Day 155 (of 186) an interesting conversation about homework
During our 30:30 outside time (30 minutes outdoors for 30 days) one of my students approached me with an interesting question….
“Mr. Landy….I’ve been wondering something” <– a question that always makes my ears perk up – and especially with this budding architect/engineer/astronaut
He was wondering about two connected thoughts: Do I think he learns better when given freedom and choice or when he is told what to do……the connection piece was also a curiosity about why I don’t send homework home while many of his friends and siblings do….
I happily shared that regarding homework, I don’t find the “pain” worth the “gain” – that is that assigned homework only tends to lead to a 2-3% “bump” because the kids that either “get it” or have supports at home tend to do well with it whereas (more) students without those supports or who get confused without guided support
a) struggle with it
b) frustrate themselves and their parents
c) see learning as something they “have to do” rather than “get to do” <– and mindsets matter.
It’s also why I do send stuff home, but it is more student-initiated; so its more “can I work on this at home” with a “YES!” response because ‘work at home’ is VERY different to me than homework. My graduating daughter does a lot of homework for two key reasons:
a) she likes to play the game of school and set “high scores” <– even if they don’t always challenge her to take risks as she would rather play it safe and get 100&% than take a risk and roll the dice on her perctage
b) she’s intrinsically motivated – she likes to learn – she loves digging deep into what has been shared/taught to her AND explore side tangents to see where they may lead her…(and this is my favourite part of education)
But I also see my youngest girl losing her love for math because of ongoing homework – she doesn’t like having to do multiple questions to prove again and again that she “gets” a concept – if she can do it once on an easy one and one on a “challenging question” she figures she should be done – and I find it hard to disagree – but then again I like having my own students solve one question multiple ways than using one way to solve multiple questions.
I also know that kiddos are under a lot of pressure and that quite often we do a LOT of thinking at school – and I believe “down time” has great value – especially as my thinker shared that indeed he does do a LOT of his thinking late at night – and there is a reason why great ideas often strike late at night….or in the shower…..or while driving – the brain needs time to process what has been exposed to it – because even when learners make mistakes in their school work, the brain is often aware of the mistake (even if they right synapses aren’t firing to fix things right away). So providing “time” is an important component to lifelong learning – “we” don’t need to fill up kids lives with more and more work when they really need opportunities to be bored….to have “nothing to do” because more and more often there isn’t much “free time” in anybody’s lives. As I tease my kids at home and at school when they say “I’m bored” ….. “Man, you’re so lucky! I wish I had time to be bored! Enjoy it while you can!!”
And I love giving that “processing time – so I am better at providing themes for the brain to think about; for instance with my thinker – when we did a Cardboard Arcade, he thrived as he created three sample projects (part of our Design Thinking plan) that he got input from via his peers to finally decide on creating a cardboard Dance Dance Revolution game/machine. He did very well with a concept (Project Based Learning) being shared to him but letting him have some independence along the way. I also know that some students need more structure – which is why we also “scaffold” and promote research (aka looking over other peoples shoulders and stealing ideas) – some students get more direct encouragement than others because we are all on personalized learning journeys and as a learning community, we can be flexible.
So can learning be “taken home to work on some more”? Absolutely! Am I going to insist on it? Only in very rare instances. But we should still work on reading, writing and numeracy for extra practice – but read for pleasure. Write reflections…or goals…or wishes (but change it up – don’t do the same writing every day <– I say hypocritically as I blog “each day of learning”….
And my favourite part: asking questions about the “WHY” connected to learning.
My least favourite part: that it was brought up because he is worried what his learning environment might look like (or NOT look like) next year…..