Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Homework: Complain, complain, complain...

If we give out homework, we hear complaints. If we never give out homework, we still hear complaints. Famous phrases we hear are – it’s too long, it’s too difficult, I don’t understand it, it’s too easy, it’s too short, I feel like I’m wasting my time.

There has been much debate about homework. Some Boards and schools have homework policies in relation to learning and achievement. This then raises more questions about homework practices and implementation.

So what is homework? According to Google dictionary:
home•work noun /ˈhōmˌwərk/ 
1. Schoolwork that a student is required to do at home

2. Work or study done in preparation for a certain event or situation
he had evidently done his homework and read his predecessor's reports

3. Paid work carried out in one's own home, esp. low-paid piecework

Let me add that homework is practice, reinforcement or application of new skills and knowledge, and to learn new skills of independent study (NREL). Let’s explore the purpose of homework…

1. Provide students with additional practice of newly taught skills and
knowledge. Beware that if students learn new skills or knowledge
independently and inaccurately, unlearning new information can be difficult.
2. Increase the amount of time students are actively engaged in learning.
Homework can help students increase their skills and acquire deeper
3. Helps teachers monitor student progress and diagnose learning problems. It
may give you valuable information that you need to have to make appropriate
adjustments to nurture student learning.
4. Allows students to move through the curriculum more rapidly. Without
homework, students may lose interest.
5. Increases communication between the parents and the school. Without
homework, parents may not have any idea what their child is learning in
6. Increases student responsibility and individual accountability for their
own work. Our task is to help students acquire the habits that will
facilitate their success the rest of their lives.

If handled appropriately, homework can have a positive impact on achievement. To do so we must assign the right amount for the grade level, be clear and have a purpose, and never be “busy work” or a “punishment”. Finally, not all our students have the same resources at home including involved parents, computer, routines and so forth. Ideally homework should be substantial and positive toward student achievement. Maybe then the complaints will begin to dwindle.

What’s your story?

photo istock

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