The Kid is sitting at the kitchen table working on his homework and I look over and see him tracing a picture from the computer screen. I have never seen anyone trace from a computer screen, nor have I even thought of the idea.* Homework sure has changed over the years! When I was a kid, we would have to prepare in advance by making sure we looked up things in the library during the week and to bring home the necessary resources for the weekend project. If you forgot to do so, you'd have to cobble together something from the set of encyclopedias that you might be lucky enough to have in your house.
It appears that today, homework is done by gathering data from the internet; and I assume that now teachers grade the work based on how well the kids cut and paste it all together - basically they are junior editors - not by how succinctly they can put together sentences. And this may also be the reason why at work I see so many poorly constructed emails and poor spelling (which shouldn't occur at all since just about every computer and phone with text messaging has a spell checker). In many cases, I find that emails from people that have university degrees are often the worst for spelling errors and poor diction. And it seems to me formal education has less to do with good writing and grammar, but usually the people who write and compose the best are those that read a lot - thank goodness for books! If you don't mind getting a soft cover, books are often not that expensive - often around $10 - $15, or less if you buy an electronic version. I am not a big reader like some people I know who read fast and can devour books in mere days, but I read a fair amount - I often have a magazine tucked in my purse, a book on my night-table and several books on my computer or iPod. There was a time when I would proudly show off my two little bookcases to people in my early apartment and tell them that I had read every book on the shelves. I can't say that today - today I am one of these people who owns more books than I have read, but I'm okay with that. They all get looked at from time to time.
It also seems to run in the family -not just me but my mom has a large collection of books and so does my brother - who has a couple bookcases of just cookbooks alone! About a decade ago it looked like the book world was doomed, but along came Amazon and Chapters and then e-readers and the industry seemed to be looking up. Every time I have stepped into a Chapters store there have always been lots of people in the store, and they are not just there because of the Starbucks either.
So perhaps there is stil hope for reading and writing after all. What do you think? Are you a reader? And tell me how your kids do their homework, I am really curious about that as well.
*Not to mention that I was taught to avoid touching your computer screen so that it wouldn't be damaged!