Feb 18, 2011

What homework?

Noise From Silence 9 by Shel-yang
 I'm sure you've seen this happen before too. The teacher says, "while you're doing that I'll check the homework", and half the class, in perfect unison, choruses "What homework?"

Then begins the "I didn't know me had homework" and "You didn't tell us we had homework". Sometimes the students truly did forget or the teacher really hadn't told us, but that's rare. Far more likely is that students are trying to bluff this out.

Sometimes it works and the teacher is convinced or simply not bothered to check the homework when it's so apparent that so many hadn't done it, but other times, like today, the teacher doesn't let it go without a warning.

My chemistry class tried this today when the teacher had clearly set out the homework and the due date. I can almost be sure that most of the people making the noise (of not all) were just too lazy to do the homework.

The teacher said that he knew this technique. The teacher asks for homework and the students ask "what homework". And judging from that orderly chorus of "what homework", you're very well trained. It's a bit surprising to have a teacher point out a "technique" so bluntly.

Obviously some teachers would have seen through it before, but to have it identified so clearly as a technique is strange to say the least, and by a teacher, no less.  I've vaguely had a notion that every time those words (and it always starts with those two words without fail) are spoken, it's staged, albeit with most of the class in on the conspiracy. All the students have seen it at work before and most of us (and maybe the teacher too) knows how fake it is. But I've never had a clear, conscious idea that this is something most students know how to use, has seen used many times and probably used many times already.

It hadn't struck me that a teacher with many years' experience would have seen this happen lots of times. It somehow feels like these are "secrets" belonging to the students' world and somehow go unspoken, even if seen through.

It's also interesting that most times I've seen the "what homework" trick used, there were quite a lot of students to back up that illusion of everyone not knowing/remembering about the homework. No one plans this in advance, everyone hopes that the teacher forgets, and when the homework is asked for, one student asks "what homework?" and the rest follows in a chorus.

It's like a prank initiated on the spot on the teacher that everyone has seen in action before, everyone knows what to do. Those who benefits from the success of the prank do their part in the prank. Some of those that have done our homework stay silent so as to not ruin it. That silent underestanding between the students is quite fasinating. It's interesting that something spontaneous and unplanned like this can almost always go off without a hitch.

Is it because the student that initiates the cries of "what homework" instinctively chooses instance where they think many people haven't done the homework, so there'll be enough people to back up their lie? Because I think if someone did do the homework, did might keep quiet, but they wouldn't follow the lead and ask "what homework".

Certainly I remember this trick being used (not by me, because I wouldn't dare), and the most recent occasion was yesterday at Physics class. The one time I remember it working really well was with Miss Yun, and she gave us all extension for the Japanese homework. I suppose it has a better chance of working on a newer teacher that's not as experienced.

1 comment:

  1. I never heard of the what homework excuse said in unison by majority of the class, that must have been interesting to witness. :)