Reading this article reminded me of the many times I had to help my own four children with their homework when they were young students. Being a teacher myself, I found it extremely frustrating to see the kind of homework assignments that were given on a daily basis. Often they made no sense at all.
I didn’t want to rock the boat for my kids, so most of the time I just helped them until they got it and then finished it on their own. Occasionally, I wrote the teacher, with what I considered a helpful but not scathing note, providing them with my insights on the assignment. Most of the time, I never heard back from them. Once in awhile they would send me a note back explaining their rationale.
As a teacher I understood that you can’t please everyone. I also saw how students in my own classroom seemed to do better when I did not pile on tons of homework. I discovered early in my teaching career that homework was not essential to learning. It was a nightmare to check every day and a colossal waste of their time and mine. It also created the “have and have-nots” conundrum. Those who had solid support structures at home followed through. Others had insurmountable odds that would never level the playing field for them.
The few times that I did ask for some work to be done at home, I did the unspeakable in the world of teaching. With parent agreement, I gave my students my home phone number and told them to call me if they were having trouble with homework. I had a few calls here and there, but they never abused the offer and frequently appreciated that I was there to speak with them. I did this for years and I remember my mother laughing at me and saying, “…who else does this?” It never took more than a few minutes, and it was so well worth it in the long run.
Some of my students needed someone to answer the phone and other students never called me. I realized that relationships mean everything and if we as teachers are willing to have them with our students, amazing things can happen.
The problem with most homework stems from the teacher and parent perception that is it important and vital to the learning process. It is not – and this article reiterates that point. Some food for thought!