Friday, March 29, 2013

More on yesterday's blog

I received a response from my comment yesterday on a mother's blog and decided to add some follow-up thoughts. Here they are:

I understand what you are saying. One of the major points in my model, which differs from what other homework critics are saying, is that homework, by its very nature usurps power from the parents. As you make clear, it is your opinion, as a parent, that, despite the time spent on protests, the overall impact is good for your child. I honor that and think you should have the power and authority to follow your beliefs. One basic truism about being a parent is that we all approach it from our own point of view and do the best we can. We love our children, and it is that love, not just the specific decisions we make, that proves central to them growing up and thriving.
When I look at my experience with my children (I have three who are all grown up), I can say with certainty that my thinking evolved out of those experiences. Had I only had two children, I would have never directed my practice, as a psychologist, to the study of homework. I would have accepted the fundamental rightness of homework and set a tone in my home that one should respect authority and do what one was told (even if I sometimes doubted a particular assignment).
With my third child, it was different. The homework battles were unrelenting and the source of the problem was a difference between his being an obviously bright child and his difficulties managing work at home. My wife and I joined the school in its efforts to get him to do his work. Over time, we began to see the situation in a different light, and realized that he needed homework relief, in the form of true by-the-clock time boundaries, if he were to succeed. The school was variable in its willingness to defer to our point of view. In every case, he excelled (not just grade wise but in true learning) when we had authority to make our own decisions at home, did very poorly when the school would not bend on what they insisted he do.
It was because of this that I wrote The Homework Trap. It is really the book I wish I had to use as a basis for making my point. As much as I was respected for being "Dr. Goldberg," as a parent, I was seen as an ordinary parent (which is the way it should be). It would have helped to have my own Dr. Goldberg, over my shoulder, supporting what I was saying.
But in the end, the most harmful part was that the school could make homework decisions that superseded my authority as a parent.
So when you say in your response that you feel what you are doing is good for your child, my response is "great, go for it." In the end, I consider the most important change that needs to occur with homework policy is to vest, with parents, full authority over what happens in the home. If you find, as your child grows up, that your position is what he needs; you, as his parent, should have the full right to continue as you see fit. My concern is that you may hit a point where you see things in a different way. Perhaps, your child will incorporate the habits and skills you want him to develop and that is fine. Perhaps, he won't. Then I ask, who will make the decision about what is required of him in your home: you or the school? In my mind, final decision-making should always be yours.

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. 

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