Monday, September 10, 2012

Stop with the homework already. They are KIDS!

It's way past  time for homework to go away. I've yet to hear a purpose that remotely convinces me that it supports learning in any way shape or form and if I have to hear one more time that it teaches responsibility I'm going to scream!

Years ago it was my first year in a new school, I was a 3rd grade teacher and the 3rd grade team had what they called "study hall" it was the consequence for not doing your homework. It meant instead of going outside for recess, you had to go to a classroom with the rest of the kids who didn't do their homework.. I didn't agree with this policy, I think all kids need to play, so I just never kept my kids in, but I did still have to take my once-a-week turn being in charge of "study hall".  The first time, I ran around the room encouraging every kiddo to fill in the blanks on their worksheets so they could get outside, then I walked them out to the playground so they could get to play for at least a few minutes . Boy, did I get  called on the carpet for that one! See "study hall" REALLY meant punishment, the students needed to miss ALL of recess so they could "learn their lesson". The rest of the year when it was my turn to cover, I talked to students asking them why their homework wasn't getting done.  (I also read to them or let them play games in my room after they knocked out the SUPER IMPORTANT worksheets)

The 3 most common reasons the students gave were:
I forgot my books/folders etc...
I didn't have time
I fell asleep

 Now how about the rest of the story for each of those reasons?

I forgot
 I ride the bus so I don't hop in a mini-van where my  mom has snacks and a juice box chilled for me and immediately goes through my backpack and makes me run back in and grab every little thing that I forgot, my mom/dad/grandma work so I couldn't come back in and get my stuff like Susie's mom does for her practically every stinking day")
I didn't have time 
My big/little brother/sister had a ball game/ballet/piano recital,we had church etc... I rushed after school to get ready to go, then I fell asleep in the car on the way home.
I fell asleep
I get off the bus, go get my brother from daycare, then I start dinner, give my little brother a bath and then I accidentally fell asleep on the couch. My mom didn't wake me up to do my homework when she got home from work. I'm sorry.

Some students just flat out have an advantage as far as homework (errr, life) goes. It is so not a level playing field if your folks can run you back to school to grab stuff you forgot. This happens all the time, kids know it, they see it, they resent it.

I can't stand seeing the group of early elementary age children huddled over textbooks on the bleachers of whatever ball season it is, plowing through homework instead of playing in the dirt, eating popcorn or laffy taffy, running around cheering for their siblings with their families. Even if families don't have any scheduled activity, the stress from students having mounds of homework have ruined many a family evening at my house and I'm sure at your house, too.

Let's not forget the students who are helping raise their siblings, helping their families survive and carrying adult responsibilities at an early age.  We just make their lives that much harder by piling on busy work to teach them (say this with me sarcastically) responsibility.

Others have made this case with more research and with more eloquence, but, this weekend, I saw a student at the grocery store.  She must be in her early 20's now, she was pushing a grocery cart with a toddler in it and a 4 or 5 year old walking beside her.
She ran up, hugged me and said, "Mrs. Shafer, do you remember me? I wasn't in your class, but I always had to be in study hall.  I loved when it was in your room because you didn't make me feel like I was in trouble, you just helped me and then read us Junie B Jones books so we could still have recess." I read Junie B to my boys now and they love her, too.

Stop with the homework already.  They are KIDS!

1 comment:

  1. As a teacher...I have never been a huge fan of homework.

    As a parent...I am not a huge fan of homework.

    You brought up many valuable points and put into words many of my feelings.