How useful is homework?
How much time do we expect students to spend doing homework? It depends on the school but if I take a very rough average of one hour per school night then that would be 5 hours per week. Equivalent to one more day in school per week!
So, if I offered you an additional day’s worth of every student’s time for learning would doing the kind of tasks you normally set, or your colleagues set, be your first choice for that time?
Why do we value homework?
Some ideas that have been given to support the use of home work are
- Independent learning. How much learning goes on? What kind of learning? My guess is quite a lot of it is low level, reinforcement and repetition. How could we possibly leave proper learning to students working alone and with a variety of learning environments in which to carry out this learning? Is homework the best way to support independent learning? If we started from the premise that we wanted independent learning would we come to the conclusion that setting homework tasks would be the best way to achieve this?
- Parental involvement. How many schools teach parents what their role is regarding their child’s homework activities? Need I say more? What about equality? I have a physics degree and I supported my daughter well. She is now a very successful engineer. We would never stop that kind of support and nor should we but homework does lend itself to advantaging the already advantaged. Or do we just mean parental involvement is to see that we do set homework? Schools are expected to set homework and we visibly meet those expectations.
- I’ll add some more later… The dog needs a cuddle.