I was heavily influenced by Orwell and Just William when I was 14, according to a speech I wrote for a Year 9 English assignment that I recently discovered. Since he first came to the world’s attention in 1922, William Brown has taught us to always question authority, avoid school and spend our pocket money on cream buns. In fact, I hold Richmal Crompton’s creation (almost) entirely responsible for the fact my results on the Political Compass at times veer towards Leftist Anarchism (thankfully, I’ve read some books since Just William to balance me out a bit). This upbringing, along with the brief to write a speech to our classmates based on Orwell’s character Napoleon from Animal Farm, led me to implore my ‘comrades’ to eradicate the evil of homework from our lives. It seems like a waste to keep this shut in a folder somewhere, so here it is.
“Intellectuals of England, I have called you today to this meeting to inform and awaken you to the injustice of this land!
In our lives, supposedly of democracy and liberty, we only get four years of freedom. These four years are the first of our lives, and probably the best. The fifth September of our lives, we are carted off to school, where we shall spend the next 14 years in misery. Of course, I am not against schooling, this is necessary to expand our brains, and is often worthwhile. However, I do not agree with the malicious practice that is homework.
Do you enjoy homework? Of course not! Do teachers enjoy marking homework? No they do not! Do parents enjoy nagging their children about homework? No, they have many more pressing matters to nag their children about! I see homework as what it truly is, a generation of evil. Nobody likes it, nobody sees any point in it. Everybody knows this; the pupils, the teachers, the parents. So why are we forced to learn exactly how long a day is on Pluto, or what happens to x when you times it by pi and then divide by y and add twelve (ANSWER: your calculator/brain turns to mush)? The answer, comrades, is revenge! Homework was inflicted on our parents and teachers, and their parents and teachers before them. They had to suffer therefore they must make us suffer too! I say nay! We must put a stop to this vicious conflict. Burn the homework diaries I say! Throw away the tally of late homeworks piled up next to Philippa’s name in the mark books!
Hands up those of you who would rather spend their evenings out having fun, staying in watching TV or just having an early night? Exactly. I have a vision, a vision of how things could be in a land free of homework, extra revision and rid of projects! Long summer evenings spent day dreaming in tall grass, cold winter nights spent snuggled up, staring into the flames of a wood fire. I see Easter holidays brimming with treasure hunts, horse rides and picnics. I see Autumn holidays spent collecting conkers, picking mushrooms, building bonfires. I dream of Saturdays, long, sunny Saturdays spent leisurely in whichever way we choose. I dream of Sundays devoted to beauty whether that beauty be the love of God, good food, the company of family and friends, nature, poetry or paintings. I pine for school nights overflowing with happiness, tranquillity and family harmony instead of the oppressive mood amongst family members, the bursts of hatred escaping from mother and daughter’s mouths.
Wouldn’t it be fantastic to be able to spend our Sunday evenings watching Antiques Roadshow, Time Team or Songs of Praise -all of which are educational – instead of rushing Geography homework, our English presentation, our History project? Would your life not feel more satisfied sprawled out under a tree or playing netball in break times rather than doing that emergency French revision for that exam you forgot about?
I know you all agree with me, comrades, I have told you what I wish to happen, what I know could happen. I am now going to tell you how we are to accomplish this happiness. First and foremost, you must be prepared to suffer your cause. Pay no heed to their protests. Rebel! Fight for freedom, for liberty! We must never slack, we must never wilt, we shall never surrender. After school work is the poison, those who administer it are the enemy. Lay down your principals [sic]! No you will not work academically after the school bell rings! No you will not finish off that piece of work tonight even if it will only take a minute! And you shall never, ever catch up with work at home! As I said previously, homework diaries are to be destroyed, orders are to be disobeyed, homework boycoted, revision at home or in breaks abandoned.
Perceiver, comrades! If you lost all faith in work and education, the end will be long yet if you fight for your liberty, for your life, your life and your offspring will live and prosper in happiness. Children of the land, comrades! The whole world is our playground! Let us go! Let us strive! Let us play!”
I got 9.5 out of 10, but that wasn’t the point, really, was it?