Monday, February 13, 2012

Challenging the core beliefs of homework

On #edfocus we have been reading "Rethinking Homework."  After reading the first half of the book I have a few thoughts to share that have really impacted me.

1. The role of the school is to extend learning beyond the classroom.  

Is learning actually taking place?  Or is it meaningless work? Don't get me wrong there can be good homework, but we need to reflect and be sure what we send home is extremely important to meeting the instructional goals that we have.  Sending homework home just because it's what you've always done is not acceptable.  It needs to be well thought out, and encourage learning.  

2. Intellectual activity is intrinsically more valuable than nonintellectual activity. 

I believe we need to give back more time to our students.  When I hear comments from students that they spent 2-3 hours on homework the night before, it makes me cringe.  So are they just complying or is learning occurring?  In the book, it is suggested that 10 minutes per grade level should be the measure.  For example, students in grade 12 should not have more than 120 minutes of homework.   

3. Home work teaches responsibility. 

Isn't responsibility just obedience?

Vattertrot (2009) "Responsibility is often a code word for obedience...When we say we want students to be responsibile, are we saying we want them to obedient - to do what we want them to do when we want them to do it, to be mindless drones, blindly obedient to authority?" (p. 11)

4. Lots of homework is a sign of a rigorous curriculum.

Many worry about not giving homework, because they fear that they may be labeled as easy.  When in fact they have a very rigorous curriculum.  

5. Good teachers give homework; good students do their homework. 

This couldn't be farther from the truth.  I believe good teachers still may give homework from time to time, but it is meaningful and isn't something that takes 2-3 hours to complete per night.  I have witnessed many times students that don't complete homework do very well on standardized  tests like the ACT.  

We often categorize students into two categories, is this a true assumption?  

Compliant = Hardworker

Non-compliant = Lazy 

Many of our students do not go home to a supportive environment.  Many of our students that are non-compliant or lazy as we call them lack a good home environment.  They are even less likely to complete homework when it is meaningless and not attached to the learning in the classroom.  

Take some time to think about how you use homework?  Do you take these factors into account?

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