Teachers should be invited to reflect on whether any given example of homework will help students think deeply about questions that matter.
What philosophy of teaching, what theory of learning, lies behind each assignment?
It becomes even more curious, for that matter, in light of three other facts: 1. They include children’s frustration and exhaustion, lack of time for other activities, and possible loss of interest in learning.
Many parents lament the impact of homework on their relationship with their children; they may also resent having to play the role of enforcer and worry that they will be criticized either for not being involved enough with the homework or for becoming too involved. The positive effects of homework are largely mythical.
), or that it “reinforces” what students were taught in class (a word that denotes the repetition of rote behaviors, not the development of understanding), or that it teaches children self-discipline and responsibility (a claim for which absolutely no evidence exists).
Above all, principals need to help their faculties see that the most important criterion for judging decisions about homework (or other policies, for that matter) is the impact they’re likely to have on students’ from learning,” says education professor Harvey Daniels.And teachers who have long harbored doubts about the value of homework feel pressured by those parents who mistakenly believe that a lack of afterschool assignments reflects an insufficient commitment to academic achievement.Such parents seem to reason that as long as their kids have lots of stuff to do every night, never mind what it is, then learning must be taking place.(As one mother told me, “It’s cheating to say this is 20 minutes of homework if only your fastest kid can complete it in that time.”) Then work on reducing the amount of homework irrespective of such guidelines and expectations so that families, not schools, decide how they will spend most of their evenings.Quantity, however, is not the only issue that needs to be addressed.Let’s face it: Most children dread homework, or at best see it as something to be gotten through. Educate yourself and share what you’ve learned with teachers, parents, and central office administrators.Thus, even if it did provide other benefits, they would have to be weighed against its likely effect on kids’ love of learning. Make sure you know what the research says – that there is no reason to believe that children would be at any disadvantage in terms of their academic learning or life skills if they had much less homework, or even none at all.Homework in most schools isn’t limited to those occasions when it seems appropriate and important.Rather, the point of departure seems to be: “We’ve decided ahead of time that children will have to do every night (or several times a week).Is it about wrestling with ideas or mindlessly following directions? We should change the fundamental expectation in our schools so that students are asked to take schoolwork home only when a there’s a reasonable likelihood that a particular assignment will be beneficial to most of them. What are its other effects on their lives, and on their families? Suggest that teachers assign only what they design.When that’s not true, they should be free to spend their after-school hours as they choose. In most cases, students should be asked to do only what teachers are willing to create themselves, as opposed to prefabricated worksheets or generic exercises photocopied from textbooks.