Monday, September 24, 2012

How Necessary Is Homework? Join the Conversation

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John Spencer has started a conversation around homework on his blog Education Rethink.  He has written a post titled A Week Without Homework Challenge  where he is asking educators and parents to rethink the assigning of homework for one week.  He has also started an open Facebook Page where parents and teachers can have a running dialogue on this topic.

Here's an excerpt from his post:
I've written before about my belief that homework is far more destructive than constructive. I don't think it increases learning, adds to motivation or develops a strong work ethic. For a long time, I assigned homework out of a sense that I was "supposed to." I never questioned it as a practice. After getting rid of it, I remained quiet on the topic. After watching my sons lose necessary playtime and learning time to do extra-duty schoolwork (mostly packets), I grew more vocal.
I have to say after watching my own kids do homework during the first few weeks of school I share John's sentiments. As I watched my 7th grade daughter try over and over to get all of the countries in Europe plugged into the right spots on an interactive map and a achieve a success rate of 85-percent, my frustration continued to grow.  It was past her bedtime as she tried to achieve the success rate her teacher had required for the sixth or seventh time.

As I sat watching her grow more frustrated with her assignment, I was sure that I would be equally unsuccessful had I been asked to complete the same task. Despite my success as a student at the high school and college level and the attainment of an advanced degree, I feel like my inability to recall the exact location of each of the countries in Europe has not had a negative impact on me.  Therefore, I am left to wonder what my daughter could have been doing with this timeframe of more than an hour that would have been a more meaningful learning experience.  The possibilities are certainly endless...

We have had very limited conversations about this topic in Burlington since the showing of Race to Nowhere last year.  In fact the Race to Nowhere team has written a letter for the National PTA asking the group to challenge schools to rethink the assigning of homework.  I know this is an issue that needs to be discussed more in the district where my children go to school and I think it would be beneficial to have a similar discussion here.

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