Homework Rules

by beagooddad on October 5, 2006

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I found a link from this blog pointing to this post called Why Do We Still Get Homework? over at RhinoTimes.com.

Interesting read that says a lot of things I believed as a kid and still mostly believe. I especially like the Homework Rules section that they think should be the goal of every school. I like the idea lifted from Kohn’s “The Homework Myth”:

The default condition should be NO homework.

There will be times when kids need to do things at home, like interview their dad for their report entitled The Coolest Person In The World, but there should always be a reason why that assignment cannot be handled in class. I’m not buying the there’s not enough time for kids to learn everything in school argument. When I was in school, we had recess every day and another class that rotated between art, music, gym, etc. that was every day. Two sessions of every day dedicated to having some fun. And we seemed to learn quite a bit and didn’t have hardly any homework through grade school. If school’s are giving up on recess and other “fun” classes, there should be plenty of time for the core curriculum.
There is so much stuff in that whole article, but here are a couple thoughts that stand out.

  • School is a job for kids. I don’t take work home with me. Ever. Almost nobody that I know takes work home with them. And when the situation arises where we have to work late or on the weekend or, god forbid, work on a project at home, we complain. If it happens often enough, we start looking for a new job. Yet, we accept a system that demands that kids spend all day in the classroom working and then more hours at home doing extra work for their job. And when was the last time they were not doing work over the weekend, holiday, and vacation.
  • Parents are teachers but we have our own curriculum. There should be no homework that ever requires the parents to teach the kids how to do anything. I’m not excusing parents from educating their kids. But, us parents have our own responsibilities. It is my job to teach the kids how to fold their clothes, take a bath, walk safely to their friend’s house, and how to properly use the internet. I am not certified to teach my kids English, History, Science, or Math. That is why I pay to send them to school. I do not have a problem working with kids on assignments from time to time to bond with them, but I should not ever have to explain how to do what they are doing. Maybe I won’t know the answer. Maybe I’ll teach them the wrong way. I’ve already been warned by my mother-in-law, an excellent grade school teacher – now retired, that when we teach the kids to spell their name, we need to make sure we capitalize the first letter and none of the others. It seems that learning upper and lower case letters together is the way to go. I bet she learned that as part of job training that I’ve never had.
  • 5 + 5 = 10 no matter how many times we do it. I used to get in trouble in school because I would do enough homework drills to understand what was going on and no more. Once I learned how to work with the quadratic equation, I stopped doing more homework problems where the point was to work that equation again. I always had bad homework scores, but always tested extremely high and ended up getting good grades all through school. Any homework that is assigned should be designed to reenforce the lesson. If the student understands the lesson, then they should be able to stop at five problems instead of the 30 that were given for homework.

There is also some good advice about how to approach the teacher and school if you have issues with the amount of homework your child has. Definitely a good read before you head to school ready to yell at the teacher.

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