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Down with Homework!

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No more pencils! No more books! No more students' dirty looks!

girl doing homework
Teacher Confidential: I hate homework. I'm not ashamed to admit it. I hated getting homework when I was a student. And as a teacher, I hate giving it.

As a full-time teacher, I rarely send work home -- a habit I picked up from my years as a student in my father's classroom. When I began long-term subbing in various schools, the mounds of papers I sent home astonished me. Rushing through a stack of worksheets with an answer key just to get the things entered into the grade book is excruciating. That got me thinking -- if I can easily skim homework when I grade it, how much can my students really be learning when they complete it? I asked my dad that very question, and he had a simple answer. A phrase I was raised on.

"Don't let schoolwork interfere with your education."

A thirty-year veteran teacher-turned-principal, my father assigned projects to take home on occasion, but never "homework." According to him: Worksheets = Busy Work. I couldn't help but agree. Work should be done in school not at home. School is like a child's full-time job. Who would take over two hours of work home after putting in a full day at a job they're not getting paid to do? And imagine that day is filled with endless meetings and lectures. Any sane person would need to unwind -- kids need to release that energy so much more with time to play, not another two hours slaving over homework. "Forget the worksheets. Teachers are too full of themselves filling out all the little checkmarks indicating that their students have completed every jot and tittle of every mundane assignment."

An overload of homework leaves kids with no time to actively apply the knowledge gained in the classroom. They're too busy practicing on worksheets, which is little more than memorization by rote. What good is having basketball practice if the team never plays a game?

Education isn't Linear
Knowledge accumulates through time and experiences. Because my father believed this so thoroughly, parents pulled their kids out of his classroom for family vacations with his blessing, no homework allowed. "If parents want to drive their kids to the Grand Canyon, or even Disneyland, what could I possibly offer in the classroom that would match it. Let them have family time, learn to get along with parents and siblings, experience the vastness of our country, smell the roses, etc. etc. Do I want to send homework along? No way. Only requirement - tell us about it when you get back."

Parents and teachers shouldn't worry when a child picks up a specific lesson, because if it's knowledge worth having, they will get those lessons again and again. The lessons children miss on absent days have no direct bearing on everyday life, so a few missed ideas won't cripple their education. In the long run, how important is it if your child picks up a certain kernel of knowledge today, or next week, or next year. Whether playing with friends after school or taking a few days off for a vacation, life experiences are just as important.

Bottom line: Don't let homework interfere with an education.

Tell Us: Do you think your kid's homework interferes with their education?

Check out our Homework Helper in the momlogic community.

next: Did Casey Contribute to Another Death?
12 comments so far | Post a comment now
mel March 26, 2009, 8:50 AM

That is a wonderful point. I wish that all teachers had that same philosophy. With two children in school, all we do in the evening is homework. I hate it. I would rather spend time with them since they are gone half the day to school.

Ginny March 26, 2009, 8:51 AM

Love this. I totally agree with the exception of things they need to practice such as math and reading/comprehension. I remember when homework was done to enhance what was going on at school, such as researching something that the class was working on. Now it almost seems like work gets assigned just for the sake of work (busy work as you put it). Two hours of homework is ridiculous. As a teacher, I hate it, too.

Kristen March 26, 2009, 9:32 AM

Maybe if more teachers thought this way and we were able to get class sizes down then education would become fun.
We homeschool so that we don’t have to deal with all the extra garbage and busy work. It’s great to hear that their are actually teachers out their who are likeminded. I bet those students are very appreciative.

Teresa March 26, 2009, 9:55 AM

I bet your students love you! Bravo! March 26, 2009, 12:16 PM

I’m forwarding this article to my kids teachers ASAP. This is what I’ve been claiming for years: There’s a new set of learning skills that happens after school when the child is able to be social with friends, cook dinner with the family and interact with siblings. School work should stay at school!

Anonymous March 26, 2009, 2:14 PM

I’m a teacher and I totally agree with this, always have. However, my district mandates what homework I must give. I try to work it out so that I don’t have to give them too much busy work but really, what am I going to do, argue with the district?

Family Homework Answers March 26, 2009, 4:18 PM

It is not very often that a blog post makes me want to cry, but you have managed to do that! This is EXACTLY what I am talking about day in and day out to parents, teachers and educators! I love so much of what you have written, but the quote from your father about Disneyland and the Grand Canyon? Priceless. Great job! I am sharing this with everybody.

Kirstie March 26, 2009, 6:25 PM

As a college student in a teacher prep program - I completely agree with the sentiment in the article. Kids get WAY too much thrown at them. Students of past generations never had this much work to do outside of school, and yet they are successful adults today.

However, forwarding this to your children’s teachers will likely get you nowhere. I’m sure most of THEM agree with this article too - busy work for your kids is 30x the busy for them, as they sit and grade massive stacks of those busy worksheets. Districts often mandate that teachers give a certain amount of homework, and teachers face repercussions for not following them. Take it to a higher power - forward this to administration, the Board of Ed, etc. Make your voice heard!

Bec Thomas March 26, 2009, 11:24 PM

While this is a long known fact the problem is many states and districts require a certain amount of homework. Often these laws at the state level come from poeple that have done little research into education or studied what effective learning actually is.

Jen March 30, 2009, 10:23 PM

Teachers are also trying to please the parents who want no homework and the parents who want tons of it. It’s hard to make everyone happy.

julie April 22, 2009, 2:12 PM

I like your idea. My daughter is in fourth grade and she does HOURS of homework several days a week. We have been talking to her teachers, and they deny my “claim”. I must be maiking it up. Silly me.

Olwen September 9, 2009, 12:20 PM

Good morning. Nobody is ever met at the airport when beginning a new adventure. It’s just not done.
I am from Micronesia and also now am reading in English, give true I wrote the following sentence: “When the court comments much, she is going in the show, with four regulations around combining to tear to her, b est lace wigs.”

Thank you so much for your future answers 8). Olwen.

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