Tuesday, February 27, 2007

What's Wrong With Homework?

I wonder what would happen if every teacher reading this, or every business person, were to leave his or her work behind at the office each day?

Many of us would not be able to function at an optimum level if we were to work only in our classrooms and offices without bringing something home occasionally

This is a fact of life. And it is a fact of life that our children ought to understand and be prepared for. The way we prepare them for this work ethic is through homework.

I have read several blogs by teachers concerning the incessant interruptions during class and they wonder how the students can learn. Students are routinely separated from their classes to attend special instruction. There is constant movement and it must be difficult for students to keep focused.

When I was in elementary school, we had homework. We had homework every night and that included something over the weekend, usually concerning current events for Monday (I started reading the New York Times in 1st grade). The time needed to complete these assignments was according the the grade. I think we had a half hour for first grade and up to about 90 minutes for sixth grade. We even had homework during some holidays. These assignments ranged from coloring, pasting pictures, spelling, arithmetic, memorizing poetry, book report, to art projects. And there was always something to read! While we always complained about homework, we all did it because it was expected.

This was my job as an adult in training; I was supposed to learn in order to become an educated and responsible individual.

My education did not stop in the classroom.

My whole family was involved; my mother, father, and older brother helped out, corrected, or at the very least, looked over my work before I went to bed to make sure it was neatly done. Some teachers required the parents to actually sign off on the homework! Most times I managed to get more accomplished on my own time than in the classroom. (This is true even today in my work life!) I enjoyed the solitude and the chance to organize my time. I also understood when one of my parents had to work on a project at home.

Additionally, I had a sense of individual responsibility and accomplishment. Homework can foster an appreciation and respect for the work ethic, good study habits, and discipline involved with independent study.

I remember I was in a study circle from first grade on and I worked on my homework and projects with a group of friends. It was not unusual for me to be found in the school or neighborhood library after school or on Saturday involved in research. Oh! What I could have accomplished with a computer! (Everything in those days was handwritten and penmanship was a priority. Mine is still very much like the copperplate script taught by Miss Fastenburg and subsequent teachers; the direct result of homework!)

And yet, with all of this homework, I still managed to be a part of extra-curricular activities, music lessons, dancing lessons, sports programs, and caught Dark Shadows on TV every day! Many of my classmates also attended religious or foreign language classes after school. Others worked alongside their parents in shops. However, in my neighborhood, our academic life came first; this was a given.

Despite all of this, my childhood was a fun-filled, pleasant one!

So what's the problem here?

Elementary education sets the tone for the future academic life of each student. Teaching children how to be self-disciplined and to acquire solid study habits is beneficial throughout his or her entire academic and business career.

Are we teaching our children that education is only a 9 to 3 activity? Are TV programs, IPODS, computers blogging, video games, and other pursuits more important? Should we cave in to all the soccer moms and dads who over appoint their children?

No wonder, we're falling behind most other countries, not to mention home schoolers!

What does the future hold for these students?

Oh gosh! It's 7:40 PM and I still have some work to do.... (Oh yes, I still make time for NCIS, Law and Order, and this blog!)

The Educational Tour Marm

1 comment:

Polski3 said...

Saw your comment over at the EdWonks.....good blog post about the value of homework. I guess too many American students believe they are entitled to ignore requests from the school in favor of their own narcissistic forays....