HOMEWORK – A Cruel Hoax – Part 1
Few activities drive more severe wedges between parent, teachers and kids than homework. I know of no single activity that has destroyed more family unity or caused more destruction and tears. All this, when there is absolutely no evidence to support the efficacy or value of what commonly passes as "homework."
Homework not only drives wedges and fails to work – most of it serves as a disincentive to learning rather than as a motivator to further involvement.
There are four common types of homework:
1) drill and practice
2) independent reading
3) long-term projects
4) problem solving
Wrongly, all four are almost always used to introduce the student to new material. Since the material is new, often requiring Mom and Dad to get involved in instruction, the chances of frustration, parent-child battles and academic failure, increase exponentially.
While "well-thought-out, appropriately designed and well-coordinated homework" may be appropriate at times, it is virtually impossible to find an example that meets this standard. The reality is, for the most part, homework is alienating, anti-intellectual, and encourages deceit on both the part of the students and parents. Consider the number of parents who bail their children out by completing homework which they pass off as the child's. Collaborating with this kind of deceit is wrong, but the volume has become so crippling that deceit is adopted as a way to survive.
The fact is, there is no evidence that most of what passes for homework influences the child or family "positively." Pity the poor family who suffers the failure of poorly designed and poorly coordinated homework night after night after night. Is it any wonder that so many parents and children give up and shut down to the idea of continuing their educations? They can no longer stand the fighting, the tears, the recrimination, the damaged academic self-confidence. For far too many of our children (and adults), school equals failure. The fact is, I can't think of any activity that destroys more academic potential than homework. It is no wonder that going to school suffers the terrible reputation it has acquired.
Then why so much homework? Homework has become so incredibly burdensome because schools have come under enormous pressure to perform. Unfortunately, when children fail the parents and the students can be blamed. Rarely will schools, school boards, administrators, teacher's unions or teachers allow themselves to be held responsible. Schools and teachers are responsible for the homework, often burdening the child with multiple assignments from the same teacher on the same night.
The apologists for homework are legion. However, they have no evidence to support their case. More on homework next week.