“…And on a subsequent day, God realised that he hadn’t quite ended his work after all and created Show My Homework. It would have dominion over everyone and everything.”
A new awe-inspiring power seems to be controlling my teaching life, and it started on the day our school joined the multitude and bowed down before the mighty Show My Homework (SMH).
I now find myself going online almost daily to visit this sacred site. After spending a suitable few moments there in peaceful, respectful meditation, I enter in my homework, including how long it should take and the date it’s due in. The pupils (and any adults on their case at home) have all downloaded the hallowed app to pick up this information.
Non-believers might hold that SMH is not the new messiah – merely a silly toy. These sceptics might say that teachers could continue to set their homework in the lessons, as in the pre-app ancient times. This view, however, ignores the deep spiritual hold that SMH has over our students. So deep, in fact, that they only acknowledge the existence of a set homework if it is also sent via SMH.
Whenever I now introduce homework in class, a hand will go up within a nanosecond. I know what’s coming. It is easily the most common question in our school today: “Is it on Show My Homework?” They cannot help themselves, such is their reverence for SMH. Even the ones who never actually do the homework routinely ask this question.
Resistance is futile. I have tried: “Yes, I suppose I could send it to SMH, too. But you’d have to log on there at some later point, then find this particular homework, then transfer the task into your exercise book. But look! It’s right in front of you on the projector screen! So why not jot down the details now, on the very page where you’ll be doing that homework? No need for SMH?”
But they just look at me sympathetically when I commit such sacrilege, in the same kindly way believers often do when they encounter a non-believer. Poor me, with my sad, godless, analogue attitudes.
I must face up to the truth. My students believe in SMH in a much deeper sense than they will ever believe in me. So if I sometimes fail to put a set homework on the sacred site I must accept that the homework does not actually exist. This is now the case, even on those occasions when we might have spent the best part of a lesson explaining and researching for the homework. That’s how it is now.
Given SMH’s immeasurably greater power, I should just give up trying to compete with it. Maybe if I can get in there and set up “Show My Lessons” – a sequence of live lessons on the app – my students might start believing in me again, too?
Stephen Petty is head of humanities at Lord Williams’s School in Thame, Oxfordshire