Day 163 (of 186) my QuickTake on homework for Sunday’s #bcedchat on this topic
The post prompt is “Homework: the good the bad the ugly” and my favourite connection is that the main character in the Clint Eastwood western classic of the same name is “the man with no name” – and how often is work (and especially homework) turned in without a name?!?!
I am not a fan of homework. Neither as a learner not as an educator. And I like that educators like @alicekeeler have time to dig deeper to see that the affect size is actually not that significant – about 2-3% which is only significant to people like my oldest who wants to show her teachers that she knows all 100% of the material to win at the “game of school”. An example from her: http://www.alicekeeler.com/2015/07/13/stop-giving-homework/
What I do like is when kids ask if they can take work home to do more/better. It indicates that there is a connection to the work that makes it meaningful and relevant. And one of my boys who doesn’t do all the output tasks asked of him goes deeper into topics that I struggle to keep up with! Fortunately we have Twitter that key Commander Hadfield answer something that I could not. And eve my kid at home is inspired by the iPad Pro commercial and its revisionary look at the classic homework rant from A Christmas Story: https://youtu.be/IprmiOa2zH8 because learning (and the attached working outside the classroom) can be fun….
The bad is when homework further delineates the haves from the have-nots. My kids at home are fortunate. They don’t have a lot of chores. We go for walks and go to soccer and even get “real jobs” at times. They do not have the pressures of many others to look after the house, to look after siblings, to deal with a long commute (and I hate when buskids are docked marks for neatness because the only time they had to do assigned tasks was during the 10% of the day that they are in-transit)” – focus on the content rather than the font!
It’s sometimes ugly when I see how much time my grade 12 girl spends on her work. But it’s because she wants to:
a) show her understanding of what her teachers want from her – and gets anxious when her average drops two far below 💯 (the two was spelled on purpose because she had to explain to her music teacher that she might not have been able to take jazz band because the 98 was dragging her % down…)
b) she’s an intrinsic learner – she wants to learn things completely and fully (partly why she took geology so that she would have every science class and because she wanted (and got) Systems Engineering and felt knowing how geology worked could be beneficial….
And it’s her choice. I have told her I would write a note “excusing or explaining why work wouldn’t be on-time but she would prefer sacrificing sleep to work.
And she’s old enough to make these choices. Her doing an overload schedule plus working at Starbucks makes me think Engineering at Waterloo won’t be as big an adjustment as it is for many…
But again, we have created the conditions for this learning – my youngest daughter has started to admit she isn’t enjoying math as much as she used to because “we just do the same question 20 times!” she wants her right to be used to make her brain be complex, not rigor to fight the boredom of repetition (which is carryover from our industrial revolution/assembly plant mindset)
Our use of homework needs to be mindful. Do some kids need more time to memorize sitewords to make reading easier? Sure – but spelling is to language arts what the times tables is to numeracy: useful when memorized but the whole enchilada of that subject – more time on strategies and synthesis help learners make connections and create a love for learning that will then encouraged that expansion beyond the brick and mortar building – and when students own their learning – it goes much better than assigning work at home and hoping that parents like me won’t offer to do it instead of their kids – cause I’ve offered! (But my girls were worried I wouldn’t do as well as them….)
But homework to teach rigor and responsibility and work ethic?
Taught me and my friends (and the kids I see before the bell) how to lie cheat and steal to ensure work is done as a reason of compliance – and we need to be teaching and learning more than just “because”…..