Friday, March 2, 2012

Homework in the News March 2, 2012

I think the teacher erred in getting offended. By having that reaction, she made two mistakes. First, she failed to fuel the budding, independent thinking of a young person. Second, she failed to sit back and ask herself if this is how her students are perceiving her and how can she relate better to them, understanding this perception exists. It could have been a breakthrough moment had the teacher done what teachers should do: see the child and nurture her thought. There is a larger message which goes beyond the particular issues raised in this case, which is a general need for parents and teachers to listen to their students and respect them more. My own professional focus has been on homework policy, and here, I think we have a need to listen to our students more, too. There are countless students who are telling us they can't do their homework, and we respond, not by helping them do whatever homework they can do within a reasonable period of time, but by harping on them endlessly and destructively, often all night long, to get the work done. We should listen to what they are saying through their words and their behavior and make modifications so that they feel heard and that their education can be a success. Kenneth Goldberg, Ph.D.

This article caught my attention as it highlights the similarities of the homework debate throughout the world. This advice given to African students could be repeated word for word in any American newspaper as advice for parents to follow.  As always, it is good advice. It does not answer the question of why a young, enthusiastic, motivated young person would not be proud to share with his parents what he is doing in school and what he has been instructed to continue to do at home. Kids are more motivated than we think. It's our failure to step back and understand what is really going on, when they refuse to do the work, that is throwing us off. There is usually an educational reason for what appears to be a motivational or behavioral problem.

Parents weigh in as LAUSD considers revision of controversial homework policy

I've commented on this story before, but I think it is worth our continuing interest. This school district is doing the right thing trying to seriously grapple with its homework policy.  Ten minutes per night per grade, with a ten percent cap on how homework is weighed in, seems reasonable. My only other comment is that ten minutes should be truly ten minutes, by the clock, and that children who put that time in are given considerable credit for what they did, whether or not everything is done.


No comments: