Tuesday, January 13, 2009

The Homework Revolution

Hey guys - just me on my soapbox again. Anyone who knows me, knows that I am staunchly against homework. I have MANY reasons for my opinion...the crunch it puts on family time, the stress it levels on kids, how it restricts kids from being active, and how it discourages kids from being excited about school, to name a few!!

Now, don't get me wrong...I think kids should read every day. But I find that they are more willing to read if they're not FORCED to. And I see nothing wrong with the occasional school project, like the Science Fair or a country report. But I believe that hours and hours of homework after school is actually detrimental to a child's learning.

I'm a mother of five...but that doesn't really give me the expertise to convince anyone, even though we all know that parents are the greatest teachers of all, but since I don't have a PhD, I usually get eye rolls and the brush off from the administrators that I talk to about the homework issue. And although almost all teachers will admit to me that they hate assigning, grading, and enforcing homework, and they hate dealing with it for their OWN children, in a professional parent/teacher conference, they'll all go on and on about it's supposed benefits (even though their eyes are glassy and they stare over my shoulder).

Well - unfortunately - there is a lot of misinformation out there...and more and more studies are actually proving that homework IS NOT beneficial to children at all. I told many of you about the study that Newsweek broke about the mental health issues that are rising in children (specifically boys), and that one of the Newsweek columnists suggested that the increase of homework and decrease of "creative expression" in schools (as in art, music, recess) is quite literally driving kids crazy, leading to an increase in behavior problems that often lead parents to seek professional help and medication. It was an opinion I agree with. see: http://www.newsweek.com/id/157898

Parenting magazine is has published an article about the homework overload, and is calling parents to a "homework revolution". It's an interesting read...whether you agree with homework or not. http://today.msnbc.msn.com/id/28624181/?GT1=43001

I feel that these articles are related...what's your opinion?

UPDATE: Here are some responses I received via e-mail...

Kari, a music teacher from Huntington Beach, CA said:

"Yeah, as a parent, I agree. Too much homework takes time away from my limited time with my kids after school, and furthermore causes more tension in our relationship as I am forced to be the enforcer of homework completion. I understand that it takes immersion to completely understand a subject, and it is common sense that teaches us that the more we do something, the better we get at it...but the time is the deal breaker here for me as a parent. As long as my two kids sit and diligently work on their homework with some amount of intrinsic motivation, then some homework isn't an issue for me. It is harder as a parent when the child simply does not want to do the assignments and then we engage in the power struggle. The school say, as you did, that the parent is the greatest teacher...that's a lot of pressure, especially when you're in a parent teacher conference face to face with your kid's teacher and the child's homework is consistently not done or late! The responsibility lies on you the parent. That's a tough issue to deal with, but as you did, I flat out told my son's teacher the same thing. I said, I work full time, and when I get home I want to spend some time with my kid, and yes, sometimes it is homework that is sacrificed. After a day at work, the last thing that I want to do is teach my kids! I guess that I fall into that category of the cobbler who has holes in their shoes!! We also need to teach our children about time management and sacrifice, and sometimes it the lesser of the two evils that you must choose between. I didn't read your attached articles, I have the experience as a parent to submit an opinion about the matter...I think that the premise of the article has it backwards...it is the parents that are being driven crazy by the homework, not the kids! Where's my meds? I am a teacher and I give very little home rehearsal homework and my "company line" about that is, however long it takes you to learn a song or section of a song, from the beginning to the end without stopping, that's how long you should practice. If a kid knows how to spell a word, they shouldn't have to copy it 20 times...that's just busy work..BS...homework should be meaningful, that's where the teachers are missing it. Many default to the book assignments that they can easily photocopy and pass out, teachers need to get more creative and give lessons that the kids need to learn disguised as something that they want to learn! Kids need to have some say in their learning or they will reject it altogether, even if it is a subject that interests them. We need more teachers who look for other ways to teach content, like we moms look for other "jellies to give our kids their medicine". That's my two cents."

Lani, a mom from Provo, Ut said:

Totally agree Shannan...Thanks for the articles. Another benefit of home school...of which I am not being blessed currently. :)

Amy, a mom from Miramar, FL said:

Right On Sister!!

Mellyn from Shreveport, LA said:

I absolutely agree! Loving homeschooling! NO HOMEWORK!!!!!!!!!

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