Saturday, August 26, 2017

The Great Homework Debate #EdChat

I wasn't sure if I was going to weigh in on this topic, but I figured I would because that is why I have a blog and Twitter account. To be honest, I'm actually pretty tired of seeing the HW debate bounce around the Twitter feed and the stances that people take. Maybe I'm not so tired of the HW debate, but the stances. Very few things in education are all or nothing.

Education is nuanced. You cannot just say all homework is bad and teachers are bad because they assign homework that takes students away from valuable family time. Ugh.

As a HS English teacher, I assigned reading almost every single day. No more than 20 pages per night. The reading has to get done outside of the classroom because there is no way possible for a HS English teacher to cover 3 novels, 2 plays,  and numerous short stories and poems in 180 days of school. It could be possible if all students did in class was show up and read with no discussion or assessment, then maybe there is enough time. I still gave students in class reading time for novels we were reading because they do have busy schedules and I try to be understanding, but students will have to read at home. That is work that is done at home. Homework. I have yet to find an instructional strategy that allowed all of the curriculum to be covered while not allowing students the time to read at home.

There is bad homework though. Work that is designed to keep students busy and they have to finish it at home. That is busy work. Word searches and crossword puzzles are the worst. In my view, most worksheets are awful and need to go away, but I do not teach all grade levels in all areas, so I could be wrong in some instances.

The problem with all homework is bad is that it is a very final statement. Twitter is not a very good place to have a HW debate because you are very limited in what you can say and education, as I said earlier, is too nuanced to be addressed  in 140 characters.

As the school year starts, I recommend all teachers to take a look at the assignments they intend to give this year and see if it is something that students need to do. Take notes on what students are doing at home and revisit the the assignments at the end of the year to see if they need to stay or go.

The final verdict from me is that there is good homework and bad homework. If we spend more time helping teachers get the most out of their instructional time, this will limit the need for homework. If something needs to go home, teachers should be supported in creating the best possible homework so students can get the most out of that take home educational experience.

Please leave your thoughts in the comments below to continue the conversation.

Hugs and High Fives,

NP