I feel reluctant to post about homework. There are already so many good blog posts, articles and Twitter chats that have covered and debated the issues well in regards to homework. However, I particularly appreciated a recent post by John Spencer, a teacher and parent. I think he really did a great job at presenting and examining the main arguments about homework in his list, “Five False Claims About Homework”. After reading it I thought, “There… no need to read or write anything else on the topic.” (Please read it in full before reading on 🙂 )
John’s summary near the end reminded me about something that I had wondered about lately — Has there been enough discussion or distinction made about “homework as a consequence of seatwork not being done in class” as opposed to “assigned homework”. Like John, I can understand the considerations that a teacher has to make when a student doesn’t use class time well,
I see a place for homework in some circumstances. If the parents really want it and the child really needs it, then it can be seen as an extra support. Also, if a kid is being lazy in class and wasting time, I can see why a teacher would say, “Go finish this at home. You’ve already used up your free time goofing off at school.” However, I don’t see the need to give every child homework.
I would hope that a conversation between home and school would occur if the latter scenario was ongoing, even though not the easiest to address. I often recall being confused by the amount of “finish up” and “seatwork” kind of homework my own children would bring home when they were younger. It was not always the same amount as some of their friends had. Although I did not receive feedback that my children were goofing off during class time, I am sure they may have at times. It was through dialogue with them that I learned that there were often class assignments that they just preferred to do at home. I often thought it was “the introvert” in them and they did describe feeling that they needed their home space to complete the work, or that they couldn’t focus on it in class/in school any longer. I often wondered if they had been sitting too long and thus their concentration was affected as well. Given that I was not in support of homework, this presented some challenge for me while still supporting them and their needs. I knew that the classroom environment was not going to change much in their present situation at the time. It wasn’t easy to sort all this out as a parent.
It also can’t be easy to create a classroom environment that can balance the needs and expectations for both quiet and active activities and school work. This article was shared on Twitter a lot recently, “Why do we make students sit still in class?” There is plenty of “why” to consider in this aspect of school, as with many. Is there simply just too much “seatwork” — in class and with what is sent home (for whatever reason)? How much homework is active?