Homework Philosophy

Discussion in 'General Education' started by acesbudin, Mar 19, 2018.

  1. acesbudin

    acesbudin New Member

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    I'm wondering if other teachers would be willing to share with me your homework philosophy? (Do you assign homework, how much/how often, what do you see as the purpose of homework, do you grade homework, etc?) I'm taking a class as part of my license renewal and it's challenging my previous views on homework, so I'd love to hear the views of other teaching professionals out there! Thank you!!
     
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  3. Been There

    Been There Habitué

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    This is a highly-charged subject that lacks consensus and varies widely among schools. What does the instructor say about homework and what are your views on the subject? Do you expect the views expressed on this forum (both pro and con) to influence your own perspective? Just wondering . . .
     
  4. Been There

    Been There Habitué

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    Let me guess - your instructor probably doesn't have a very high regard for homework. My speculation is based on the progressive direction that education has taken over the past several decades. Instead of discussing my homework philosophy, it may be more constructive for me to share some relevant experiences and observations with you.

    Research has not yet fully clarified the relationship between homework and academic achievement due to the presence of a number of uncontrolled variables. For example, one such variable is the wide age-range of students in K-12 education. From a practical standpoint, any discussion of homework would need to take into account the students' age or grade level. Do we really need research-based evidence to guide our decisions about homework?

    Studies have found that Chinese students often excel academically due to parental support and cultural expectations. One such study found that among Chinese, Japanese and American children, the Chinese students were assigned more homework and had more positive attitudes about homework than both their Japanese and American counterparts. When my friends moved back to the U.S. after spending 10 years in China, their children who were accustomed to studying until 11 or 12 at night in elementary school and middle school would complete the entire weekly homework packets from their American teachers in less than an hour - they're now taking AP classes in high school. Do you think the rigorous training they received in China and the resulting mental discipline had anything to do with their current academic success? Perhaps it's no coincidence that among my former Chinese-American classmates, many became dentists, optometrists, physicians (cardiologist, neurologist, gastroenterologist) accountants, lawyers and judges. One was even appointed as a federal court judge by President Obama! You would be correct to assume that all of these successful professionals had plenty of homework throughout their schooling.

    The relative value of homework is not so much based on one's personal "philosophy", but rather reflects a greater societal view. Here in the U.S., there is currently little consensus about whether or not homework should be assigned to students. Consequently, even within a single school, one can often find inconsistency in the assignment of homework by different teachers.

    One way to view homework is that it can serve as additional practice to reinforce newly-learned skills that cannot be completed during limited school hours. Students often spend several hours every day rigorously practicing a sport or playing a musical instrument to become proficient. Shouldn't they be expected to practice outside of school what they've learned academically as well?

    So, as the debate about homework continues and we remain embarrassingly low on the academic achievement charts, you will be expected to embrace the views of your instructor and to follow the norm at your place of employment. Food for thought.
     
    Last edited: Mar 21, 2018
  5. rpan

    rpan Cohort

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    Homework for homework sake is something I don’t agree with. It has to have a purpose. I was taught in a system where homework was given every day by every subject teacher who thought they were the only ones giving homework. It took me hours to finish homework every day. I didn’t get to enjoy my childhood very much but I have to say the discipline from it as well as the repetitive doing of a concept has helped me in my adult life and professional life. Looking back, I think 50% of the homework I was given was overkill and given only because it was expected.
    Now I don’t give students homework but I do ensure they do and practice what they need to in class. If they fail to use the classtime productively then they take the work home. Obviously this doesn’t apply to major projects and research tasks that students have weeks to finish as part of the unit of work.
     
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  6. MrsC

    MrsC Multitudinous

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    I give very little homework. When it does happen, it almost always consists of unfinished work or work on a long-term assignment. I don't evaluate anything that I haven't seen the student do; even on large assignments, the bulk of the work is done in class.

    My homework philosophy has changed dramatically over the past 7 or 8 years, beginning with watching my own children (who were strong students) struggle through 3+ hours of homework every night and consolidating when I was told by a principal to, "Just send home some math and language every night. Don't worry about collecting or marking it if you don't want to, but they need to know that they have homework." The students who don't need practice in concepts are the ones who do the homework; those who struggle are the ones who don't. Instead of spending time and energy tracking down missing homework and trying to get students to complete it, I have time to work with small groups of students who need the extra support.

    I know that this is a "hot-topic" issue and, for many, their opinions won't change. As with every decision I make in my classroom; I do what works for my students and me.
     
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  7. winstedt

    winstedt New Member

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    i prefer to give them a little bit of homework. I'm a teacher so I want to learn kids during classes, not to let them learn everything at home. That's not my job.

    Winstedt - special education jobs singapore
     
  8. mathmagic

    mathmagic Enthusiast

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    As others have said, homework for the sake of homework just doesn't fly for me. Any homework I give needs to have a specific purpose, and it builds upon something we have done in class that day. As often as possible, at the 4th grade level, I try to engage the students and parents in working together on something, or having the student teach/share with the parent something.

    Research has shown little to no positive effect (and possibly a negative effect) at the elementary age, but research has also shown the strong benefits of independent reading. As such, I try to free up as much as their day to be able to dive into good books (I have no requirements around their independent reading - no reading log, no set number of books per month, etc...).

    All that said, I provide a ton of options for extensions/enrichment/practice, should a family choose that they want their child to do that, or if the child themselves want to engage in that. The more that they develop that independent choice of practicing something they need to work on, the longer it'll actually stick.
    (By the way, I think others' points around family support and parental guidance being a big factor that isn't taken into consideration with homework research is certainly a good one!)
     
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  9. Backroads

    Backroads Aficionado

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    I actually wonder if my personal pendulum on the matter is beginning to swing.

    I teach lower elementary. I don't think homework is necessary or even a particularly great idea at this level. These kids' main goal is to master reading. So, if the homework is, well, reading... go for it. Lots of reading. That easily supports the goal.

    But all the busy work that becomes homework? Nah, I think it's more of a distraction and, yes, I really do think kids need to be out playing. If parents want to do extra phonics activities, why, in this day and age of easily accessible technology and all the doo-dads there, does a teacher need to assign it? I can find phonics stuff for my kid on my phone easy-peasy.

    I also don't buy into the idea that it teaches lifelong work skills (again, at this early elementary level). I was not stunted in my car driving abilities because I wasn't driving a car at the age of six. Most kids aren't going to balk at appropriate homework later in their school careers just because they didn't do it in kindergarten. I daresay most kids will accept eventual homework as the way of that level of school.

    Now, high school, jr. high, perhaps even upper elementary, I can see why homework might be a good choice for reinforcing skills or even just getting some extra learning done. And I can see why that would help with the homework work ethic.

    But at my current level, I just don't buy into it.
     
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  10. Bioguru

    Bioguru Companion

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    I quit assigning homework a few years into my teaching career. Here's my reasoning.

    First and foremost, cheating is absolutely rampant. With slader.com, students can get answers to every single textbook in the world. Through Google, they can find answers to almost any worksheet. Only about 5% of the students, that actually want to do well and learn something, are going to take an honest crack at it.

    Secondly, even the best students (myself included) would often get home and have trouble on the homework despite understanding the material in class. To remedy this, I always give out problem sets in class that everyone does independently; if they have questions I'm there in class. I also supply optional extension problems if they want to try the skill out later. So an average day looks like a 15-20 lecture, 25 minutes to work on about 10 problems, and an additional 5 problems if they wish. I will then quiz them over material every 2-3 days to give them an opportunity to study the material, test their understanding, and give me an idea of how they are understanding material.
     
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  11. Backroads

    Backroads Aficionado

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    I think it's tricky to compare country homework policy to country homework policy because it is so much more than "do or do not assign homework". China, for instance, has homework... plus thousands of years of education-focused family culture.
     
  12. swansong1

    swansong1 Virtuoso

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    I teach special ed so my take on homework may be different. I send home one project every quarter that I expect the parents to assist with. The remainder of my homework consists of the little bit of work they may not have finished in class and a weekly spelling test for which the students are responsible. I need to know what my students understand and the only way I know that is to see what they can do in class. Homework is either an exercise in the parents ability, ignored by the students, or attempted incorrectly (which plants an incorrect answer or method in the student's minds). In my opinion, homework is just an exercise in futility. It aggravates working parents, frustrates tired students, and doesn't serve to educate my students any better.
     
  13. MissCeliaB

    MissCeliaB Aficionado

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    In my English classes, their homework is to read from their AR (personal choice) book each night. In speech, I may ask them to practice their upcoming speech in front of three different people. In film, I rarely give homework. When I do, it is work that was not completed in class, or an ongoing project (filming or editing a short film.)
     
  14. Hokiegrad1993

    Hokiegrad1993 Comrade

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    One thing that pertains to homework is the question what does a grade mean to you? We discussed this in my field study class and depending on the viewpoints of what a grade is was related to whether or not homework was given.
     
  15. acesbudin

    acesbudin New Member

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    The class text is against the practices of assigning homework just to have homework, assigning the same homework to the whole class (versus differentiating based on student needs), expecting that kids have a parent home to help them, not accepting late work (or accepting it with far fewer points awarded), grading homework and various other long-standing practices and beliefs.
    I haven't had my own classroom for several years as I've been home raising my kids, but when I was teaching, I did grade homework and expect that it be turned in when due. I do agree that differentiation is necessary for assignments to be beneficial to some students, as well as some of the other points made in the book, but as I'm not in the classroom full-time, I was curious what current teachers' beliefs and practices are. Will views influence my perspective? Maybe! I prefer to get several viewpoints instead of simply accepting what my text says as true!
     
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  16. acesbudin

    acesbudin New Member

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    Thank you all for sharing your thoughts and practices!
     
  17. Teacher234

    Teacher234 Cohort

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    This is very similar to what I do for my students, especially in math.
     
  18. Been There

    Been There Habitué

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    Forget about hackneyed cliches like homework for homework sake. We as teachers seem to be able to rationalize just about anything we do or don't do in the same way that some of our students do - of course, everyone is entitled to their own opinion on this matter. Those of you who have conveniently decided that homework is a waste of time would have a hard time teaching at a consent decree school like the one I worked at many years ago. This chronically underperforming school was under court order (the district lost the lawsuit) to do everything necessary to educate its students. Teachers had to turn in daily comprehensive lesson plans that always included homework (not the kind for homework sake). Homework often consisted of additional practice to reinforce what students had learned that day in more than one subject and sometimes included a supplemental page from one of the workbooks intended for this purpose. No one had the prerogative to make a professional decision not to assign homework.

    Can you identify a single practice that is shared by all teachers in grades K-12? To be sure, there's occasional overlap, but for the most part almost everyone seems to do everything differently with their own students - including when, how much and even whether or not to assign homework at all. In order for a given practice to become an institution (i.e. established practice) in schools, it must not only be: a) recognized as having educational value, b) introduced to students at an early age system-wide and c) continued in all subsequent grades. The common complaint of high school teachers and community college instructors that their students balk at having to do homework is the result of a pervasive attitude that homework is a waste of time (sound familiar?).

    During my last year in the classroom, I provided literacy intervention to a class or 2nd graders who were reading at the pre-primer level. My goal was to accelerate students' learning so that they would be reading at grade level by the end of the school year. As you might have guessed, they were given daily homework often consisting of short stories that they could practice reading at home and models of complex sentences to be copied. These young students were so hyped over learning to read and write that they literally pleaded with me to give them more homework! As the pace increased, I would often resort to giving them materials for the next day's lesson. They learned to self-correct their own ungraded work and proudly kept all assignments neatly organized in their binders. Within just a few months, they were reading stories that I had written at a high school reading level and writing 14-word grammatically-correct sentences using advanced vocabulary. Believe it or not, they even wanted to learn to read poems by Lord Tennyson and a few recited the poems from memory without any encouragement from me! ("Can I read it to the class, can I?") I sometimes imagine what it would be like if everyone were to be on the same page with meaningful homework.

    It's okay if you don't agree with my views about homework - just food for thought from someone who benefitted from the intact education system of the 50s and 60s.:D
     
    Last edited: Mar 24, 2018
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  19. MrsC

    MrsC Multitudinous

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    My decisions about homework have nothing to do with "convenience".
     
  20. agdamity

    agdamity Fanatic

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    We use standards based grading, so anything the students work on at home cannot be used towards determining their report card grades as there is no way to verify it was done independently. As a result, the only homework I assign is to read 20 minutes a night.
     
  21. futuremathsprof

    futuremathsprof Aficionado

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    Learn kids during classes...? And you’re a teacher?!
     

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