As the movement against excessive homework continues to grow, some parents say they’re drawing a line in the sand between home and school. Schools, in turn, are starting to rethink the role of homework and how it should be assigned.
If homework serves simply as busy work — proof that kids are “learning,” then that time is wasted, some say. Parents are sensitive to pressures on their children and want them to have down time when they get home from seven hours in school. If the work isn’t stimulating, then why do it?
“I just think that schools need to be a little more thoughtful about their policies for homework and work with the teachers to make sure that whatever homework that they do assign are rich, valuable experiences for the kids, and will actually be corrected,” said Jolene Ivey, mother of five boys in a discussion on NPR’s Tell Me More.
“The teachers have my kids for seven hours a day and when my kids get home I like for them to be able to do something else.”
“We’re teaching to the test, so a lot of the instruction that should be going on in the school environment is not there,” said Stephen Jones, an educator and a father. “Giving homework gives them an additional opportunity to give them work.” He doesn’t necessarily think that’s the worst thing, but he said homework should allow different learning styles to flourish so that it’s both more motivating and more fun for kids when they are at home. Continue reading
Flickr: Anna Gutermuth
Parents’ directive to kids to “go do your homework” may soon be a thing of the past. School districts across the country, from New Jersey to Wyoming to California are banning homework — or at least shortening the allotted time to make it more “meaningful and manageable.”
Simply put, the anti-homework camp points out the added stress and hours of rote drill work have not raised achievement levels, especially in elementary grades, according to the New York Times. Those who favor homework say important skills, whether they’re rote or involve critical thinking, need to be practiced and honed.
Some schools are swapping homework for “goal work,” tailored to each student’s progress, to be done at home or at class, as they’re doing in Mango Elementary School in Fontana, Calif., while others, like Pleasanton, are cutting homework time back by half and prohibiting any assignments handed out on weekends, the Times article states.
“Homework is messing up the balance of kids’ lives in terms of having downtime and playtime and family time,” said Cathy Vatterott, associate professor of education at the University of Missouri-St. Louis and the author of Rethinking Homework: Best Practices that Support Diverse Needs in a Reuters article.
This philosophical argument against overworked students is one perspective. But there’s also a logistical argument to be made on behalf of low-income students, who may not have either the time or the physical space to complete homework assignments, putting them at even a greater disadvantage in the achievement gap. Many low-income students have to work to help support the family, don’t have support at home because of working parents, or are confined to cramped living quarters and simply can’t find the space to do homework. Continue reading