November 28, 2012
Homework Should Be Optional
Posted by John Spencer
I don't agree with homework. I've written my reasons why before, but it mostly comes down to a question of who "owns" a child's free time. To me, that time belongs to the child and to the parent. I think that the coercion of homework is what kills the motivation in even the best-crafted homework.
Not everyone agrees with me. So, for those who think homework is necessary, I'm thinking they should have a right to make homework the norm in their own home. If parents are not given the freedom to dictate the pedagogical choices at school, why not let them dictate the learning that happens within their own homes?
Some say that homework is necessary, because it provides a great chance to practice skills. Makes sense. Perhaps seven hours of school really isn't enough for some kids. If that's the case, let parents practice those skills with their own kids in their own context. If it really is about helping struggling students, why not let the parents and struggling students decide?
Some say homework is a great chance for bonding and learning and enrichment. That wasn't the case in my childhood. My best home learning memories involved catching on to fractions while cooking or talking politics at our dinner table. But if parents want enrichment activities, I'm okay with teachers suggesting some optional activities.
Ultimately, that's the idea. Homework shouldn't just be well-crafted. It should be flexible and context-based. It should be a tool that parents can choose to use if they find it necessary.