Yesterday I assigned 10 problems to my College Algebra class and gave them a class period to work on them. Anything that was unfinished became homework. Each problem had 5 parts and the section they cover ties up a bunch of ideas that we have been focused on for months. It was good cumulative work that cemented some important ideas for my students, and these students have struggled with algebra for a long time.
For a few, you'd have thought I asked them to move a mountain one stone at a time. Such whining... such complaining... finally some of their friends told them to pipe down.
I could be mad about this, but I just have to laugh. These students that cannot bear 45 minutes of math work are the same ones that can play a mindless game like Flappy Birds for hours. Focusing on homework for hours on end is destined to be a part of their future should they want to succeed in college. Sometimes I think I should give them more work, just to get them ready for the future, but I don't think endless assignments are productive or useful. Instead we do a little bit of work most days.
It's interesting. I actually am asking them to move a mountain, a mountain of algebra. We do it one day, one small stone at a time. It takes all year.