Extreme Homework

Even when disaster strikes, students around the world try to keep up with their assignments.

Every time there's a disaster—flooding, earthquake, war, massive power outage—you can expect to see certain types of photographs. Leveled homes, piles of rubble, injured bodies, crying children. Images of destruction. But there's also a more hopeful image that photographers tend to capture in these terrible moments: children doing their homework. 

Cassandra Medina does homework in a hotel room in Greeley, Colorado, after flooding displaced her family from their home last year. (Brennan Linsley/AP Images)

 

A boy does his homework in a displaced-persons' settlement near Cartagena, Colombia. (Andrew Winning/Reuters)

 

A student in Tirana, Albania does her homework by candlelight during a power outage in 2007. (Arben Celi/Reuters)

 

Cristhian Rosales, 12, completes her homework during a blackout in Managua, Nicaragua. (Ariel Leon/Reuters)

 

A student does his homework in Lushan county, Sichuan province, China, after an earthquake hit the area last year. (Reuters)

 

Mounzer, 14, does his homework along a street due to an electricity shortage in the Duma neighborhood of Damascus last year. (Bassam Khabieh/Reuters)

It's not just students who remain committed to education, even in difficult circumstances. This teacher graded his students' papers in a displaced-persons' camp:

A teacher marks students' homework at a camp for displaced Chadians near the Sudanese border in 2008. (Finbarr O'Reilly/Reuters)

These images are a reminder of the many roles that education can play in a child's life. Learning offers the promise of a better future. And school—with its procedures and assignments and deadlines—can provide a sense of structure and stability amid chaos.

Presented by

Eleanor Barkhorn is a former senior editor at The Atlantic.

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register with Disqus.

Please note that The Atlantic's account system is separate from our commenting system. To log in or register with The Atlantic, use the Sign In button at the top of every page.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

The Absurd Psychology of Restaurant Menus

Would people eat healthier if celery was called "cool celery?"

Video

This Japanese Inn Has Been Open For 1,300 Years

It's one of the oldest family businesses in the world.

Video

What Happens Inside a Dying Mind?

Science cannot fully explain near-death experiences.

Video

Is Minneapolis the Best City in America?

No other place mixes affordability, opportunity, and wealth so well.

More in

Just In