Yesterday was Fathers' Day in Australia, and perhaps in other countries as well. Fathers' Day and Mothers' Day leave me a bit cold, to be honest. I don't appreciate the way shops thrust their marketing down our throats, implying that we should demonstrate our love for our parents by buying expensive gifts. It must also be a very hard day for people who have lost parents or children, or who have been unable to have children, or who are going through complicated divorces etc. Indeed, these celebratory days may serve to alienate and exclude more people than they include!
But I digress! The point of this blog is not for me to rave on about social issues that make me feel vaguely nauseous.
My previous post sparked some discussion about homework and how it can be best made relevant, and of best use to families. With this in mind, and in acknowledgement of yesterday being Fathers' Day, I am reminded of a conversation I had with a student a fortnight ago.
I have recently started doing some supply/casual/substitute teaching at a local highschool. During a recent lesson, I noticed a girl quietly finishing off some work from another subject. When I asked her about it, her face lit up and she proceeded to tell me enthusiastically about her science assignment. As part of a unit about electricity, the year 9 class had been set a practical assignment to build something that included electical circuitry. They had a number of optoions to choose from, including solar powered vehicles, burglar alarms etc. The girl I was speaking to had chosen to build a dolls' house which had electric (LED) lights in each room which could be operated in various configurations with different switches. Instead of taking the simple way out and just poking the LED lights through a cardboard box and cutting out windows and doors, the girl and her father had worked together to build a beautiful two-storey, wooden dolls' house. It took them many hours of work, designing, cutting, sanding and assembling the house, not to mention the electrical wiring and circuitry. And what a lasting monument to a solid father/daughter relationship! At a stage of life when tradition has it that parents and children are least likely to get along, here was a homework assignment that helped to bring them together! I wonder of the teacher, when he or she set the assignment, had it in mind that it could provide such pleasure to a father and daughter.
(P.S. I realise that some readers' hackles will be raised by my positioning of the apostrophe in Fathers' Day, but I see it as a time to celebrate all fathers and father-figures; fathers as a class, not as individuals.)