Dear Kingston Residents and School Personnel:
I’m pleased to read that you are going to look at your homework policy again. As you may know, I reviewed your draft policy and offered some comments in a prior blog.
As you move forth in developing you policy, let me offer a suggestion. Typically, communities form task forces and develop surveys to find out what different community members want and what they think the policy should be. I don’t think they ask the opposite question, “What would things be like for you if we did things the other way”, referring to an approach they might not like.
Think about it. I may “want” an expensive car, but I chose a cheaper model. It gets me where I want to go and makes it easier for me to pay my mortgage and buy my children food.
Teachers: What would it be like to teach kids with no homework at all? Could you do it? Would the students still learn? What about homework that could not count for more than 10% of the grade? What if you had guidelines like the ones the Race toNowhere team proposed to the National PTA this past summer? What if you had free reign to give homework, but the parents had the final say on whether it had to get done?
Principals: What do you think would happened with these different proposals? Would they diminish or enhance your control of the school? Might you see a reduction in disciplinary situations? Do you think you could keep standard test scores up? Would the children still learn?
Parents: How would these policies affect your home? Would they enhance or detract from the quality of family life? Would they give you relief for your homework-trapped child? Would you start having problems with your homework-compliant child if some of his friends were given homework relief and he was still required to get his work done?
If you study the impact of proposed homework policies, rather than settling for what people prefer, you might get a better sense about how to proceed.
My guess is that, if you pose your questions this way, you’ll find that, because most of your teachers are highly skilled professionals, they are perfectly capable of teaching children with or without homework.
Those are my thoughts. I’ve gotta go to get so I can get to my office on time (in my economy car even though I might like to drive a BMW).
Dr. Kenneth Goldberg, is the author of The Homework Trap: How to Save the Sanity of Parents, Teachers, and Students, published by Wyndmoor Press.
I recommend giving copies of the book to the teachers at your child's school. Discount purchases are available through Wyndmoor Press. Single copies can be purchased at Amazon.