Though I haven’t taught in a classroom for many years, I still have strong opinions about teaching. I loved being a teacher, and I loved teaching, but I didn’t like homework. I still don’t like homework.
When I was teaching in a private school the parents of my students came from a whole number of different backgrounds and most of them expected homework to go home, even in kindergarten. This was a school that already ran longer than public schools, had a high esl population and most of the kids were bussed. This meant that by the time the kids got home and ate supper it would be bedtime for most of them, especially in the younger grades. Still, some form of homework was expected.
In the grade five and six classes I taught, most of the work we did was in the classroom and before I sent any projects home we would do a few in school first so the students wuld understand how to work on a project. Unfortunately this didn’t always work out and I would still regret sending the work home. As much as the parents wanted homework and projects sent home, there was an awful lot of confusion about what the students had to do, how long it would take them and what materials they would need.
I still think that most homework is a waste of time. I hate projects coming home. It is not that I am not capable of helping Aidan with any of his work. The real problem is that most teachers send home ridiculously vague project outlines. It may be partially because of a language difference, but it isn’t only that. I am pretty sure that the project outlines I sent home were the same. Since you know what you are asking the students to do, you forget that the students may only have a vague idea and that the parents will have an even vaguer idea.
Don’t even get me started on the group projects that are coming up in later grades. When do kids have time outside of school and all their other activities to get together with a group of kids from their class to get a group project finished? It is hard enough in a school where the kids are mostly in the same neighbourhoods. The catchments for the specialty schools are another story. Group projects should be done in school as far as I am concerned.
I am not the only one. There is lots of educational research that says homework is a waste of time, especially in the elementary grades. That isn’t to say that nothing educational should happen after school hours, but that it shouldn’t be prescribed by the school. Most kids have extracurricular activities on at least one day afterschool, and most have something on the weekends. It may be arts or music related or some sort of sport. Our boys have swimming, piano and theatre classes this term and next term we will add dance for Quinlan. These are especially important because Aidan needs a low impact high cardio exercise for his hips, and they need the arts to be well rounded and happy individuals.
What do you think? Should we ban homework?