Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Homework: What Is It Good For, Dependency? | September 27, 2013

Todd Bloch (@blocht574)

There are many views in education about homework ranging from : Necessary for success to an evil tool from the old days of education. Parents, teachers and administrators are on both sides of the debate. Students not surprisingly are pretty much united against homework.


So the burning question is: What is Homework Good For?


The easy answer comes from students:

  • boredom

  • repetition

  • frustration

  • wasting time

  • busy work

These are not the desired outcomes when a teacher assigns the work, but what happens. Is something lost in translation? Most assigning the work feel it is practice that is reinforcing the skills learned in the classroom. Not being concerned by the students perception of the work. Recently, I have noticed a trend where teachers profess at Open House that they don't "give" homework, followed by a list of weekly at home expectations that include: Math practice (Online w/ TenMarks or IXL), spelling practice (Spelling city) a weekly reader and daily independent reading. These same teachers also expect student to finish any work not completed in class at home. All this work is done at home, so what is it if not homework?

Parents expect homework. They use homework as a gauge to measure what is going on in the classroom. It informs them of what learning is happening in the classroom. Working on it with their child can give them an idea of how their child is doing. Parents often mistaking the lack of homework for success by their student in a class. Parents also feel that IF their child does the homework it should be reflected in their grades, no matter how proficient they in the subject area tests. Of course teachers can have a hard time knowing if the student or the parent completed the homework.
Traditionalist feel that homework is practice of the vital school skills learned in class. How are our student going to learn math, spelling, vocabulary, etc. with out this practice? Practice is helpful. Should our students be practicing without a coach? DO they all need to practice the same material? How much practice do they need? Does practice count in the big picture?

Instead of giving homework, teachers need to teach student to identify their strengths and weaknesses. Give their students the tools to allow them to decide what needs to be practiced and how to practice. Then be available during practice time to help students hone their skills. By making this fundamental change, students will still have homework, but they will be the ones deciding what they need to do and when it needs to be done. Freeing up time for family and extracurricular activities. It will also end the homework dependency our society has created over the past few decades!