So, I have been trying something new this year. For those of you that know me, this is no surprise. Anyway, what I have been trying is having no official homework.
This last year I have read several articles discussing this topic. [This post will not discuss all the arguments for this, but I will offer more or a reflection.]
Alfie Kohn (www.alfiekohn.org) was where I think I first heard of the idea. He wrote a book called The Homework Myth. While I have not read the whole book, one of his main ideas is that the research out there seems to suggest that there is little positive effect of homework as it is traditionally given. That is, in the elementary (and middle) grades there is no positive effect, and very minimal effect even at the HS level.
After reading articles and listening to podcasts, I decided to give it a try. After about 4 months of trying it, I can say I don’t miss it, and most students (or parents) are crying out for me to give them some. Now, this is not a good indicator of whether or not this is a good practice, but it has caused me and my students less daily/weekly stress.
I still encourage every student to read and every parent to read to their kids, but I am not micromanaging whether they are or not. I know that those that value education will be reading with their kids, and those that don’t (or can’t), won’t. The main difference I have seen for me is that I am no longer having to discipline kids for not having a supportive (or non hectic) home life.
On the surface, it seems to be a good thing overall in my class, though I do not have hard data to support this. It forces me to work on increasing my effective use of class time, so my students can practice their skills while with me. It allows them to JUST be kids when they get home. It does seem a little strange to have these kiddos work for 6 hours while and school and then expect them to work even more after their shift.
I have been growing as an educator and I don’t want to do something just because “we’ve always done it that way”.
On the other hand, I don’t want to get rid of something just because everyone is currently starting to. So, this is a work in progress. A learning experience. I don’t know that I can ever go back to what I used to do, but I may adapt it (probably as I am always trying new things) in the future.
I will revisit this in the future with more of the support for Ditching our Homework (there is a book coming soon with this title).
Here are some links to some articles.
What are your thoughts?