Battling Social Injustice One Homework Assignment at a Time

stress-853644_640By Amanda Szramiak – I am currently enrolled in Critical Inquiry into Contemporary Issues class, and Rob Lowe is my teacher. For those who do not know, Rob Lowe is a decorated scholar with degrees ranging from undergraduate to Ph.D., from University of California-Berkeley, Stanford University, and Harvard University. The man is a genius. However, his class makes me want to go on strike for all the injustices students face in education right now as well as throw in the towel because I am sure not going to make a difference.

I try to be as optimistic as possible when thin
king about my future especially because I am going to have to make my students hopeful about theirs. But how? Some of the course readings, such as Annette Laureau’s Unequal Childhoods, make me cry. Hearing stories of students from low socioeconomic status and about schools that have a literal grotesque smell to them, I genuinely wonder if I can make a difference. Despite the depressing readings, there is immense value in (some) of them.

We recently read Trip Gabriel’s, “Parents Embrace Documentary on Pressures of School,” in which the author talks about the infamous “Race to Nowhere” documentary. Vicki Abeles, a middle-aged mother with three children, aimed to find answers for the detrimental effects schoolwork was taking on her kids’ health. We watched a portion of the film during class, and the heartbreaking stories continued.

Students, of all socioeconomic/racial backgrounds, were overwhelmed, overworked, and extremely underappreciated. The film focused a great deal on homework, and it made me think of my own experiences as a student. I constantly feel like I am playing catch-up. One of the benefits of Marquette requiring education students to double major is that I get to learn how to teach while being in classes where some (not all, but too many) teachers have no idea how to teach. Looking at my own homework load, I can differentiate good professors from bad solely based on the homework they assign. Is it busy work? Do I learn anything from the homework? What do I gain from you checking my homework for mere completion?

Although my own experience with homework has not been so great, I hope to give my students solid reasoning behind everything I assign. I will say my field placement cooperating teachers do a phenomenal job of allotting class time to work on homework, which gives me hope for my future classrooms. Until then, I will continue doing my homework.

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