Monday, February 13, 2012

Comments on "I Hate Homework. I Assign It Anyway."

Some of the comments to "I Hate Homework. I Assign It Anyway" were terrific. Here's a few that I especially liked:

Uly, NY

Of course your students said they need homework. This is what they've been told every day since they were very small, by their parents and every one of their teachers. They believe it, but their belief is no evidence.

(And that's assuming that they answered honestly instead of trying to give the answer they thought you wanted to hear!)

Why not make homework optional, saying it's for those kids who think they need extra practice OR who have failed a pre-test on the subject (and who therefore have PROVEN they need the extra practice!)?

Scott B., Claremont, CA

Lahey thinks she's sealed the case for homework by asking her students, but she makes a basic error of research in so claiming. These students have been doing homework all their lives. For them to pronounce all those hours worthless would induce cognitive dissonance, so any research psychologist would predict that they would rationalize their answer to validate their behavior. There may be a good reason to assign some homework, but the opinion of students forced to do it cannot count as one of them.

Cheryl, Houston

Do you have students in schools now? It really has changed. My daughter in freshman year in high school was learning biology concepts that my husband, who has a phD in biochemistry, didn't learn until he was a graduate student. My dad, in his 80s, didn't take algebra until college, I took it in high school, my kids take it in middle school. The process may have started when you were in school but it has continued -- and the pendulum has, in my opinion, swung too far the other way.

As for homework amounts--

My husband, now a doctor, works monster hours, 14 hours a day is the norm, to the point where I worry about his health. However, my kids leave the house at the same time he does, but when he gets home, at 9 or 10 o'clock, the kids (ages 16 and 13) are still working ... on their homework. School till 4, sports practice till 5:30. They rush through dinner and showers, tackle the 3 hours of homework their schools pride themselves on assigning every night, and then, if they're to get anywhere near enough sleep, it's off to bed. It is not uncommon for them to fall asleep over their books -- or to break down in tears.

Unlike you at their ages, they have NO free time. I am alarmed to see my kids -- who are still children-- associate learning with feeling overwhelmed and exhausted, with no end in sight. Unlike you, I do not think that kids today are whiners who don't want to work hard; I think we, the adults, have taken things too far and are actually doing them harm.

bookworm, new york city

I homeschooled my two children until high school and struggled on and off over whether it was the right decision.

This year, my daughter started high school and has been inundated in homework, staying up until 1 or 2 am.

My main complaints are these:

1. It is too difficult for students when every teacher gives homework every day. Trying to navigate 7 or 8 classes of homework is maddening.

2. Homework becomes a penalty for conscientious students. Schools think that more homework will translate into better students, but indifferent students just ignore the homework and dedicated students who need the homework less are then saddled with more than they need.

3. Teachers make assignments without seeing the impact on the students. For finals week you would think that homework overall would be minimal so that students could study for tests, but instead teachers liberally applied homework, so students had no time to study for their finals because they were too busy doing homework for other classes.

4. Breaks should be homework-free. Kids need downtime. Why have a break if you're spending all your time doing homework?

After half a year in school, I'm glad I homeschooled my kids. Their learning didn't suffer and they had time to learn and play. Now my daughter is missing swim team, studio art, sleep, and free time. The school keeps emailing parents about fantastic opportunities that the kids can apply for...but who has time when there's all this homework to do?

wms, kansas

I am the parent of a second grader and of a first grader. I, too, hate homework. At this point in their lives it is simply busy work. Any homework my son can fly through in less than 5 minutes is not serving to reinforce anything. It is simply a mindless task assigned to fulfill some district guideline.

I don't think that any homework should be assigned in the elementary grades at all unless a child's teacher sees that s/he needs the supplementary practice as evidenced by his/her classroom performance. Beyond that, it has virtually no benefit and takes away time from family, exercise, free time to explore their own personal interests, and time with friends.

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