Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Homework - A Question of Equity?

cc flickr photo by azjd

This is the type of post that will likely get me in trouble.

We have spent a lot of time on homework tonight.  Math problems, writing paragraphs, and a social studies worksheet.  Checking problems, correcting spelling, adding punctuation, and looking up definitions.  Encouraging.  Prodding.  Maybe even a bit of threatening (not proud of that).  I am a little frustrated, and my daughter is no longer speaking to me.  

As you might guess, I am not a fan of homework.  I have doubts about the value gained for the time invested.  I don't like that my daughter spends her day at school, only to come home and do more school work.  Homework consumes the time that we have to spend as a family, and it limits opportunities for my daughter to pursue her interests -- music, art, acting, etc.  The sad thing is that I probably don't invest the time, helping her with assignments, that I should (my wife assumes the bulk of that responsibility). I could do more.

Don't get me wrong, I don't blame teachers, or schools, or principals.  Homework is a product of the system (albeit, a system that in many ways hasn't changed in decades--even centuries).  But, when I consider the amount of time, and arm twisting, that goes into our nightly homework routine, I worry about the kids who don't have anyone to help.  No one to encourage.  No one to prod.  Not even a little bit of mild threatening.  It seems to me this is a pretty significant equity issue.  Homework is setting those students up for failure.  It's asking a lot of many kids who face unstable, uncertain, and chaotic home lives.

I certainly don't have the answer(s) to this problem, and I am sure that one can come up with valid reasons for assigning homework.  I guess my hope is that we are considering the diverse needs, abilities, and support systems of ALL students when we make those assignments.  I hope that for every assignment, there is a clear purpose, and a plan to support those kiddos that need it.  

For my family, things will work out.  Chances are, my daughter will be talking to me again tomorrow.  And, she'll have more homework tomorrow night.       

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