DEAR KELLY: My problem is simple — I hate homework. I hate doing it because I’m too tired after school to do more work and just want to chill. I also hate spending any time on the weekend doing homework because, in my book, the weekends are not supposed to be for work. I’m in high school and I would much rather be doing other things than homework when I’m not in school. I like working on cars, so I would much rather be out in the garage than sitting in my room doing math. Things like math, English and history are senseless to me and I refuse to waste my time.
I don’t think there is anything you can tell me that will make me like homework, but we had to write a letter to you in our class and tell you our problem, and this is my main problem. I don’t want to go to college. I want to go to automotive school and be a mechanic, so I find high school a total waste of my time. Since you’re the expert, do you think I’m crazy for hating homework?
– Not a Student
DEAR NOT A STUDENT: Let’s start with the obvious — no, you are not crazy. I honestly don’t know many people who can say they love homework. It’s not something that is intended to be loved. Rather, it’s intended to teach responsibility and independent learning and to help you practice the skills you have learned at school. Is it frustrating to come home after school and know that you have more work to do? Sure. But is it part of the process needed to get a high school diploma? Absolutely. Sometimes it takes more energy to fight the system or fight the process than it takes just to do the work and let go of the battle.
Traditional learning might not be what interests you. Perhaps you are more of a hands-on kind of person who likes to solve problems and use your hands to figure things out. All of that is good and well, but right now, you have to get through high school. And getting through high school means you need to be ready to do homework, like it or not. Even if you aren’t interested in going to college, you still need to focus on getting out of high school, and that involves surrendering to the fact that homework is part of the process.
Homework can be helpful with life skills such as time management. Instead of coming home and doing your homework right away, work in the garage for about an hour and then go do your homework after you have relaxed and decompressed after school. Get your work done with the idea that the sooner you finish it, the more time you have to work in the garage. Motivate yourself to do your work first so you have time to do what you love after you finish with your first priority, which is school.
How cool that you have found your passion working on cars. Having a trade like being an auto mechanic can be a great profession and provide you with a nice living. But reaching this goal involves more schooling beyond high school. In order to fix cars, you need to learn about cars. If you have established the mind set that you hate homework and refuse to do it, how will you handle it when they give homework in auto mechanics school? Your mindset needs to change from “I refuse to do homework” to “I need to do it, whether I like it or not.” If you want to be successful, it will take work outside the classroom no matter what your choice of professions. Doing homework teaches you that value of being prepared, whether it be in school or on the job.
As a mechanic, you will need math skills to figure out car calculations. Or if you have to write something detailing what was wrong with the car for insurance purposes, English skills will come in handy. Working on cars today involves using a computer and computerized diagnostic tools. What if you decide to own your own shop one day? You will definitely use all of those skills if you decide to run your own business. You never know when the skills you learned in high school will benefit you later in life. What seems senseless right now might end up helping you further your career and your success later in life.
One more point: Seeing the weekends as all for fun isn’t realistic. Even as adults when we don’t have homework, we still have things like housework or lawn work or book work to do on the weekends. The idea that weekends are just for fun isn’t a good balance and will cause issues when you’re an adult. You can’t expect to play hard if you don’t work hard first. Most adults have some kind of work to do every weekend to maintain their home, their lives or their jobs. Sunday is not Funday unless all your weekend responsibilities have been met.
There are no magic words I have that will make you love homework. I didn’t always love homework when I was in school, either, but I did love learning and my guess is you will too when you are interested in what is being taught. Your goal right now is to graduate from high school so you can pursue what you love to do — which is to work on cars.
To graduate from high school, you need to do homework. It’s just that simple.
Write to Kelly Richardson at Teen Talk, The Sacramento Bee, P.O. Box 15880, Sacramento, CA 95852, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.