Thursday, November 18, 2010

Missing Out on Their Childhoods (part 2)

Chapter 1 -  The Homework Myth



Quite a number of educators will tell you that "excessive homework has been brought about to a very large extent by parental pressure".

What seems to be more common, though is the simple desire on the part of parents for their children to succeed academically, accompanied by the belief that homework is a critical means to that end.

Some [parents] send mixed messages to teachers and principals: They complain about lost family time but also assume that too little homework reflects a worrisome lack of seriousness about academics on the part of the school. They object to the burden placed on their children but at the same time are suspicious of teachers who don't give as many assignments.

Nearly four of every five teachers in one survey said they "believe parents are barely involved in their children's homework."

Washington Post teacher quote..."the fault ultimately lies with parents who don't pressure children". On the other hand, parents are often faulted for getting too involved. It's not unusual to find teachers (and journalists) for whom this is the primary grievance when the topic of homework is raised.

The tendency to blame parents for doing too much-or too little-is, above all, a way of deflecting attention from problems with the homework itself.

If the parents sometimes feel squeezed-"Get more involved...but not too involved!" - so, too, do many educators.

To blame any of the victims here is to miss the structural issues, the forces that discourage us from asking whether homework is really desirable or inevitable.

At least it's doing them some good, we tell ourselves. At least it's improving their achievement, teaching them independence and good work habits, helping them become more successful learners. But what if none of this is true?

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