Friday, December 13, 2013

Anti-homework movement is growing

In a post to his brilliant blog, Education Rethink, John Spencer grabs the reader with this opening line: "I hate my son's homework." One sentence in, and I knew I would love Spencer's post.
Unlike some of my own posts, which may come off as venting against the practice of assigning homework, Spencer's blog offers some useful advice for teachers who are interested in changing their approach. For example, he says:
"Write out a rationale regarding why you don't assign homework. One of the biggest selling points for me was the explanation that I would not waste any class time. I had seen the way teachers would waste time and say, "I'll just assign that as homework."  The other big selling point was the notion of instant feedback and the potential lack of feedback at home."
A few hours after Spencer's post went live, comments poured in from supporters. One commenter links bad homework to bad teaching:
"I think teachers who want to do away with homework must also be prepared to fully engage kids in learning and guided practice for the entire class period. Sloppy homework follows sloppy teaching."
Another reader, seemingly joining the anti-homework movement, suggests some basic in-class writing, in place of something else assigned as an out-of-class activity:
"In many cases, informal writing during class is a better way of providing opportunities to engage with material than homework. Informal writing looks easy, but writing good prompts that produce learning and/or produce valid formative assessments is not easy."
It's exciting to see other educators writing about the negative impact homework has on teaching and learning.

So, are you ready to join the anti-homework movement?

A version of this is cross-posted at The Results Only Learning Blog
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  1. Doesn't this stand in stark contradiction to the flipped classroom model. Just because some people abuse or misuse a tool doesn't justify the elimination of that tool altogether. As a lifelong learner I do homework all the time. Homework is what lifelong learning is about. I would agree that there is a justification for transforming the relationship to this activity but I have to vehemently disagree with your overall rationale here.

    1. This may be in contradiction to the flipped classroom. I haven't said I'm a proponent of that model. I'm also not against lifelong learning and out-of-class work. I want students to be inspired to learn and to choose to extend their learning.

      What kind of homework do you do? Is it assigned by a teacher? Is it copying material or filling in blanks? Or is it engaging activity that you enjoy? The former type of HW is demoralizing. The latter is about lifelong learning. Thanks for weighing in.


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