Sunday, January 6, 2013

What's The Deal With Homework? #edchat

I've been reading plenty of great posts on homework, or more specifically, the lack of value to homework. Research has been done and it says it shows that homework has little impact on learning. I do not want to argue the research. My issue is the broad definition of homework.

Just because it is done at home, doesn't make it worthless. Are these studies being conducted focusing on worksheets and study guides? The odd numbered problems in the textbook? If so, I tend to agree that those assignments do not impact leaning as much as people think. However, if they are talking about the first two chapters of The Great Gatsby, the research is wrong.

I'm a high school English teacher. We have to guide our students through the invisible world of themes, symbols, satire and other important ideas that will add value to the world around them. I learned a little while back that handouts and study guides were not really helping to reinforce these ideas. It was just busy work to grade. That does not mean I ditched homework all together.

Students need to read at home and come to class ready to discuss what they have learned. At the high school level, English teachers do not have the time to let kids read all they need to read in class. When I want students to read Huck Finn, Gatsby, Catcher, The Cricible, Death of a Salesman, poems from Dickinson, works from Poe and other pieces from great American authors, reading in class every day is not possible.

Learning to read at home and annotate is an important skill that needs to be practiced at home after the skill is taught in class. So this work that is assigned to be done at home is homework, but it is valuable and important.

We all need to read and find value in our jobs. I did so when reading other posts on homework and I can now articulate my writing based on what I read. This is possible because I learned to read on my own and create my own thoughts to share with others.

I get annoyed when parts of education are generalized as all being bad or all being life changing. Like all tools, how work assigned to be done at home is used is dependent on the teacher who assigns it.

There is bad homework. There is also valuable homework. I think we need to remember that so we can have meaningful discussion about the good, the bad and the ugly.

Let the comments begin!

Nick