Is Homework Working?

Lisa Mangione, 2003 fellow and member of the awesomest writing group ever, recently published an article in Kappan titled "Is Homework Working?" Here's an excerpt:

Unfortunately, the students who most need the practice and discipline of self-guided assignments are the ones who just never do them. The fact that we continually penalize these students baffles me. During the school day, they are the ones for whom you stand on your head, devise rewards, and do whatever works - all in a futile attempt to motivate them. Still, we expect these same kids to skip home, plop down at a kitchen table (where I assume a wholesome snack of milk and cookies is waiting), and spend an additional two or three hours poring over what they refused to do earlier. Interesting logic. We may think that grading homework sends a message that it isn't optional, but the fact is, the students who are most at risk will almost always opt out.

Follow the link and have a read. Feel free to discuss the comments in the comments section of this post.


Joel said...

Interesting points Lisa. I rarely, if ever, give nightly homework assignments. However, I am a big proponent of projects in the classroom. I give my students plenty of time to work on writing assignments and projects, but the expectation is that they be reading outside of class and that homework is an extension of the classroom. In other words, they need to continue working on drafts at home.

In this ubiquitous information age we live in, I don't see what the alternative is. Should I rely solely on tests? Or is it more important that we give our kids opportunities to grow and learn by creating with the information?

What is the solution?

Big Joel said...

Although I agree that some students resist homework with the energy of a thousand suns, the "no homework" movement completely perplexes me. It strikes me as the inmates running the asylum. As a high school teacher, I can't see how we're helping students by limiting work to the classroom. Can you see an employer doing anything comparable?

It seems that the "ubiquitous information age" that (the other, or am I the other) joel mentions suggests the opposite direction. Wi-fi, laptops, iPhones and the like allow generation plugged-in to work wherever they are, not just in a set environment. Our job as teachers is to devise homework that takes advantage of this environment, in my opinion (and agreeing with joel - I think).

Does it matter if the student has a learning disability or is just lazy?