Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Homework in the News 2/29/12

I found several articles referring to homework in the news today. Here are the articles and my comments.

Cedar Grove Board Awards Construction Contracts
It appears that a parent in Cedar Grove has been trying to get the school board to create a policy that will prevent kids from getting zeros for work handed in late. This has caused an uproar and the principal has been asked to propose a policy. I agree that zeros for work not handed in is an unfair and excessive penalty when you consider it has two and a half times the impact of a grade of 60, an ordinary F. My problem with the notion of handing the work in late is that, if the child cannot do the work by the assigned day, we are only piling up more and more work for that child to do. I think the answer is to place time limits on how much the child needs to do, reduce the penalties, and vest parents with ultimate decision making. This way, those parents who object to such allowances are still able to set the norms they have in their homes while giving this irate mother the freedom to raise her child in the way she feels is fit.

Homework before fun.
The author here is advocating for a concept that suggests fun is less important than education, not realizing that play is an aspect of education as well. Children learn through their play. But that notion aside, I don't want to discredit the value of education.  Education is certainly a top priority for children and something we need to take seriously. The problem is not the importance of education but "education creep," outside the boundaries of the school and into the rest of the child's day. For your information, I am writing this blog post at home after my normal work hours, because it is what I want to do. It's fun for me.  My wife did not tell me I had to do this.

If I Ace the Test, Will I Be the Best?
My compliments to this young man for taking this stand.

This is the type of common sense, good advice that, unfortunately, gets misperceived as a panacea for all parents to apply in all of their homes. I rile when I read it because, as simple, seemingly rational, and straightforward as it may seem, it gets used to simplify and overlook the real issues behind what is happening with the child who is persistently homework noncompliant.
Here's a teacher's post in the The Chronicle Herald
The teacher talks about children who have problems with math having to buckle down and do more homework, lest they fail. Keep in mind that in high school, kids are having to balance assignments from five different major subject teachers. Then, those kids are not all math whizzes. Telling them to buckle down only runs the risk of leaving them feeling overwhelmed and directionless. Again, time limits to how much work the student must do will actually mobilize that student to do more, and more effective work, than moralizing and lecturing about what that child should do. Although I'm a psychologist, I was a doctoral student in math before switching to psychology and definitely a math whiz.  The kid who lived two doors down from me used to work on his motorcycle and car after work (he would clean his bicycle when he was younger). Thank God I wasn't forced to do automotive repair homework when I was his age. I would have certainly failed school.

No comments: