The Great Homework Debate
Pardon my split personality disorder in this post as you may hear my social studies consultant voice and my parenting voice as well. Not that the responses or comments should differ, however…
I was a bit bothered recently as I checked over my daughter’s homework assignments for correctness and questioned her for understanding (the teacher in me). I realize that while unfortunate, a growing number of lower elementary classrooms are finding less and less time for social studies instruction (thank you TCI for providing social studies and language arts objectives in your new programs). Is it appropriate to then address the content through page after page of homework that consists of simply reading 11 pages of text at the lower elementary level? As teachers and parents I believe our goal regardless of the lesson or life-topic should be understanding and retention long after the assessment. Whether it be pages of reading or a series of worksheets I’m not so sure either of these strategies promotes a homework time conducive to retention of the material and definitely does nothing to foster a love of learning in a 7 year old. Am I wrong for feeling that if content is mastered during the school day then a homework assignment is not necessary? As a teacher I have not been known for giving a great deal of homework assignments, but my students were consistently successful on both school and state assessments. I realize some parents feel that their child may be missing something if they do not bring home a backpack full of books so heavy their little backs give out, but I pose this question…might they be missing something during the DAY if they are bringing home this amount of homework? I truly believe that homework should have a clear purpose and shouldn’t be assigned if as a teacher you do not have time to provide feedback to the students on their work, regardless of the grade level. If daily instruction is diverse, incorporates various teaching strategies and is differentiated, I place my bets that students will master the content during that block of time from bell to bell. I’d rather my kids have some time after school for exercise and play since areas like physical education are facing cuts across the nation!
What do you think as a teacher and as a parent? Is homework necessary at all grade levels? How much is too much, and what kinds of assignments are meaningful in social studies instruction?