The Homework Myth
By the time I read Alfie Kohn's amazing book The Homework Myth, I was already in serious doubt about the necessity of homework or the value of it. Let's face it, we validate our own beliefs and philosophies when we become acquainted with others who share the same opinions, and then we go ahead to speak loudly about their beliefs. Suffice it to say, I did not rejoice over Mr. Kohn's research and assertions, but I was validated by it.
As an elementary teacher of several years I battled the homework element annually using all sorts of evil behaviorist tricks to manage and assure that homework was assigned and collected as efficiently as possible. In the end though, I hated it.
Why should I hate anything related to what I do in education? More often than not I found myself digging through books for homework, photocopying resource books, assigning reading that I could never prove really got done (even with parent signatures), and convincing parents that Johnny didn't pass the test because he didn't study. When, in reality, why does Johnny have to study something he doesn't care about and will forget about once the test is over anyway?
These questions left me with the realization that as a teacher, I was assigning homework to appease parents and administrators and not because I felt as an educator that homework had any value. Clearly, it doesn't.
Not only that, but homework brings anguish to the household in many instances. It serves to reinforce trivial skills and concepts that comprise the majority of what classrooms serve to teach, and doesn't, much to the belief of many, help children become more responsible or better managers of time.
Even those in mathematics, where many believe skills need to be practiced, are skipping by the larger idea that perhaps mathematics taught as procedural skill and drill drivel is, in and of itself, a pedagogical mistake (Catherine Fosnot who started the Mathematics in the City program has the needed reform in math education down to the letter).