A No Homework Policy? Alfie' Kohn's idea

Discussion in 'Secondary Education' started by ayotte04, Jun 11, 2007.

  1. ayotte04

    ayotte04 Comrade

    Joined:
    Jan 8, 2007
    Messages:
    483
    Likes Received:
    0

    Jun 11, 2007

    First off, I have to say a big THANKS to everyone's support in responding on this discussion board. As a new teacher it's been quite helpful.
    I recently began reading Alfie Kohn's book about "the homework myth, and how kids get too much of it". I'm not finished but so far he's using scores of studies and statistics to prove there is almost no improvement in learning based upon assigning homework. I believe there are other books about this topic as well.
    At this point I'm not convinced of his theory. If I hadn't done my hw when I was in school i wouldn't have learned very much and wouldnt have been able to engage in conversations during class which thereby enhanced my understanding of concepts.

    I'd like to hear everyone's ideas about this theory (if you haven't read the book do a little research online to understand the gist of Kohn's claim)
     
  2.  
  3. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

    Joined:
    Jun 10, 2007
    Messages:
    14,468
    Likes Received:
    2,485

    Jun 11, 2007

    I teach a foreign language. If I didn't assign vocabulary review as homework, my students would never memorize vocabulary. Without having vocabulary words memorized, we would never be able to use the target language because they'd be too busy looking everything up in the dictionary.
     
  4. ChangeAgent

    ChangeAgent Comrade

    Joined:
    Jun 1, 2007
    Messages:
    457
    Likes Received:
    0

    Jun 11, 2007

    Alfie Kohn is rather controversial. He also is opposed to extrinsic motivators and behaviorism (and his arguments appear rather convincing). I feel he is a good read (I have read his Punished by Rewards book), whether you agree with him or not. As we can see it, he makes people think.

    I have not read the book you are referring to, ayotte04, and, off the top of my head (and a quick perusal of the table of contents), he does not tackled homework in Punished by Rewards.

    Is he against all kinds of homework, or just certain approaches to it? Does he see it as "busy work" or mindless "recall?"

    Also, as with all statistics, it's all in the reading of them--and their goal when beginning research (and in measurement errors).
     
  5. ms.jansen

    ms.jansen Companion

    Joined:
    Jul 9, 2006
    Messages:
    205
    Likes Received:
    0

    Jun 11, 2007

    What I have taken away from Kohn's work is that assigning homework should be the exception not the rule. I tend to agree with most of his arguments, but I still assign homework because sometimes there is just not enough time to practice a skill during the school day. He definitely makes you think and probably change, even if you don't go to the extremes he proposes.
     
  6. eduk8r

    eduk8r Enthusiast

    Joined:
    Feb 24, 2007
    Messages:
    2,168
    Likes Received:
    1

    Jun 11, 2007

    Homework, ha. I could never get more than 8 of my 30 students to do their homework. I took away recess each day it wasn’t turned in for two weeks, that didn’t change a thing. I did have a reward system in place, they’d get their two tickets a day for the student store, plus at the end of the week, candy. Talked with parents, sent notes home. Nothing was working. Starting in January, I figured I was going to have to be the one to change. At the same time, our principal gave us 30 minutes longer a day for math. Before, we would work on the lesson for 30-40 minutes then play math games. With the extra 30 minutes, after the math lessons they were able to work on homework, when finished, play the math games. So, I finally got them to do their homework! In class! :) The extra practice really helped them. Whatever it takes, right? :)
     
  7. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

    Joined:
    Apr 12, 2006
    Messages:
    27,534
    Likes Received:
    6

    Jun 11, 2007

    I teach math. I give homework every night, starting with our first day in September. The only nights my kids don't have homework are the nights after a test.

    My homework is meant to reinforce the material taught in class. The kids work on their own, to discover whether or not they have mastered the concept. If class starts and I realize that everyone had a hard time, I know I have to revise my lesson. If one or two kids are the only ones who had difficulty, they know they'll need extra help.

    I also have a hard and fast rule about homework: it should take no more than 20 minutes. My kids know that if it does, they can stop. (And I mean 20 minutes of real work, not pretending to work.) If I've assigned too much, it's my problem. If they're really struggling, then the homework has done its job: it has shown the need for extra help.
     
  8. bandnerdtx

    bandnerdtx Aficionado

    Joined:
    Jan 15, 2007
    Messages:
    3,506
    Likes Received:
    12

    Jun 11, 2007

    Many of my students simply do not have time to do homework. They are from low income families and they *have* to work to help pay the bills. I've got kids who come to school in their work clothes because they know they wont have time to go home and change.

    Should education be their priority? Of course. That's easy for me to say though when I'm not worried about if I'm going to have a place to live this month. That may sound extreme, but I think a lot of our kids are in that situation.
     
  9. eduk8r

    eduk8r Enthusiast

    Joined:
    Feb 24, 2007
    Messages:
    2,168
    Likes Received:
    1

    Jun 11, 2007

    Yes, and there are a lot of children whose parents are working and who are just barely hanging in there. Also, they don't understand the homework themselves. (Which I wouldn't either if I weren't teaching it! If you don't use it, you forget it. Adults have a lot on their minds.)
     
  10. E Bunni 99

    E Bunni 99 Rookie

    Joined:
    Dec 28, 2005
    Messages:
    81
    Likes Received:
    0

    Jun 11, 2007

    I do not give much homework each night as I have the same problem of having some students complete it and others not. I teach 7th grade English and have my kids complete 100 minutes of reading each week. Most of the kids have no problem getting it done, and by the end of the year most are reading double the required time! :) At the moment, my classes are 90 minutes each.... but next year we are going down to 60 minutes. It will be quite an adjustment! I am not sure what I am going to do!
     
  11. JWar417

    JWar417 Rookie

    Joined:
    Jul 30, 2006
    Messages:
    52
    Likes Received:
    0

    Jun 11, 2007


    TPRS is a wonderful method! If it had been around when I was studying Spanish, I would be teaching that right now!
     
  12. Mathadore

    Mathadore Rookie

    Joined:
    May 9, 2007
    Messages:
    13
    Likes Received:
    0

    Jun 11, 2007

    I teach math too, and I assign homework on a daily basis. My homework are not long at all, the students who listened in class should not spend more than 15 minutes on the assignments.
    I do think that they need to work a little bit on their own at home.
     
  13. AHB

    AHB Rookie

    Joined:
    Jun 12, 2007
    Messages:
    31
    Likes Received:
    0

    Jun 12, 2007

    I really appreciate this reasoning. I have been teaching 6 years and not heard anything like that. Thank you :)
     
  14. ayotte04

    ayotte04 Comrade

    Joined:
    Jan 8, 2007
    Messages:
    483
    Likes Received:
    0

    Jun 12, 2007

    Yes AHB, definitely go take a look at Kohn's book. Where in FL do you teach? I used to live in Jacksonville.
     
  15. AHB

    AHB Rookie

    Joined:
    Jun 12, 2007
    Messages:
    31
    Likes Received:
    0

    Jun 12, 2007

    Ayotte04 I just got your response in email- I was actually directing that comment to the math teacher that put the rationale behind his homework policy so succinctly. It just makes since to put a time limit on it and use it only as an indicator that the child clearly needs help. The only thing I worry about would be students who take advantage of the teacher's trust about earnestly working that whole 20min. I think the idea of not assigning homework ever is crazy and I'm not sure if you said you were a 3rd grade teacher or not but for 3rd grade in Florida it's a lot and I mean a lot of homework because of FCAT. Don't kid yourself, homework is a critical part of the day for a number of reasons.
     
  16. AHB

    AHB Rookie

    Joined:
    Jun 12, 2007
    Messages:
    31
    Likes Received:
    0

    Jun 12, 2007

    By the way, I'm in Jacksonville :)
     
  17. cjven

    cjven Rookie

    Joined:
    Jun 10, 2007
    Messages:
    81
    Likes Received:
    3

    Jun 12, 2007

    Since I teach social studies i usually give a reading assignment each night but it shouldn't take them longer than 20 minutes. My biggest problem is getting them to actually read so they don't come to class unprepared.
     
  18. AHB

    AHB Rookie

    Joined:
    Jun 12, 2007
    Messages:
    31
    Likes Received:
    0

    Jun 12, 2007

    Hi Cjven,
    I learned this in a workshop....you can tell them to discuss what they read for 5 min. then write down three ideas that the reading and discussion sparked on 3 separate sticky notes. Then have them walk around the class while some upbeat music plays and they all have to give away their ideas to other students. Once each student has 3 sticky's from other students - at the end of the song - then assign the students to write about one of the ideas and save the others for a time when you might be doing a review of the information at a later date.
     
  19. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

    Joined:
    Jun 10, 2007
    Messages:
    14,468
    Likes Received:
    2,485

    Jun 12, 2007

    TPRS works for Spanish because Spanish is a spoken language, whereas Latin is not. Furthermore, Latin uses cases, which basically means that the word changes depending on its role in the sentence. If I'm using the word for journey as the subject (as in The journey was long), I'll say iter, but if I'm using it to show possession or as a partitive genitive (as in This part of the journey was hard), I'll say itineris.

    If I'm trying to get students to put a sentence together in Latin using TPRS, they have to recognize the gesture for journey/iter (easy enough), and then think about what it's doing in the sentence (not so easy), and then remember which ending is used for that grammatical role (not so hard once you memorize the endings, of which there are at least 14 for each noun).
     
  20. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

    Joined:
    Apr 12, 2006
    Messages:
    27,534
    Likes Received:
    6

    Jun 13, 2007

    I was the teacher, so I'll respond:

    I'm sure that one or two kids do take advantage... at the beginning. But after a while I know the kids, and I know who tends to work at which rate.

    So if Nicole comes in with a little done and says she worked for 20 minutes, I believe her-- she tends to work slowly and struggle. But Rich finishes every test in half the period. Unless something is up, he's not being truthful. Besides, if he had THAT much trouble, I KNOW he'll be at extra help this week, right Rich???

    So, sure, some kids probably get away with it once in a while. But I check so many homeworks that it isn't a big deal. And it's a risk I'm willing to take.
     
  21. JWar417

    JWar417 Rookie

    Joined:
    Jul 30, 2006
    Messages:
    52
    Likes Received:
    0

    Jun 13, 2007

    True enough - our Latin teacher doesn't use it, but German, Spanish and French do and the kids love it. I just marvel at how well they speak.

     
  22. pamms

    pamms Comrade

    Joined:
    May 14, 2005
    Messages:
    457
    Likes Received:
    0

    Jun 14, 2007

    I love this idea. I know sometimes with my daughter (just finished 4th grade) often the main issue with homework was that she felt overwhelmed, like it was going to take her forever to do and so then she'd drag her feet and it would take forever. If there is a time limit like that, I think it would really help.
     
  23. pamms

    pamms Comrade

    Joined:
    May 14, 2005
    Messages:
    457
    Likes Received:
    0

    Jun 14, 2007

    Homework can be tricky. I do think that studying as homework is always going to be important, but I also feel that it should always be studying/homework that students should absolutely be able to do on their own. Because of the curriculum demands in each grade now, I think teachers have had to rely more and more on homework as a way to get everything done in the year (before the big tests!) and this just further separates the haves and the have nots. The kids who have parents who work with them, put an emphasis on school work, and are able to help with the homeworketc; have an advantage over those kids who don't have that sort of support.
     
  24. AHB

    AHB Rookie

    Joined:
    Jun 12, 2007
    Messages:
    31
    Likes Received:
    0

    Jun 14, 2007

    Pamms, that's very true. I try to get parents involved whenever I can. When I taught 6th grade, I didn't really go about that well. I had two volunteers and one was supposed to do filing in the portfolios and the other was supposed to make copies for me. I was still pretty new at teaching so I think I may have scared them off. I've gotten better about getting them into the classroom. But that's really the key! The more they understand the goals the more likely they are to help out at school and especially where we need them to help out HOME. The curriculum in Florida is becoming more and more geared to the FCAT and pressure has really stepped up each year that I've been teaching to achieve higher and higher scores. These scores are attached to my name and should I need to be considered for a job due to surpluses (I was a victim of that this year) then I want to have some good scores by my name. People don't understand that it's really the luck of the draw from year to year. But, we do know that kids that have parents who are supportive and positive about the school and the specific teachers do better on these tests. So, I make it a top priority to keep in close contact with the parents and get them in for fun things(participate in readers theatre, social studies themed pot lucks or crafting, science related experiments, read alouds, etc.) This is what they want to do- they want to feel directly connected to the successful implementation of curriculum. Boy, I feel like I've said a mouthful!
     
  25. ChangeAgent

    ChangeAgent Comrade

    Joined:
    Jun 1, 2007
    Messages:
    457
    Likes Received:
    0

    Jun 14, 2007

    A suggestion given to me by one of my cooperating teachers during student teaching was to give the students time to start homework in class any day homework was assigned. This would allow them to start and potentially find difficulties before leaving school and meet with the teacher to prevent frustration (and completely not doinf the homework) later.
     
  26. ayotte04

    ayotte04 Comrade

    Joined:
    Jan 8, 2007
    Messages:
    483
    Likes Received:
    0

    Jun 14, 2007

    AHB, i just read your comment about the sticky notes and love it. I'm going to try that out.

    Change, yes my master teacher said the same thing AND she said her turnin rate of hw the next day was always higher when she gave them even 5 minutes to start.
     

Share This Page

Members Online Now

  1. arbraum,
  2. futuremathsprof
Total: 308 (members: 3, guests: 287, robots: 18)
test