans have trouble facing the truth, so they invent a kind of a soft language to protect themselves from it"? Afterall, fun is certainly a nicer word than work.
For years, when children came home from school, good parents have asked, "what homework do you have?". Those good parents aren't using a bad phrase. Not only is homework in the dictionary, but according to Merriam Webster, it's been there since 1683. Here's what Merriam Webster says about Homefun. People used to say, "Ain't ain't a word, 'cause it ain't in the dictionary." Well, ain't made it, so I can say that "Homefun ain't in the dictionary." I hope we keep it that way.
Just say "NO" to "HomeFun" (and BusFun and LunchFun).