Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Homework Advice Articles

I came across an article this morning entitled Setting the Stage for Homework Success. It includes what I consider to be common fare good advice, and includes statements that are generally true. The problem is that is also perpetuates some misconceptions about homework.
The article cites a research-based association between homework and good grades, which is good, but deceiving, since homework is factored very heavily into the grading system. We could say that baseball players who hit home runs make more money that those who do not, yet, it is unlikely that any of us can will ourselves to hit home runs, let alone play well enough to be in the major leagues. This may seem an extreme analogy, but we make an error when we assume that all children are able to do their homework, at least in a reasonable amount of time.
There is a major fallacy in our thinking when we forget that the school day is marked by a clock while the homework day is marked by the assignments. Kids can succeed at school because they go in and out at the same time, regardless of their varied abilities. Homework is a fixed assignment that necessarily takes some kids longer to complete than others. One could argue that the children who are most successful at schools are the ones that did virtually no homework in elementary school because they were getting their assignments done in class while the slower-working children finished theirs. They got lots of recognition but did very little work at home.
This article mentions the idea of doing homework at a fixed time of the day. I fully agree. The key to helping children who have trouble with their homework is to make sure that fixed time is truly fixed time and that, when the time is up, the child is fully excused, whether or not the assignment is done.

I assume we are going to have a proliferation of these homework-advice articles as we approach the next school year.  If some people find it useful to read them, that's fine. I hope people start to realize that these ideas over-simplify the problem for the homework-trapped child, and misdirect parents and teachers to engage I inappropriate responses.

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.