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How today’s kids do homework

My son had to do a homework for his Biology class, a kinda stupid long worksheet. He was given a bunch of DNA sequences (and had the codon table handy) and needed to translate that into amino acid sequences. The a.a. sequence spells out a sentence. Busy-work, if anyone asks me.

Anyway, he was too lazy to do it by hand, so he wrote a little program to do it for him: type in DNA sequence, click OK, out comes the a.a. sequence. He sent his teacher both the answers and the program….just goes to show that doing this homework does not require a brain capable of reasoning.

I know there are gazillions of programs out there that do the same thing and more, but he did not know that at the time, and anyway, that was quite ingenious, methinks. You can download my son’s program here (actually, the most direct, straight-to-download link is: here).

Comments

  1. #1 catgirl
    February 27, 2009

    In high school, I often got Bs instead of As because I rarely bothered to do homework assignments. They were usually tedious busy work and I rarely learned anything from them, so I felt like they were a waste of time. There were a few good teachers who gave meaningful assignments, and I did those, but for the other classes, even the textbooks were designed with tedious, useless homework. Personally, if I were a teacher, any student who got an A on every test would earn an A for the course, but I understand that I did not meet the requirements for those classes, even if the requirements were pointless, so I accepted my Bs.

  2. #2 Alex
    February 27, 2009

    Aww. Good luck to your sweet little hacker!

  3. #3 Rr
    February 28, 2009

    There being a a.a. sentence makes little sense to me, is that supposed to be a quick way of verifying if you got the right answers, or some sort of “instant reward”?

    I’m used to being told by teachers that tedious repetitionwork is for the sake of helping you learn to get quicker at solving those type of things by partial memorization/improved identification skills for certain types of problems. I.e. stuff that matters on tests/exams when you don’t have time to hesitate, nor ways to delegate tasks to computer processing.

    That said, that’s definitely a smart way of doing homework one doesn’t care for.

  4. #4 Dr. Kate
    February 28, 2009

    Unfortunately, I think what you’ll find is that a lot of today’s kids (those that don’t have as awesome a dad as Coturnix) would have done a google search, found someone who’s done a similar activity (or posted a similar “translator” app online), the copied.

    But maybe I’m just overly pessimistic about the state of today’s youth.

  5. #5 Dr. Kate
    February 28, 2009

    Oops. S/b “and then copied”, not “the copied”.

  6. #6 c gar
    August 3, 2009

    Well, then what do you suggest? As a Biology teacher, I find myself looking for new things to do for students and I still get those “smart kids” who have a no homework policy.
    I believe that homework -be it busy or not- is a form of discipline. We all have menial tasks to do in any job. If a person refuses to do tasks, how will they be in a regular job? That’s like a pro basketball player refusing to do lay-ups and such drill, or a musician who does not practice scales.
    Thanks for any suggestions.