Sunday, February 15, 2009

Homework: Part One

I was in the library yesterday when the woman in front of me complained to the children's librarian that her second grade daughter had to write a 2-3 page report for homework. "My daughter can't even spell and they want her to write 3 pages!"

When I returned home, I found out my 3rd grade daughters also had to write reports. They were getting off easy, and only had to do 1-2 pages, researching the life of a famous African American picked at random. We used the internet, which lacks the sterility of a 20th Century children's biographical library book. When Annie was reading about Dr. J., she asked "What's an adulterous affair?" While researching Jesse Owens, Becca and I noticed that his first daughter was born when he was 18, but he was married when he was 21.
Doing third grade homework can be a bit humbling for me. I've forgotten little things like the answer to 8 times 8 or the difference between haplodiplontic and diplohaplontic life cycles. I now have some sympathy for Dan Quayle forgetting how to spell potato.
Researching the Jesse Owens story shattered one myth for me. Most retellings portray Hitler as snubbing Owens for obvious reasons , but Owens had this to say:

"When I passed the Chancellor he arose, waved his hand at me, and I waved back at him. I think the writers showed bad taste in criticizing the man of the hour in Germany...
...Hitler didn't snub me—it was FDR who snubbed me. The president didn't even send me a telegram." (Quotes lifted from Wikipedia)

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