The Homework Debate
Before I start, one caveat: I have absolutely no research to back up any claims here. Everything will be anecdotal.
Good. That part is over.
Recently, I participated in a spirited #edchat where proponents of the yes-homework and no-homework sides fervently made their cases. The debate was energized and, at some points, quite tense. Like after any great chat, my mind continued whirring long after the last comment.
I give students homework, and I will continue to do so. Here is why:
1. Homework provides practice. My homework consists of spelling and math practice. Students benefit from repetition in these two subjects. As the SpellBowl coach for ten years, I saw the value of having students write their words multiple times. I’m sure this is appalling to some educators, but it works. I’ve seen it many times. Math is often the same way. Practicing the content from class helps students do it automatically the next day.
2. Homework connects parents to my class. As a father of a second grader, I like to see homework because it gives me an idea of what she is working on in class. I can quickly see what she finishes confidently and what she needs to practice. It’s another communication tool between teacher and parent. In my classroom, I ask parents to check and help students correct homework, and I send home answer keys to help. This gives students a chance to have one-on-one attention as they practice.
3. I don’t buy the classic no-homework arguments. I’ve heard, “They’ll just copy,” “Their parents will do it,” and “They don’t turn it in anyway.” Are these statements true for some students? Yes. Does that mean we should eliminate this learning opportunity for all students just because some don’t do it correctly? Of course not. That would be like saying, “Well, everyone’s not going the speed limit, so we’ll just get rid of it.” Absurd.
4. Students have time. They do. If you’re giving a reasonable amount of homework (15-30 minutes), they have enough time. Now, that being said, in my classroom, students are expected to do their homework each night, but I don’t collect it until the week is over. This allows any student who has a wild night of dance lessons or football practice to catch up.
Again, no research, but it makes sense to me. What do you think?