Monday, March 18, 2013

Student speaks out in favor of homework

I read a comment by a sophomore in high school sharing his feeling that the homework he gets is manageable and fair. Here's the link to what he says. I wrote a comment but, as it turns out, my comment is to long for what is allowed, so I'm providing my comment here. Please follow the link to what he says and then return to this blog for my response.


Dave. It sounds like you are doing a good job, focusing on your work while sustaining a full life. I’m sure you are right in your impressions about your fellow students and their complaints. But your comments miss a very significant point that I would not expect you to see (I never saw it when I was your age), and that is that, for some kids, homework does great damage to them. Typically, the damage precedes your age and grade, taking place when those children are in elementary and middle school. By high school, things are different. If a student has reached high school and is able to select advanced courses like you have, despite his complaints, he’s still moving forward toward lifetime success. It is the child who has experienced ongoing homework pressures, with longstanding negativity, and very little success who is getting damaged by the system in place. That student rarely shows up in the classes you select and most likely spends time in different social groups. The young person feel ostracized by the school. He feels excluded from school activities. His parents have joined his teachers in getting on his case, with nothing gained for all that has gone on.

These children are “homework-trapped.” The trap is caused by a system that interferes with the parents in managing the home. It involves assignments that take that child too long to complete, with the problem typically rooted in weaknesses in the areas of working memory and processing speed (reading and handwriting).

Depending on how we define this state of being homework-trapped, the problem affects anywhere between 10 and 25% of all kids.

When I was young, there was a boy who lived two houses away from me. While I read a book, worked on a brainteaser, or did my homework, he would spend type working on his bike, which eventually turned into working on his motorcycle, and when he reached the age, working on his car. At the time, I could not see how academic requirements send home by the school might interfere with his learning through what he considered fun. As an adult, a psychologist, and a parent, it is much clearer to me that the system of homework plays out differently for different children.

I do not mean to diminish your accomplishments or underplay the importance of the good habits you have formed. In fact, I’m not sure why, at your age, you should even worry about the things that I say here. But, I am concerned that adults, parents and teachers will misconstrue your experience as a reason to overlook the experience other students have, the ones who do not take honors courses in high school, and are sure to get turned off to school. These are often bright children who have been hearing for years, “you’re so bright, you’d do so well if you just tried harder.” It’s not a matter of effort. It’s a matter of giving them some homework relief.


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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1 comment:

Alicia Conway said...

Homework is extremely important. In such a way, understanding of the material given increases substantially. In order to gain maximum of efficiency, parents should control this very process. Sometimes, though, it can be hard for them. I belong to this very category, thus, I have to ask for help in special
services, so that I can be able to help children with the fields I'm not an expert in.