Sunday, February 3, 2013

The Nation, Editorial on Homework

There is an editorial in the Thai Nation, "Is Homework the Key Issue of Concern?" Thailand is one more country that has entered the worldwide homework debate. The editorial appears to be pro-homework. I left the following response:
The problem that this editorial, and so many commentators overlook, is that the "amount of homework" is a volume of work, whereas the "amount of school" is a measure of time. Children vary in the ease with which they handle their homework assignments. There will always be some students who tackle what is given without difficulty. But there are also students who work more slowly than others and end up getting drowned by requirements they cannot meet. The school system may still produce some good students and perhaps some who thrive on working all night long. But the average success rate will go down if most students cannot handle the homework demands. Another point worth noting is that this editorial mentions the goal of giving large amounts of homework is to make sure that children use their time productively when they are at ho...
me. I think this reasoning is widespread, and it is true that children have different activities they can do that may have different values for them. In general we underrate the value of spontaneous and self-directed play, but even if we accept that there are some unproductive and somewhat addictive activities kids get caught into, video games for example, the argument for more homework as a way to counter this concern is still quite bizarre since it vests authority to control children, through volumes of work, in teachers rather than with the parents in the home. What ends up happening is that parents of kids who cannot get the homework done get their hands tied and have limited options about what to do about the uncompleted work. They often don't realize what they has happened, but they are sinking into a middle management role, vis-à-vis the teachers and their children and this "stripping of authority" the parents experience is quite detrimental to their kids.

For more information on Dr. Goldberg's model, read other postings on this blog, visit his website, The Homework Trap, or read his book, The Homework Trap: How to Save the Sanity of Parents, Students and Teachers.

1 comment:

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