This I Believe

David - Cross Plains, Wisconsin
Entered on June 2, 2006
Age Group: 18 - 30
Themes: integrity, work
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Doing Homework

I am a senior in high school. For four years now I’ve changed friends, kept friends, observed and been a part of social circles, and seen four hundred sixty four other classmates do the same.

As I approach the end of this learning experience, I realize that I’ve discovered something: I believe in doing my homework.

There are any number of required, and boring, and basic level classes (English 9, anyone?) whose teachers assign valueless worksheets. Busy work. Text reviews. Seventeenth century vocabulary brush-up sheets. Little homework assignments that will, I know, give me no long-term benefit while costing fifteen minutes of precious, precious time. Of course I hardly need to mention that even if the homework is done, and learned, it will be promptly, and without regret, be forgotten.

I have always had friends who would look at their homework, squirm for twenty seconds or less, and come to the conclusion that no, they were not going to waste their time. “Why,” they ask, “should I do this?” I have an answer.

Doing homework isn’t about learning what’s on the worksheet. Doing homework’s not even necessary. My peers who don’t do their homework are graduating, just like I am. They’re going to college, just like I am. However, there is an intrinsic value in having done work that I won’t use in the future. A value in having set a habit of work ethic that I know will be used. At its most basic doing homework is about habits. It’s about dealing with the notion that not every moment of our lives is, unfortunately, dictated by us. It’s about going further in all you do.

Because doing something extra is what really matters. The fifth worksheet I’ve gazed at (eyelids slowly drooping shut) in one Monday night, the fifth one in a row that I couldn’t care less about, isn’t teaching me how to solve chemical equilibrium equations. What I’m learning, and realizing, as I trudge through the problem set is that doing something extra isn’t killing me, after all. In fact it’s (Dare I say?) satisfying.

People doing extra work. That’s what gets us through life every day. Picture the band teacher who organizes an after school pep band because his students are excited about the upcoming playoff game, or citizens who run for local office just because they’re not quite satisfied with the present state of affairs. It’s people who go above and beyond, people who do extra, who are recognized and, more importantly, appreciated. They leave a mark on others’ lives. Doing homework is about doing more. This I believe.