Friday, September 1, 2017

I Loathe Homework

I've been working in public education for going on fourteen years this year. I've been a parent of a student going on four years this year. And this may be a horrible confession to make as an educator. but I loathe homework. Over the past few years I've really started to philosophically question the idea of homework, and though I hate it as a parent I'm not completely convinced as a teacher of the idea of completely eliminating it.

As a student myself the thought of homework did not leave any lasting negative impression on me. It didn't leave a positive one either though. I know I had it; I know I did it. In fact a couple of my football buddies copied my homework quite often, and though I took upper level courses I don't remember it dominating my life after school. My after school time was spent at practices and working when I was older and playing in the street with the neighbors when I was younger. Oh and tackling my mother's chore list left on the fridge.

But my elementary student has had homework about every night since kindergarten. Lucky for me I usually just have to say do your homework, and as she entered second grade I just started trusting that she was doing what she needed to do. Her teacher never said anything to me otherwise so I'm still assuming she did it most nights.

However, the reading log she's had since kindergarten is my most dreaded homework with her. She doesn't like to read; yet she's slightly above grade level skill wise so we argue every other day it feels like because she wants to read baby books just to get it done rather than investing in a longer grade level appropriate book that she could read over the course of several nights.  I remember asking her teacher at one point what was the purpose of the reading homework. I didn't really get a clear answer. To me whether she's reading to learn words and the skill of reading verse reading to work on comprehension and critical thinking over the ideas of the book made a difference in what was acceptable for her to read which is why I felt the purpose of this assigned homework was important for her and me to know. I want her to read but I feel like forcing her to read every single night for however long the requirement is just going to make it harder for her to foster a love for reading eventually. This is where I feel there has to be clear purpose in homework because I even know from my early days of teaching we sometimes assign homework because the higher ups say we need to give kids a certain amount of homework a night, but a few years ago as a teacher I started to rebel against this thinking. I started to hear from students and friends with older kids of kids spending hours- like another 4-6 hours - after seven hours in school doing homework!

I find that reality frustrating as a student, teacher, and parent. Education is important but there are so many other things our children need "educational" experience with than some academic skill set. They need social skills- outside in the neighborhood, on the community basketball court, even in the local Mc Donald's parking lot. If they're sitting inside doing homework not only are they probably in front of a screen the only social building skills they're getting is through social media probably while they're doing their homework . They need to know about team work and collaboration whether that's putting in time after school with a sport or helping out at home. They need to learn personal responsibility outside of completing school work and again that can be taught through chores at home or a job after school. They need time to explore their interest and learn what it takes to pursue them. Again this may be in the form of sports, drama, some kind of art, or a variety of other things. They need to learn how to build and maintain relationships. Again if they're in front of a screen because most education is through a screen anymore rather they're not getting the personal building skills that comes from interacting with friends, family, and teammates. They need time to develop these skills.

I just flat out do not support the idea of bombarding kids with four + hours of homework a night. The health risk for this alone with anxiety, depression, obesity, I think would be enough to deter from thinking this is an acceptable practice. As a teacher of older students I know they have activities and jobs and some of them are going from 730 am until 9 or 10 at night before they even have a chance to look at homework. That's setting kids up for failure and/or sleep deprivation.

It quit being my practice awhile ago  to give kids homework that's due the next day.  They get reading and long range projects that are done in and out of class where they can assess where to best fit it into their schedule after school. The only other homework they get is when I let them take things home to finish. Then if they complain about being up until 2 in the morning for my class I let them know they need to work on their time management skills then because I have them plenty of time to figure out where to best fit in completing the assignment. If there is not great purpose in an assignment though it's not going home.

A little homework is good for teaching responsibility but the thinking that students have to have homework every night so making up something to just say they had homework has to go. So I'm not going to quit assigning homework altogether, but I am really not looking forward to after school homework with my own kids when they return to school on Tuesday.

Find other great homework memes on here

1 comment:

  1. Great post. My kids are in elementary and receive homework on a regular basis, and I agree with it. Now their homework isn't anything crazy and takes 30 minutes at most. Like you, I feel like homework teaches responsibility. I believe it helps them to enhance what they learned during the school day by repetition, which I think is important for learning, especially for elementary aged students. I feel like no homework is like participation ribbons for everyone...