Homework Wars: Why Limiting Homework is Not the Solution

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Ever since the invention of school, there have been debates over homework. Should we institute more homework or less homework? Or, should we ban homework all together?

In The New York Times article, New Recruit in the Homework Revolt: The Principal, parents, teachers and educational administrators sound off on the homework debate. After reading the article, one thing is clear. Limiting homework is not the solution. Why, you ask?

Parents, teachers and administrators are not aligned on the problem we are trying to solve by limiting homework. This misalignment only adds fuel to the fire.

In reading between the lines, here are some of the challenges parents, teachers, and adminstators are looking to solve:

  • How to make homework less rote and more meaningful?
  • How to define the role of homework in raising student achievement?
  • How to coordinate teachers and subjects so that students are not inundated with homework?
  • How to integrate the curriculum across teachers and topics so that homework has more impact?
  • How to increase parent/kid time?
  • How to use homework to connect parents to the classroom?
  • How to do more with less money and fewer resources?
  • How to keep up with the testing pressures of No Child Left Behind
  • How to help kids enjoy their childhood?
  • How to reinforce classroom learning?

By limiting homework, we will not be solving all of the challenges raised by parents, teachers and adminstrators. In my point of view, limiting homework is the simple solution.

I am pro homework. Yes, that’s right. I am standing up for homework. But, not just any type of homework. I believe the more difficult task facing parents, teachers and adminstrators is taking a hard look at the challenges we are trying to solve and crafting a holistic solution to a daunting problem. Adding more fuel to the fire by pointing fingers at one another will not solve the problem. Instead, we should ban together for the benefit of our children.

When I look at the homework wars that have erupted, I do see a solution. But, unlike banning homework, this solution takes teamwork, dedication, and changing the nature of the very system we are arguing about. For me, homework is a symptom of the problem. The problem itself is the education system. With some out of the box thinking, creativity, and innovation I see a future where…

  • Students learn by experimenting (less rote and more doing)
  • Students enjoy doing homework because it is engaging, as well as, impactful
  • Parents look forward to doing homework with their children
  • Teachers collaborate across subjects to help improve student outcomes
  • Teachers leverage creativity to find meaningful ways to teach subjects
  • Administrators take a hard look at what is working and what is not
  • Administrators have the courage to change what is not working

Take a look at one innovative school system is doing to combine the forces of parents, teachers, administrators and community:

At the end of the day, our problem isn’t homework. Our problem is the system of education as we know it today. I am holding out hope for 21st century learning to take effect. Until then, let’s not throw out the baby with the bath water. Our problem isn’t homework, though a small part of the problem may be how homework is conceptualized.

Article first published as Homework Wars: Why Limiting Homework is Not the Solution on Technorati.

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One Response to Homework Wars: Why Limiting Homework is Not the Solution

  1. Pingback: Homework: A Convenient Truth | This Teaching Life

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