To Homework or Not To Homework
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To Homework or Not To Homework

To Homework or Not To Homework

To homework, or not to homework?  That is the question.

While it doesn’t quite have that Shakespearean resonance or gravity to it, the question continues to spark debate in education circles (or at least it did in 2006).

Recently some parents in my school started sending around a few resources while they explored the various layers of the homework debate.

For a sampling of the on-going debate peruse the following:

This list is by no means exhaustive, but it should give one a sampling of the many flavors in this ice cream shop of ideas.

While debating the finer points of homework vs. no homework is fun and all, I thought the conversation could benefit from some experience, so we’ve shut down the normal homework routine in my 4th grade class for the week.

Full Disclosure: When it comes to homework I typically do not give much (parents, please correct me if you disagree) — a choice of spelling/vocab work each night and a math study link to extend the lessons from the day.  Every once in a while students will be required to read (I’m fortunate in that most of my students do not need to be required to read at home in order for them to read at home) or work on a writing assignment.  However, most of the work we do, we do in school.

I put out the following questions to consider during the homework-free week:

  • Will they work harder in class?
  • Will the parents feel they have less access to what is going on in the classroom?
  • Or, will students more readily share a broader range of tales from 4th grade?
  • Will the students’ patterns and routines break down, leading to more chaos in the classroom?
  • Or, will the freed mental energy lead to new ideas and creative enterprises?

In conducting this informal experiment (way informal since I already know they will have a bit of math to take home later in the week), I’ve encouraged parents to let me know about their observations, thoughts, feelings, actions, and/or conclusions.

I’m also interested in other thoughts, innovations, and solutions to the homework question.  What are schools doing to make homework relevant, do-able, and an effective supplement to learning?  What should they be doing?

Photo by Jan Tik
6 Comments
  • Jason Flom
    Posted at 19:55h, 14 April Reply

    To Homework or Not To Homework? Your thoughts? http://bit.ly/19d49a

  • Susan - Jay's mom
    Posted at 17:08h, 15 April Reply

    The case for homeWORK. “Malcom Gladwell believes that the reason why Asian cultures are better at math than most other cultures is because people from Asian cultures have a long history of working harder. They work harder because for the last 15,000 years their culture has been based on the farming of rice, and farming rice is a very labor intensive crop. Where wheat and corn farmers rest and get drunk in the winter, rice farmers work year-round and for long hours, every day–their rice crop demands it. And it is the demands of the rice crop that grew a culture of people that work hard at other things, including math.” From an interview.

    Also-
    By Maria Glod
    Washington Post Staff Writer
    Wednesday, December 5, 2007; Page A07

    The disappointing performance of U.S. teenagers in math and science on an international exam, in scores released yesterday, has sparked calls for improvement in public schools to help the country keep pace in the global economy.

    The scores from the 2006 Program for International Student Assessment showed that U.S. 15-year-olds trailed their peers from many industrialized countries. The average science score of U.S. students lagged behind those in 16 of 30 countries in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, a Paris-based group that represents the world’s richest countries. The U.S. students were further behind in math, trailing counterparts in 23 countries.

    “How are our children going to be able to compete with the children of the world? The answer is not well,” said former Colorado governor Roy Romer, chairman of Strong American Schools, a nonpartisan group seeking to make education prominent in the 2008 presidential election.

  • Susan - Jay's mom
    Posted at 13:08h, 15 April Reply

    The case for homeWORK. “Malcom Gladwell believes that the reason why Asian cultures are better at math than most other cultures is because people from Asian cultures have a long history of working harder. They work harder because for the last 15,000 years their culture has been based on the farming of rice, and farming rice is a very labor intensive crop. Where wheat and corn farmers rest and get drunk in the winter, rice farmers work year-round and for long hours, every day–their rice crop demands it. And it is the demands of the rice crop that grew a culture of people that work hard at other things, including math.” From an interview.

    Also-
    By Maria Glod
    Washington Post Staff Writer
    Wednesday, December 5, 2007; Page A07

    The disappointing performance of U.S. teenagers in math and science on an international exam, in scores released yesterday, has sparked calls for improvement in public schools to help the country keep pace in the global economy.

    The scores from the 2006 Program for International Student Assessment showed that U.S. 15-year-olds trailed their peers from many industrialized countries. The average science score of U.S. students lagged behind those in 16 of 30 countries in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, a Paris-based group that represents the world’s richest countries. The U.S. students were further behind in math, trailing counterparts in 23 countries.

    “How are our children going to be able to compete with the children of the world? The answer is not well,” said former Colorado governor Roy Romer, chairman of Strong American Schools, a nonpartisan group seeking to make education prominent in the 2008 presidential election.

  • Jason Flom
    Posted at 17:37h, 22 April Reply

    @Luvschweetheart @peekabooplay some additional resources on the homework debate: http://bit.ly/19d49a #edreform

  • Jason Flom
    Posted at 21:07h, 06 May Reply

    @hrmason Additional resources on homework debate. http://bit.ly/19d49a

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