There is a common misconception that smart kids shouldn't fail in easy work because it is, well, easy for them, and they'll finish in no time at all. And so, it is only right for harder work to be given after they have complete easy/standard tasks.
Some of the worst marks I have received when I was little were subjects I was actually quite good at - and for a variety of reasons - so that the gap between my spelling and maths tests wasn't big (I always had this idea in my head that if I was doing badly at the subjects my parents knew I was good at they wouldn't be too fussed about my bad math marks), so that my marks were comparable to the rest of the kids, because it was an act of rebellion, and of curiousity - what does it feel like to fail a spelling test?
But most of the reason is pure boredom.
It may seem reasonable to expect a kid who is very good at English to finish the easy stuff that you know it can do with it's eyes shut in about three seconds, and then you can dig out some harder work.
But what sense does that make? I cottonned on pretty quick that the teachers knew that I was beyond some of the stuff in class, and so I reasoned that the only reason that they could possibly be giving this crap to me is because they hate me and want to make me suffer. The world hates me. Wah. If you know a kid can do it, why make them do it again? I always used to hate it when the grade three teacher would give us grade two work and say 'just checking that you know it still.' It never made any sense to me.
From your point of view, the kid should spend fifteen minutes at most on this 'easy stuff' that they 'simply must do'. Fifteen miserable minutes. Is that too much to ask?
The answer? Yes.
Think of it from a child's point of view. When I was younger, days seemed to last for a milennia - and because when you're younger, a single day is a much larger percentage of your entire life than it is when you're older. A bored seven year old wasting fifteen minutes of his life doing shit he hates is like an adult wasting three hours before getting to the 'good stuff'.
And then, as you get older and fifteen minutes may not seem like a century, you start feeling like you're running out of time. Why should I waste my time on this? I should be out conquering the world! Teenagers and older children start to see school as a barrier between them and a life - and that is true for even the most academic who really must rely on education to have any sort of quality of life - a year or so ago I told my mother, much to her utter shock, that I was dropping out of school the second I turned 16 - the legal age to drop out in Australia. Giving boring work during school further fuels this belief that school is a sadistic invention of adults designed to torture the younger generation.
A kid, or anyone, for that matter, is not programmed to accept work that is too hard or too easy for them - by 'too hard' I mean beyond challenging and into the frightening realms of 'impossible', and by 'too easy' I mean something that is not quick and simple but long and fidgety and boring. Boredom has been a large element in my schooling, and I resent that - primary school was basically made up of English that was too easy, maths that was too hard and sport that was simply useless. When a kid faces twelve years locked up in an institution they sometimes have a very bleak view of life and of adults. Teachers are the saddest people with the most pathetic social lives or IQ - and these are the adults that we most frequently associate with.
Right now I'm slightly pissed off, even though I know I shouldn't be - I managed to wriggle my way out of math and science FOREVER. But the source of my annoyance is that I am still forced to endure it for three weeks. Three weeks is too long a time for me, a teenager, to endure tolerably, but it is not long enough to learn anything particularly useful. So, I wonder, why bother? Why not let me live my utopia now? Why must I wait through something hard and boring for something I want? That is the topic, dear reader, of this rant.
So next time you say 'Finish this off and I'll give you some harder/easier/funner work.' Have mercy. The only thing worse than hard work is boring work, because boring work is an utter waste of time. If I dropped dead right now all I could boast of is half a life wasted on math sums.