Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Today's Parent: the end of homework?

Today's Parent featured an article for back to school season on homework titled The End of Homework: Overwhelmed by how much work your kids have each night? Some schools are rethinking what they assign. It's a perennial topic that we seem to recycle every year. I was interviewed for the article and my contribution is below:
Many of the Canadian teachers I spoke with agree that today’s overscheduled kids have too much on their plate, and that the research suggesting homework is ineffective rings true to them. Joe Bower, a public school teacher in Red Deer, Alta., says that after 12 years of rigorously assigning traditional homework, along with severe late penalties, he had an epiphany. “Who the hell gave teachers the right to tell parents how they're going to spend their evenings, weekends and holidays? Imagine if parents came in and said, ‘This is what you're going to teach for the next two weeks.’” 
So Bower changed his approach to something more personalized. First, he familiarizes himself with the interests of each kid, then he fills the room with books and movies on those topics. For students who are interested in pursuing these interests at home, he comes up with customized projects designed to inspire and stimulate. Last, he leaves it up to the children if they want to participate. It’s what he calls “The Mission Impossible Theory of Homework” (as in, “Your homework, if you choose to accept it…”). Homework isn't part of the overall grade calculation, either. “In an optimal learning environment,” he says, “the learner would have at least as much say in the homework as the teacher.”
A correction is in order: I spent 6 years rigorously assigning homework, not 12.

The rest is bang on and reflects some of my take on homework. For more, you can find all of my blog posts on homework here.

You can read more about:

 Harris Cooper and the infamous 10 minute homework rule here.

The myth of homework's non-academic benefits. (here and here)

My Mission Impossible Theory of Homework here

And if you haven't read Alfie Kohn's The Homework Myth, you really need to.

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