Homework? What is it good for?
The question most parents ask their students when they come home from school is “Do you have any homework?” This concept of homework has been around almost as long as schools have existed. It has been a long-standing belief that homework is needed to be the bridge between learning in school and engaging parent support for academics.
But what really is the purpose of homework? Is it beneficial to the learning process or has it become a practice based on ‘traditional expectations’? What’s school without homework, right?
The practice of assigning homework must be meaningful, purposeful and strategically designed to reinforce learning and expectations in the classroom. There must be constant alignment to content standards and academic goals. Homework must be more than a mere worksheet or completion of problems/sentences in a textbook. Additionally, homework should be an extension of what is currently being taught in the classroom. I can’t tell you the number of times my personal children have come home with pages of homework that have nothing to do with what is happening in class. I ask for their notes or ask them to tell me how did the teacher explain this in class. They say, “We didn’t even go over this!”
I am thinking to myself, are you kidding me!!! So tell me why is this homework? Just busywork!
Imagine the parents that have worked hard all day and they come home to help their child with the homework, sometimes stumbling through the work because it is unfamiliar to them. But, because the teacher has sent it home, it must be important enough for the student to complete, right? Students should not be relegated to completing homework, only to submit it the next day and then have it returned with little or no feedback several days (maybe weeks) later. It is no wonder so many students and parents have not prioritized the need to complete homework, like in years past.
This is not to stay that all teachers value homework this way. There are many teachers who use homework as the reinforcement tool it was designed to be. These teachers spend quality time with students going over the information and providing clarity for students who didn’t understand the information. Homework is not highly weighted or punitive. It is truly used to support learning through practice.
The shift to eliminate homework in some schools and districts is a conversation we should all be having. Either homework should be used to support student learning, through meaningful practice and from teacher’s constructive, timely feedback or just don’t pass it out.