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Courtney Langton

Courtney is an aspiring high school teacher. Her teachables are History and English, but she's happy to teach anything that doesn't involve numbers or formulas. Her particular interest is in promoting gender equity and anti-oppression both in and outside the classroom. She writes a detailed To-Do list every morning, and enjoys nothing more than a good book and a plate of bacon on a rainy Saturday.

Jonathan Wong

Jonathan's primary interest is moral education. His teachable subjects are English and Music. He encourages critical thinking and hopes to teach his students to recognize, and strive for, what is truly important to them without forgetting to be compassionate, tolerant, and open-minded along the way. He likes making analogies and his favourite is one that compares life to jumping on a trampoline.

LINKS: Blogger
Canadian Chalkboard
Coffee, Calculations and Colombia!
Mewlings
Progressively Unnecessary
TeacHer Finance
It's Not All Flowers and Sausages
So You Want To Teach?
Classroom Confessions
Teach Hub
Web English Teacher
Blogging the Renaissance


ARCHIVES: June 2009 July 2009 August 2009 September 2009 October 2009 November 2009 December 2009 January 2010 March 2010

RE: The Homework Question
Wednesday, July 29, 2009

When I sat down to think about this issue and what my opinions on it were, I found that my reaction boiled down to one specific viewpoint: Yes, of course children should have homework. Homework is and always has been a part of life and they need to learn to do it just like everyone else.

My initial thoughts on the situation, which I am still inclined to stubbornly defend, must be challenged and questioned. That's what we're here to do, right?

So, is it really so important for kids to have homework? What are the benefits of homework? Is homework essential to the furthering of in-class studies, or is it simply an exercise in building character? And, since most adults don't actually bring work home on a regular basis (except teachers, woohoo), is homework really essential to a smooth transition into responsible adulthood?

In the end, I have to agree with what Jon and our amazing lone commenter, Ashley (we love you!) have pointed out. Yes, Alfie, in your wonderful world of unicorns, rainbows, and lollipops, kids should not have to do any homework. But in the real world, which tragically contains far fewer rainbows and lollipops than 5-year-old me could ever have anticipated, and NO unicorns at all, this just doesn't fly (much like those aforementioned non-existent unicorns).

Teachers in Ontario (and I think it's fair to assume virtually everywhere else) just don't have the time and resources to cover everything they need to in class. And honestly, I really don't think they should. Yes, it's frustrating to go home with an assignment and not know what's going on; this happens to kids often-- but that's why teachers mark homework or do in-class reviews to ensure everyone's understanding. Ultimately, isn't there a value to retreating into one's own space and drawing one's own conclusions independent of the classroom and teacher? As any former student could attest, you think about things differently in different environments. Something might occur to you while reading at home that will dazzle your teacher the next morning. Personally (though this may just attest to how great my family is, not the quality of my homework), I enjoyed bringing up an issue we had studied in class at the dinner table and learned of my parents' experience and opinions on it. It gave me a different perspective and honed my debating skills. That's learning right there, isn't it?

I don't think that we or any other truly caring teachers out there would assign homework for no reason at all. Teachers are as psyched as the students when they get to announce, "No homework tonight!" It means less marking and (probably) less resentment from the kids in the morning. A break from homework is important, if only to give all involved a much-deserved break. If the kids have done exceptionally well during school hours, it's fair to reward them with a night off. And if the students finish their homework in class, naturally there is no justification to pile them with more homework for the sake of character-building.

I do agree with Alfie that certain situations should be tailored to certain learners. In the Ontario high school system, students who are not planning to pursue a College or University education are not given the same amount or type of homework as those who do plan that particular future. As teachers, it is our responsibility to be aware of our students' strengths and weaknesses. Fair does not necessarily mean equal. But we're not superheroes, and we're going to assign homework where we see fit in order to meet the challenges of the curriculum standards.

This debate is never really over, especially not with only three voices contributing to the discussion. I can think of about twelve more arguments and anecdotes relevant to the homework question, but you've all still got summer-brain and we've gone on long enough! We'll revisit this subject as often as we can. It will be particularly interesting to see whether our opinions change when we're the ones responsible for marking 97 grade 10 essays...



P.S. - I've already dibsed "MOR HMWK" as a future vanity license plate, so no one's allowed to steal it or I'll hunt you down. I do know your license plate number, after all.

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Courtney posted at 9:17 PM - Comments (2)

2 Comments:

Haha! Thanks Courtney! I love reading the posts here and I definitely look forward to meeting you and Jonathan in September (potentially).

You also add a very good point to the topic in saying that most teachers enjoy telling a class that "there is no homework for the evening."

If you get "MOR HMWK" then I'll get "LSS HMWK".

Have you guys considered joining the 20 Something Bloggers network? It's a fantastic site and there are plenty of people to connect with. You can find it at http://www.20sb.net

By Blogger Ashley, at July 30, 2009 at 9:34 PM  

I can't believe I just saw this comment today! Sorry about that.

Thanks so much for the tip about 20 Something Bloggers! I just signed us up and I can't wait to join some of the teaching groups on there.

We'll definitely have to meet up in September. I'm sure you'll have some classes with Jon though since you're both in music!

It's interesting though, Jamie Huston mentions in his 50 Thigns New Teachers Need To Know that it's important to have lots of marks for each kid so that they can track their progress and so you can proove your/your students' work to parents and administrators. I hadn't even thought of it that way. If you check out his archive (or at least ones tagged under education), he goes more into depth about his thoughts on homework.

By Blogger Courtney, at August 5, 2009 at 8:48 AM  

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