In Defense of No Homework

More discussion about homework today. John Spencer linked to a blog post (by an educational psychologist, not a teacher) called, “In Defense of Homework.”

I won’t recap her points her – please read them yourself.

I truly appreciate John Spencer’s rebuttal to the post:

  • after school time should be used at the parent’s discretion. Spencer argues that sports, music and other non-school activities can also teach time management.
  • kids already spend 6+ hours in school. That can be enough. (It certainly was for both my kids.)
  • let kids pursue their passion afterschool. Incredible learning can come from that. (Again, this has definitely been the case for both my kids. I truly believe they’ve learned far more from being involved in a theater production than from doing yet another math worksheet. And for different reasons – my son could fly through them, it was pointless. He already knew it. My daughter just doesn’t think this way. It’s excruciating and she’s not going to learn it no matter how many worksheets she gets.)
  • authentic assessments can show better true results than “drill and kill” tests. (e.g. a History Day video v. a multiple choice Scantron test)

I really wish I had seen these discussions when my daughter was in elementary school. I was just going through some files from when she was in 3rd grade, and has an assessment. We were interviewed, and we talked at great length about her struggles – our struggles – with her homework in 1st and 2nd grade. SERIOUSLY – why did I ever let that happen? Why didn’t I tell her teachers that this homework was ridiculous? Even then, I knew she was getting far more from her other outside-of-school activities (choir, theater, swimming, etc.)

She is now in high school. It’s harder to make the case against homework, I suppose. But it shouldn’t be hard to make the case that homework should be purposeful and meaningful – not just homework for homework’s sake. I still see too many pointless worksheets and busy work coming home. So far this year, I have yet to see a project where she’s required to interpret content, create something new, or do anything she’s even proud of doing. It’s all taking in vast amounts of information and spitting it back out on a test. While I’m sure I can’t make the argument that there shouldn’t be homework in high school, I’d like to see it purposeful, more than worksheets.