Doing something for no better reason than "that's how it's always been done" makes no better sense than changing something, "just because we can" on some whim or because new technology becomes available. Each thing must be analyzed on a case-by-case basis. I am reminded of the story of a young bride, cooking a roast. She cut off the end before putting it in the pan, and her husband inquired why she had done so.
Grandma was still living, so they contacted her. The reply? Great hub, DzyMsLizzy! I am a teacher, and my wife could tell you that I have complained about the time and needless frustration wasted on assigning homework. Do you know that many schools require teachers to assign homework, and that parents have been known to become angry at LACK of homework? Thank you very much for your input and for your understanding of the article for what it is. I appreciate your common sense in realizing that this is, indeed, my opinion, albeit a very strongly held opinion , and no one is forced to agree.
Thanks, also for your praise and for the support about the hard-liners' manner in expressing their opinions. I'm pleased you found it well presented, and am grateful for all the votes. Thanks very much. I think you did a great job presenting your opinion. I think I would agree with you but have to give this another read as well! This is your opinion, and they are just offering theirs against yours and can do so in a better manner.
Nevertheless, great presentation of your points and I admire you for sharing this! Great job, voted up useful, awesome, and interesting! Allow me to educate you about your misperceptions. Frist of all, a parent IS a teacher--their child's first teacher before they ever set foot in a formal school setting.
Thirdly, I have taught children during extra-curricular activities, and I do understand how children learn. And they do NOT learn if they are bored and frustrated, but learn very easily if the lesson is made enjoyable. Also, my husband IS a credentialed teacher, with multiple degrees including a Master's in Social Science, and he agrees with my position. Your argument about "undermining" and "leaving to the experts" is laughable and a straw-man defense.
There are so many self-styled "experts" out there as to make the term meaningless. I have come across more than a handful of "credentialed teachers," the supposed 'experts' who did not belong anywhere near a classroom full of children because they simply did not possess the temperament for the job.
My father, who had only an eighth-grade education was far smarter than many college graduates. He worked for a San Francisco bus company, and was most outraged that they sent to New York for "experts" to solve some issues. Just because someone has a piece of paper stating that they have completed some prescribed course of study does not necessarily qualify them as an 'expert. I appreciate your time in voicing your opinion and adding to the discussion, but, as you stated about my article, your position, too is but opinion, and everyone is entitled to their own.
Given that this country still maintains some semblance of freedom of speech, we all have the right to voice those opinions, and are NOT required to keep them to ourselves. I reserve that right, and continue to disagree vehemently with your statements. Once again, a non-educator is writing an article about a subject on which she only has cursory knowledge.
Just because you went to school, have children who went to school, and have grandchildren who went to school, doesn't mean you are an expert on teaching. I would not write an article about a point of law or type of medical procedure because I have no training in either of those professions.
Nor would I write an article about some aspect of chemical or civil engineering because I am not an engineer. For some reason, non-educators, feel they are qualified to talk about education and make decisions about education and try to influence the profession of education when they have no training as educators and yet would not attempt to do the same things with any other profession. You have a right to an opinion, but that opinion only hurts and undermines the work of thousands of professional teachers when you write in the name of education.
Maybe your overall discipline is better "across the pond. My observations are based not only upon my own unfortunate experiences, but also upon those of my own children, and my frustrations in attempting to help them deal with their homework.
I also worked in the schools as a volunteer teacher's aide for a few years, both at the elementary and high school level, so I was in a position to witness the problem across a wide range of students. Testing proves nothing but the ability to temporarily memorize facts long enough to get by the test. AT this point in my life, I doubt I would still pass the high-school annual tests I was given, because the questions thereon were not relevant to life experience. That information is long since tossed into my mental circular file.
You assess a student's progress by observation. Yes, that's part of a teacher's job, and yes, it takes more effort than handing out a booklet to be machine-scored at some off-site facility. Here in the USA, those are the kinds of tests that are used to "assess" progress and competence. I'm not talking about end-of-chapter or module, as you refer tests, given in class and graded by the teacher.
You are quite correct that we will probably never convince each other of our respective positions, so we will agree to disagree. I thank you for your well-put points and contribution to the discussion. How else do you suggest we assess the knowledge gained through education without testing? There has been a huge amount of research done into the effectiveness of homework.
Children need an opportunity to convert the knowledge to their long term memory, homework making up a substantial part of this, along with revision. Test scores in the UK have been rising for years this being used as proof that the exams are getting easier. Homework is a vital constituent of the curriculum. Over the 5 years of secondary school, those who do not complete their homework miss out on an entire year's worth of education.
If I had a choice, I would not set homework. Marking it is a pain and extremely time consuming. BTW, current research states that homework MUST be clearly marked to show it's worth to a child, but should not just give a number or percentage, but instead give a formative comment.
However, I know that homework improves the attainment and progress of my pupils. Even my bottom sets are eager to complete my homework - and I work in a challenging inner city school. I know I won't convince you - bad experiences as a child permanently colour the attitude of a person.
As I said, you have made a series well argued points, and I respect your position TFScientist--You have exactly made one of my points by your emphasis on "end of module tests and formative assessments. I feel THAT is one of the biggest problems with our school system: teaching to a test. In this scenario, more emphasis is placed on competition between schools and getting the best test scores--but are the students truly learning useful life skills and information they will need?
It does not seem so, given the continually falling qualilty of high school graduates who cannot read at grade level, for one thing. Back when I was in school, newspapers were said to have been written for a 10th grade reading level. I believe they are now written for a reading level somewhere between 5th and 8th grade. If you don't believe me, just watch one of Jay Leno's "Man on the Street" segments some night. He asks "general knowledge" questions of random usually young people.
The answers he gets, or the dumbstruck looks, are truly scary. It is a sad commentary on our schools, test scores notwithstanding--they are truly irrlelevant and highly misleading. I agree one hundred percent. Kids need time to just be kids, and forget about schoolwork. With the busy schedules families have these days, and the current homework burden, there is insufficient time left for them to "just be kids. Robert Erich--Thank you very much for your contribution.
As for the study hall problem, there IS a simple solution: it's called "discipline. Here's how I believe that should be handled: When the kids walk in the door, the teacher is at the door with a basket, into which must be deposited ALL cell phones, Game Boys, or what have you that can cause all those distractions. NO talking. Desks should be spaced sufficiently to discourage passing of notes.
At that point, there is really nothing left for the kids to do BUT the work they are supposed to be doing! We definitely need to step back in time to stricter standards of discipline, and stop being afraid to keep unruly kids in check. As a teacher I have to disagree.
I ran an experiment during my training where I gave one group homework and the parallel group no homework. Even after factoring out differences, the group with homework scored statistically much higher on end of module tests and formative assessments.
It links into how we transfer information from short term to long term memory - you need to secure knowledge after the lesson, before your following week's lesson. DzyMsLizzy, you have so many important points here in this article. Alfie Kohen has written on this subject and I agree with the assumption that school work should be done at school. When kids come home they should be allowed to wind down, get outside, and enjoy being a kid!
Voted up and Shared! Take care, Kelley. Hi Lizzy, this is a very interesting article and I am sure that kids everywhere are cheering you on! I agree and disagree. I strongly believe that our educational system needs to be revamped. However, I have worked in several high schools for a short period of time and know that many students are given time in class to do their homework but don't do it! Class time and study halls in school are usually used for socializing and playing with classmates.
Honestly, I believe that the best learning can get done at home, away from the distractions of friends. Of course, as you mentioned, few parents have time. I'm not sure what the solution is yet, but we definitely need one! You are so right about everything.
Kids have so many after school activities and than they have to do homework. It's to much and as for as I'm concerned the teachers are there to teach and that's what they should do in class. First, let me say that you do not sound the least bit dumb or impaired. You sound like a very serious, intelligent student who is very well-spoken. You know how to think for yourself, and and have communicated your thoughts and ideas very well. The fact that you are aware that there are serious problems within our educational system is a great start.
Awareness is the beginning of change. You asked for more of my articles on related matters. It is mainly about how the expectations keep getting lowered to cater not to those like yourself, who may struggle, but to hand out diplomas to those who will not even make an effort, and how the teachers are kept from truly educating their students because they are busy "teaching to a test.
One of the main problems with our public educational system is that TPTB The Powers That Be have a vested interest in getting everyone to conform to the same standard. Individuality and creative thinking are actively discouraged those darned tests, again. Fit the mold. Don't speak out. There is no allowance for those who learn differently. Not everyone wants to, or is able to sit and read; not everyone can interpret what they hear and take good notes.
It is a very complex problem but it is not an impossible one to solve. In fact, you have inspired me to take these thoughts into an entire new article. Never give up. You could be the focus for change. Spread the word at school--get others involved. Talk honestly but politely to your teachers, the principal, your counselor and your parents. By pointing out everything you have said here, you may be able to at least gain some concessions for yourself and others in your situation.
I'm 16 by the way. Thanks very much for your input. I agree--not all after-school programs are homework-focused; many are just babysitting and entertainment. What about the kids who are in after school programs due to working parents? They get home after , eat, then have to do homework? An elementary aged child getting to bed at ? There's nothing wrong with going over areas they're weak in, or actually learning to apply lessons learned in everyday life; that's "functional" homework.
But, geez, let's let our kids BE kids! It was you who said it was an "unfair" comparison. I disagree. Well, I was an only child, and my mother did the best she could, rest her patient soul. My father taught me many things, but did not get involved in homework, as he had only an 8th grade education himself.
Yet, he was self-taught, well-read and educated and also possessed far more common sense than many college graduates. Your comment about "underserved" communities is well put. There are A LOT of those in this nation. Since the government constantly sees fit to balance the budget on the backs of the poor and at the expense of education with their continual cuts to funding, school has become little more than a babysitting service.
Private schools, charter schools, and whatever "KIPP" is, are not options for the majority. As far as majority being right, no, it is not always right, and I admit my majority is but within this venue, and I've undertaken no formal survey I challenge you to put your theories to such a successful outcome in an underfunded, inner-city school whose students come from broken and abusive families. Talk to the single mother working two jobs with an absentee father sending no child support money, struggling desperately to balance everything, how much time or energy she has to help her kids with homework.
Then talk to me about how much homework "helps. I saw even more evidence of broken families when my own kids were in school. As a fellow Californian, I'm sure you're aware of the painful slippage of our state's educational ranking from near the top to next to the bottom. I believe that the issue there is far larger than any argument over homework. And with that, I leave it. I will not continue a pointless discussion in which neither of us is going to change the other's mind.
I was merely pointing out that some homework hours does not kill their fun and time away from family. I think reading a good book or doing some multiplication tables is really helpful for children. No, there was no personal attack on you. Giving them the answers helps them self-regulate.
I grade them for the process and the work, not their answers. This method has been successful, as my students scored four times the district average, and earned over a million dollars in scholarships. Sometimes, teaching requires sacrifice. Obviously, the parent or an older sibling would be there to help and assist.
Unfortunately, I've discovered that in underserved communities, they are often lacking a stable home structure. That's why whole entire schools like KIPP allow children to call before 8m if they have questions on homework. I don't care if most people are in agreement with you. Majority doesn't equate to accuracy, as was demonstrated by the Civil Rights Movement in which the minority resoundingly went against the status quo at that time and created positive change.
Again, I must point out we are comparing kids against adults, who have willingly chosen their professions along with any extra hours of work those jobs may entail. Children are not given any such option. As far as your inference that "someone" you obviously meant me , did not do their homework--I most certainly did do mine--as a child, I was "terrified" of getting into trouble. That said, it is my own frustrating experiences WITH those homework assignments that led me to my current position on the matter: that, and my further experiences in frustration while having the same battles over homework with my own kids that my mother had with me.
Then it repeated again as I watched my elder daughter fight the battles all over again with her kids, and now my younger daughter is in the same fight. It does nothing to "help" and everything to create disharmony in more families than not. I've seen it in plenty of friends' families as well. You suggest "giving them an answer key.
If they don't understand, what good is copying the answer? What of the assignments that demand, "show your work? Give them your phone number? If you are that teacher, do you want YOUR evening and "down time" interrupted by umpteen phone calls a night to explain something you thought you covered during the school day?
If you've read the rest of the comments, you'll notice not many are from kids, and the majority are in agreement with me. I'm sorry you feel as you do, but unfortunately, I maintain my position, and we must continue to 'agree to disagree. That is such an unfair argument. Most people work a 9am-5pm job. People like lawyers and doctors probably work much more. Students in traditional public school go to school from am - pm.
You try to spin the argument to make it look like they're just overburdened with work and that their schedule is dominated by all school and no family or fun activities. Nothing could be further from the truth. Assuming a child sleeps at 11pm, they have 8. I think that's more than enough to get them to do some reading and to have them do some homework. How else do you explain students that are in high school and don't know how to do their multiplication tables?
Obviously, someone wasn't doing their homework and it's significantly hurting them. Also, just because it doesn't work for some students, you can't apply that argument to the whole population. Last, I think you have to look at why it doesn't work and try to fix it there? I offered some suggestions. If it's because they're doing it incorrectly and it's poor practice, maybe it's that you give them an answer key.
If it's because they're not understanding it even with an answer key, maybe you give them a phone number or an email. Some textbook companies even have accompanying videos that the kids can go online and watch when they get stuck on a problem.
I just think that the times have really changed with technology, and the help that a kid can get access to these days is probably vastly different than what was available to you when you were in school. Thanks for stopping by. I think we'll have to just leave it at "agree to disagree. I still think it is just wrong-minded to have kids continue to have to do schoolwork once school is over. The bank teller doesn't bring his work home when the workday is done; the electrician doesn't bring his work home after working hours; and so forth.
The few professions whose employees end up bringing work home--that's different. Those are adults, and they knew what they signed up for when they entered that profession. While I think your points are valid, I think there are ways around the problem. For example let's think outside the box. What about giving kids the answers to the homework? What about giving them your phone number? What about maybe posting worked-out solutions online that they can study after the due date of the assignment?
I did homework throughout school, and it definitely helped me. Your question is a perfect example of why I am against homework on principle. It causes frustration for everyone involved. You could approach the problem from a real-world standpoint by baking a pie and inviting 4 of your granddaughter's friends to share, take pictures, and inform the teacher that you figured it out by practical application.
These days, that would be exactly my approach. However, it would probably not be acceptable at school. Since math was and still is my weakest subject, I cannot help you with this matter, but there are plenty of homework help sites online. I am rying to help my 10 year old granddaughter with a math problem. She is in 4th grade. I don't just want the answer. I would also like to see how the answer was arrived at. This way, I can take that as an example and then, no matter what similar math problem she gets, she will have the ammunition behind her to figure it out.
Can you help me with this? Thank you for stopping by and leaving a comment. Perhaps you can print out the article, along with the comments, and you can show your science teacher that many adults are in agreement with you. There may be times when it is necessary to look something up, or study refresher material for a test, but to assign homework each and every day just for the purpose of doing so, I still belive is a waste of time for the reasons I've already stated in the article.
It's a pain forcing yourself to agree on something that you don't agree with. Thanks very much for adding to the discussion. I do think you are correct that there is a deficit of challenging curricula for the more advanced students. Here in California, I'm certain that our state's budget fiascoes have probably long since resulted in the elimination of the G.
Gifted and Talented Education program. It is shameful that our legislators think it is acceptable to balance the books at the expense of education instead of cutting their own salaries and assorted perks. I still think homeowrk is too focused on being 'busy work' these days, especially with all the errant focus of "teaching to a test. Some level of homework in high school, as college approaches, yes, might be worthwhile, to accustom students to learning to find information on their own.
But in elementary and junior high middle school? Absolutely not. I cringe when I see young kids with such heavy loads of books that they need a wheeled backpack to carry them back and forth. I'm not sure I agree that homework should be completely eliminated but I do think that kids today-even more than in my generation-are being made to take on heavier than necessary loads, they've unfortunately cut down on recesses and I do agree that making kids do homework as early as Kindergarten is beyond ridiculous.
I am convinced-and even saw during my own generation-that there are many loopholes in education that definitely need to be corrected. Also, from the opposite spectrum from those with mental and learning disabilities, did you also know that we're losing many of our intellectually gifted children due to the fact that there are not enough outlets and programs to challenge them?
I'm more on the talented side myself though my father is gifted, has been a school psychologist twice and even helped establish a gifted program at one time but I can only imagine what they go through being bored in school all day and then having to take home and do homework that's too easy for them. Thanks for your quick return.
Yes, my mum taught me about the different types of learning. My brother is 18 and he's going to Japan to teach English. He is helping me learn too. Best wishes for world peace. Thank you very much for your well-thought-out comment, and for sharing your experiences. I agree that children should not be forced to sit in uncomfortable positions for long periods.
You cannot learn if you are uncomfortable, or worse, in pain. For 14, you are, indeed, very well spoken, and I am impressed that you were able to properly use the word "kinesthetic," because most kids your age would have no clue to the definition, let alone the spelling. I also appreciate and support your point, there, because it is so true that not everyone learns in the same way, and formal schooling attempts to fit all the pegs into the same shaped holes. As for my grandson, he is already 18, and pretty much a school dropout.
He will have to learn the rest of life's lessons the hard way at this point. Thank you again for stopping by and adding your experiences to the discussion. Much appreciated. I am 14 and home-schooled, and I agree with everything on your article. I got taken out of school when I was about , because I was being severely bullied. But I believe it has had a greater impact on my learning. Being more of a kinesthetic learner myself, I learn best by doing things practically, rather than sitting down writing stuff down on a sheet of paper.
I do not like sitting down for too long at a time, as it hurts my legs and, in minor cases, do damage to our spines. Once we were sitting in a circle this was in Primary school. Btw I'm English and my legs were aching from sitting in the same position for a long period of time, and I moved, and the teacher told me to cross my legs again.
I just flatly refused - no child should ever have to be in a position that is uncomfortable for them. Another thing about homework is that everybody is different - everybody has a different way of learning. I never did my homework. I thought, "why should I be doing this? I've already spent half the day at school so why should I be doing this? We all have our weaknesses and difficulties, and they need to be taken into account if the tasks are to be performed and carried out effectively.
English is my strong point, people believe I have very good grammar and spelling skills for a 14 year old, and I use that to help other people spell. However, mathematical skills are my weak point. I find maths difficult and find that I am not able to focus and concentrate on maths for long periods of time. However, I have made maths fun for myself. I have a game where you can buy and sell things at the shop, it is a Sonic game.
Well I bought and sold loads of different stuff, and worked out the answers before viewing the leftover amount. And I learnt a lot from doing this exercise and my parents were proud. I am also learning Japanese - all because I wanted to! I was not made or forced to learn it, I learned it because I am fascinated with Japanese culture and hope to go there one day. Learning can be fun, but children have to be motivated, in order to learn. I have also been diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome, through no fault of my own.
I believe this is not the case, in fact, I resent it. I do not like being referred to as "disabled" or having "problems", or "different" or even "special". The reason is that everyone has problems, everyone is different and everyone is special and unique in their own way. Not just because they have a certain "disability" or disorder. School is like a prison. Thanks again for your article. I think your son should succeed with his future plans if he keeps working hard at that which he aims - you can reach the goals that you have set, no matter what.
I am doing a persuasive piece at school and this really helped me find a good argument i could work on. It has many details and is very strong. My mother and I just finished having the whole homework argument. Thank you so much for posting this. It's really awesome and I totally agree; learning can and should be fun!
Homework being optional, also a great idea, instead of the current standard of having it play heavily into the child's grade. Children generally have short attention spans, and having to sit and do homework after they've had to sit through the same material all day at school is a recipe for resentment and frustration.
I've known a good number of kids who earned poor grades as a direct result of not wanting to do homework, in spite of their full grasp of the subject. And yes, with a large percentage of families today having both parents working, that time for them to spend chaperoning homework assignments is in short supply, and the burden is on the parent as well as the child. There are more important things the parents need to do, such as run the household, see to shopping for food, kid's clothing and school supplies, go to work themselves and spend quality FUN time with the children.
It's no wonder tempers flare. Learning should be fun, whether it happens at home or in the school. Learning should not be thought of as happening only in the 5 - 6 hours at school, but right through most of the things a child does. When learning is not integrated with real everyday life, it becomes something compartmentalized into a six hour a day 'sentence' in school, which would naturally be detested by most free spirits.
I think the problem lies not so much in the home-work part of it as in the 'enforcement' of dull or repetitive work. If it can be made fun, made into something that is interesting for the child - it would not be resented. Homework for children would involve their parents time, hence it should be in the natural of optional projects for children which can be done to the extent the parents are able to find the time.
Learning should be FUN--when you are having fun, you learn and retain more, and you have more mental energy and emotional stamina to deal with the tougher areas. As the old saying goes, "If I had it all to do again, knowing what I know now I totally agree with you. I homeschool. Many people say to me that they couldn't homeschool, but I'm convinced it's less stressful than dealing with schools as I am working on my own agenda and my own timetable.
If my child is having a bad day we stop schoolwork and restart the next day, so my child learns how to do a lot of work when they are feeling good and to take a break when they aren't. And isn't that one of life's great lessons? Thanks so much for your insight. I have not read the book you mention--I will be sure to look it up. There are so many assumptions about homework that are false but we don't ever stop to question them.
As a high school teacher I have rarely assigned homework in the past several years. I assume my students will read at home and occasionally I will ask them to work on finishing an essay, etc. But very rarely. We have them at school for 7. Thank you so much for that valuable insight. Your experience underlines the point that the entire concept is flawed. Furthermore, as you point out it seems to be about government influence and interference.
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