I am currently a senior in high school and taking an oceanography class as one of my science credits. One of the things that bothers me about this course is that the teacher gives an incredible amount of "busy work" (worksheets, memorizing tedious amounts of information, ect.). I would imagine that with a class like oceanography that holds so much potential for hands on activities, this teacher would understand. Also just to note there is not standardized test required for this course, so the teacher has more leeway in terms of outlining what she wants to do for the course.
The purpose however of this posting is to ask all of you what your thoughts on busy work are. I really get irritated when teachers just hand out worksheets, coloring maps, ect. for homework or class work when that time could be used for much more productive things. I certainly don't want to come across as some 18 year old brat who doesn't want to do their homework, but I just wanted to hear other teachers' thoughts on this subject.
Well, to be 100% honest, I've seen many teachers assign busy work over the years, and your teacher may be one of them. However, I cannot for one second say if they are or not mostly because 1) I teach Social Studies, not Science, 2) I don't know what your state's standards are (whether you have a stand. test or not doesn't matter in some cases). Is the class just an elective ran by the school? In that case, the teacher has run of the course.
The teacher may feel her worksheets are important for practice, whereas you may not need the practice and thus feel them to be unnecessary.
Now back to point: my personal views on busy work is simply, I don't assign it. Actually, let me add the disclaimer that I do assign busy work in terms of punishment. At my school, detention is used copying over pages from the agenda for an hour and half; so to me giving my students a boring textbook assignment is better than having them practice writing the school dress code and bell schedule.
My point about standardized testing is that since this course does not require it, the teacher has more freedom in running her lesson plan so she doesn't just have to adhere to a strict lesson plan for the test. It is an elective course in that students are free to choose what science they would like to do their senior year. There is an option between Geosystems, Oceanography, Anatomy, and then the A.P. equivalents of Biology, Chemistry, and Physics.
Well I'd imagine that electives in your HS are similar to that in mine. Here, teachers make their own syllabus and it gets approved by the dept. head. That's about as much restriction as there is, so if you really feel like it's just busy work, ask your teacher why they are assigning what they are. But remember to ask in a polite manner that shows your genuinely curious.
I agree with Soccer Dad. Some of what seems to be busy work to you may be to enable other kids to get a handle on the material.
When I taught 7th grade math, my Do Now problem every day for 3 months was the times tables. Two years later, I teach some of those same kids. They can now factor because they have those tables memorized. Some of the other kids are at a huge disadvantage.
Could it be that some of those assignments fall into the same category-- having you memorize or color a map so that you'll have the information you need at your fingertips for the next chapter?
I agree with you though, that if there's too much of that stuff, there's a problem. Oceanography should be a vibrant, living science as far as I see. (I've never taken it though.)
Is it possible that it's the teacher's first year, or first year with the course, and he or she is simply overwhelmed? That's no excuse, but it sometimes is the reality.
I agree-- a polite conversation may be the way to go.
I think some students feel the same way about my Spanish class. It takes about thirty exposures to learn a new word. So I have to give the work to students again and again. I try to present in as many ways as possible. But for sometimes written practice (worksheets) is the way to go. Some students need more than 30 times and some studens pick it up in two or three times. I am sure that the second group think they do a lot of busy work.
Well I think that worksheets being "dang close" to evil may be true for some areas of learning, but not all. JMO
Which leads me to further say that maybe the teacher who assigns the worksheets honestly feels they are helpful for success, that doesn't make her a bad teacher. It makes her a dedicated teacher who may or may not be taking the best approach available.
Sounds like a bad teacher to me. Worksheets aren't automatically evil but they come dang close...
I don't think it's fair to call the OP's teacher a bad one. As Alice said, he could be very overwhelmed (not that's that a bad excuse) or is teaching Oceanography for the first time. Hopefully if he's using the worksheets just to survive the year he can brush up on his skills over the summer. I had to do that with one of my courses last year, and I don't consider myself a bad teacher- it was my first year, I was slammed, and I was just trying to get through it.
I see teachers giving needless paperwork so I tend to have to agree with this one. Yes, some paperwork is fine. Paperwork throughout every single class period especially for a class like this, is not necessary. There is a clear difference between practice and busy work.