Monday, October 7, 2013

Homework -- Where do you stand?

I've been thinking about homework a lot lately, and not just because it takes my own kid an inordinate amount of time to do what should take him less than an hour.

A couple of interesting articles, both in The Atlantic, have crossed my path recently, and I thought I'd share them.  If nothing else, maybe they'll get you thinking about how you feel about homework, and whether your ideal matches what you have found to be practical for the classes you teach.

The first one I read is My Daughter's Homework Is Killing Me.  A father shares about his experiencing doing all the same homework as his eighth grade daughter.  I have to say, I enjoyed the article a lot, and I could sympathize, but I worry that some people may find his open use of marijuana off-putting and use it as an argument to discredit the rest of what he has written.  Overlooking that, if you need to, I'd love to hear how much his experience resounds with you.  Teachers who are also parents, have you had similar experiences?

The second article, Should I Stop Assigning Homework?, has an English teacher questioning whether she should -- or even CAN -- give up this ages-old tradition of our profession.  She references some other materials on the subject, including her own previous writing on this topic, and provides links to what she and others have said, as well as some research findings on the case for and against homework.

I would absolutely LOVE LOVE LOVE to get my colleagues to weigh in here with their thoughts.  This blog is also open to the entire Internet, and I would love to hear what my edtech peeps and others out there in the blogosphere have to say on the subject.


  1. I go back and forth. The thing about homework is that it has to be meaningful. It can't be drill and kill otherwise who cares!? Homework is about solidifying what students learned. I feel the best way do this is through projects and real world applications. There is only a place for homework if it's meaningful.

  2. For my class, the issue is kids staying on task. (Yes, they are chatting, answering emails, checking statuses, taking breaks with games).

    I don't believe in giving inordinate homework and all I require is a chapter every 2 - 3 days (a chapter of roughly 3 - 4 pages with lots of pictures). Most kids say they can read it in 5 - 10 minutes.

    Otherwise, in my classes most kids "homework" is due to kids not staying on task on "classwork," even though I am roaming the room, answering questions, watching what they are working on. Creative work does take some students longer, especially when they are fully engaged. Most of my kids finish classwork in class. However, 8 - 16 measures of music? Some become so engrossed in their music composition that they will spend hours on it at home because they are enjoying the process and trying new things. Some will end up showing me 5 - 8 pieces they wrote with different instrumentations, rhythms, mixing, loops, etc. I have to warn them that as fun as it is, they cannot neglect their other obligations.

    I do ask them to meet the basic requirements only and not use their "play time" with composition as an excuse to not do their other homework or blame it on the homework load, which it is not. It is them choosing to immerse themselves in an enjoyable activity.

  3. While some homework seems worthwhile (practicing foreign language or math), most seems like busywork. I told my second grade parents this at Back to School Night.

  4. I believe that we should eliminate homework. It will free up the students to spend time on their own passions. They grow to hate school, lose enjoyment of the learning itself, and they live with prolonged, unrelieved periods of stress which is physiologically toxic. If I can help guide them towards real understanding within class in a project-based, student-centered environment, their natural curiosity and intrinsic motivation to ask "why" and to find the answers will hopefully re-emerge. I'll keep everyone posted as I restructure my pedagogical approach towards this model.

  5. I think this is a complex issue, I appreciate the necessity for some repetition of skills (math practice) and the value in projects or encouraging reading, but I get fed up with the use of an over abundance of work just for the sake of work. Saying "do all the evens" seems like a cop out. The teacher should only be requesting that students engage in meaningful practice. Not merely copying spelling words 5 times each. Why not provide information about what a student will be expected to know, and then how they can ensurs they have that knowledge. The goal should be understanding.

  6. I teach 10th grade English and I have given up much of the homework. I sometimes ask students to finish things at home or to do some reading ahead of time, but for the most part I have worked to eliminate wasted class time, teach bell to bell and assignments can be finished in class. My son (3rd grade)'s school has admitted they give homework to train the kids to do homework, craziness, and I have supervised many hours of busywork that my son did not need nor learn anything from.

  7. Just to weigh in on this topic...Research has shown repeatedly that homework does nothing to improve test scores. My question would be: Why create more work for yourself as an educator that really is not helping students? As a former special education teacher, I did not assign homework. My only assignment was that my students read at least 30 mins per night. I did not care what they read as long as they read something. The students who did made tremendous gains. This didn't require any extra grading on my part or written assignments on their part.