Today I'm rerunning an old column from my education.com stint, this time about unusual homework excuses. Seems to be appropo, since we are coming right up on the state math test and we will be giving plenty of homework next week.
This column, titled Homework, Shmomework originally ran on December 18, 2007 at education.com.
Did anyone ever really try to use the excuse, "My dog ate my homework?" I never heard anyone use it when I was in school, and I certainly never had a kid try it on me.
At any rate, dogs have better things to eat nowadays, and kids have more imaginative excuses too. Here are the Top 5 I've encountered during my tenure.
1) "My mom/dad/primary caregiver didn't understand how to do it."
Um, that's why your mom/dad/primary caregiver is not getting anything written down in my grade book. I think it's fantastic for parents to show interest in what their child is bringing home and even to offer help if needed. I wish more parents at my school would show such an interest! But the homework is always something similar to what we've practiced in class. The kids never say, "I didn't understand how to do it." They'd much rather blame a family member. Which brings us to number two...
2) "I couldn't do it because my little brother drew on it."
When I hear this excuse, which is thankfully not very often, I always ask to see the homework in question. Usually, there are a few thin pencil lines drawn across the page. Sure, that sort of thing would ruin a Picasso original, but it hardly renders a math worksheet undoable. It's the equivalent of telling someone your car has been totaled when you spill coffee on the passenger seat.
3) "At the Day Care, they don't give us much time to do our homework; we have to go out and play!"
Sometimes those evil Day Care staffers really annoy me. I mean, the nerve! All these kids want to do is finish their homework assignment in a thorough and timely fashion, and these despicable adults are forcing them to play! I can't help but imagine a scene in which an Oliver Twist-like urchin meekly asks, "Please, sir, can I have some more time?"
4) "Since the homework isn't for a grade, I didn't do it."
Huh?? This is a new one, and has only been used once, and bizarrely, that one time was in front of the girl's mother! I have no idea how she got the notion that she wasn't getting graded on the homework. Especially since she heard me say, "OK, then, that's a zero for you," every time she didn't do an assignment. Maybe that wasn't clear enough, and she thought I was stockpiling Coke Zero for her in the classroom fridge.
5) "It's not in my backpack!"
This little gem is the one I hear the most. The kids make this exclamation in a tone that suggests that they most definitely would have completed the assignment if only it hadn't magically disappeared. I would love to be able to use this one in my life:
"Sir, that will be twenty dollars, please."
"It's not in my wallet!!"
I imagine that teachers will be giving homework and students will be making excuses until the end of time. I'm just looking forward to hearing something truly convincing. Like maybe, "My mom/dad/primary caregiver ate my homework."