Why Homework?

Why are students assigned homework? Isn’t eight hours of school enough to get the lesson across? Do teachers like grading? I’m sure some of it is state mandated, but I think there should be some containment, if only because homework itself runs contrary to what we strive for later in life, which is establishing a separation between our work and our personal time. Children and teens should be taught that there is a place for work and a place for play, and that they shouldn’t be playing at school all day and working at home all night.

I’m talking about elementary and high school, mostly. Sometimes there is extraneous homework in college, but from experience it is usually avoidable or for your own benefit. Well, isn’t all homework for you’re own benefit? I don’t think so. College and graduate school are distinct from lower-ed in that you aren’t required to be at school for the same duration. You aren’t under the scope of a teacher for the same duration, so some guided study outside of class is helpful and necessary.

Don’t get me wrong, learning can be fun, but it should be contained. I think children would approach school with a better attitude if they were able to leave it behind when they boarded the school bus home. I remember working and feeling like I could never escape from my job because I felt obligated to take some of it home with me. To me this was almost normal, but others were aghast at how it effected me. To them work was just an nine hour drama that they could leave behind, while I drove home feeling like I was going to have a heart attack. Not fun.

What’s the difference? Did they grow up without homework? Ha… I don’t think so. But, the homework doesn’t help. Maybe I just liked what I was doing more. Who knows.

The Number 8

I think I should wear a shirt with the number eight on it when I go to China in a month. To the Chinese the number eight is symbolic of fortune and wealth, and has a large influence on all parts of their life. For example, they will often invest in stocks with ticker codes with an eight or multiple eights. The Beijing Olympics will start at 8pm on 8-8-2008.

Contrary to the number eight’s goodwill is the number four, which is symbilic of death.

More in this WSJ article:

The 6, 8 and 9 keys on ATMs made by Diebold Inc. wear out first because those “are considered lucky numbers in China”…

Investing is likened to what we (Americans) would consider gabling…

Brokerages are set up like casinos. Investors drink tea, smoke and chat as they make trades on computers lined up like slot machines. Instead of dropping in coins, they swipe bank cards to pay for shares…

In China, individuals, often with little understanding of financial concepts, make up 60% to 80% of trading, unlike U.S. markets dominated by financial giant (firms).

There is no free press in China, which means that information can be misleading, their stock market is largely comprised of personal investors that view it as a high risk endeavor based on lucky numbers, and their GDP growth is ridiculously high. Is it a matter of if or when their economy implodes?

Third Places from 9am to 5pm

Awhile ago I wrote about “3rd places” – those places people go to gather, do work when not at work, or just hangout. Coffee shops are a prime example of third places. Bookstores, diners, etc. Often the common denominators between third places are a wifi connection and coffee.

One of the most bizarre things about going back to school in August of 2006 was the daily freedom. No longer did I feel obligated to sit at a specific desk in an office with co-workers. While some of my fellow students preferred to study in the library, sitting in the same spot day after day, I’ve never had a high tolerance for libraries. Instead, I prefer either home or a diner. There is something about having a medium amount of commotion that helps me focus in on what I need to get done. Perhaps, the distractions remind me that I want to be done so that I can get on with my day and enjoy what else there is to do – walk around outside, go see a movie, or hangout with friends.

A recent article posited the question of what are all the people doing that walk around during the day. Don’t they work? This isn’t as interesting of a question as it may have once been. When I did work, I hardly worked a 9-to-5 job. I had relative freedom to set my own hours when we weren’t super busy, which allowed me to work from a coffee shop near my house on Fridays or travel and work.

Seeing people hanging out at 3rd places between the hours of 9am to 5pm seems more normal than weird these days.

Michael Moore Interview

Michal Moore has been instrumental in starting the Traverse City Film Festival, which takes place for the third year this summer in Traverse City, MI (my hometown). It’s what Sundance wishes it could recapture – a more quaint, more interesting, more subtle approach to film that actually lets the films speak without the excess. In short, Paris Hilton doesn’t show up here and we would like to keep it that way.

The festival has been hugely successful each of the past two years, and brings many movies that we wouldn’t normally see. Last year I had the chance to see Borat before it was officially released and listen to Larry Charles talk about the filming process (they were arrested a lot).

Here’s a recent HBO Bill Maher interview with Michael Moore, his first in two years. It talks mostly about Moore’s new movie, Sicko, but is live from Traverse City, MI.

Interested in Politics?

I’m wondering what causes someone to be interested in Politics. Or, maybe more importantly, what turns those who are vehemently opposed or merely indifferent to voting off of the subject entirely.

There is a plethora of news available now, and we can customize it any way we like. I can completely exempt myself from any aspect of news. No longer does the newspaper and the nightly news dominate my info-stream. It never really did. Now it is RSS feeds, customizable online news sites, and email updates.

What will it take to get those who are not interested in politics and who don’t bother exercising one of, if not the most important, right – the right to vote. Every vote does matter.

Food Stamp Challenge

Does Rep. Tim Ryan (D – Ohio) really need to do a food stamp challenge to figure out that $21 a week is inadequate to sustain a healthy diet? Does the Washington Post really need to cover this? The gist is that a well fed Congressman realizes how difficult it is for poor America to live. This just seems like it is making light of how difficult it is for some to make ends meet, and is a stunt that I’ve read of college kids doing several times. Not a congressman.

Here’s what Ryan bought (link):

* One bag of corn meal- $1.43
* Two jars of strawberry preserves- $4.00
* One jar of chunky peanut butter- $2.48
* Two boxes of angel hair pasta- $1.54
* One can of coffee- $2.50
* Three jars of tomato sauce- $4.50
* Two cartons of cottage cheese- $3.00
* One loaf of wheat bread- $.89
* One clove of garlic- $.32

I would definitely buy the PBJ stuff and the pasta ingredients, however I would skip the coffee. Varying your meals and eating healthy life-sustaining meals would be more difficult than merely surviving on $21 a week.

Note: Ryan is a graduate of Franklin Pierce Law School in Concord, NH where he recently gave a commencement speech to the Class of 2007 graduates. (This is particularly interesting solely because I attend FPLC.)

I’m A Fan

I moved to New Hampshire about nine months ago and became a default Boston Red Sox fan, which means I’m on their side if I go to a game at Fenway and they’re playing anyone except my home team, the Detroit Tigers. I can see myself being a default Chicago Cubs fan if I were to move to Chicago, which makes me wonder if it isn’t the teams but good ball parks that I like. The Red Sox play in Fenway with the Green Monster and the Cubs play in Wrigley Field with the ivy. Each of these parks are historically significant, and have become as much a part of baseball history as their teams.

I am wondering if people are less inclined to be Red Sox Fans now that they’ve won a World Series title. They used to garner a sympathetic fan base because they just couldn’t close the deal, but now that they’re regularly topping the chart aren’t they on the way to being the Yankees? There are enough similarities to make me question this. I’m a bit sick of seeing people everywhere wearing Red Sox hats just because they’re riding the wave. I’d suggest they stick with their local team and get off the Red Sox bandwagon before the fad fades.