An acquaintance recently contacted me to talk about issues she’s having with her child and homework. She wanted to know what I’ve done to deal with homework. She has a daughter in grade school who has recently been diagnosed with a learning disability, and homework has become a nightmare – it’s just too much for her daughter after being in school all day (which, really, I think can be said of the majority of kids, learning disability or not).
So, I told her what I’ve done. I told her all about the battle I took on last year with the district, and how I didn’t get anywhere, and how finally at the beginning of this school year I just put my foot down and wrote each of my kids’ teachers a letter setting down the limits I was going to stick to with regard to my kids’ homework.
Consequently, she landed in a back-and-forth with her daughter’s teacher. She tried setting down limits, but apparently the teacher wasn’t willing to budge, making all the usual arguments about the value of homework, blah blah blah.
In the end, apparently the teacher has decided to just have this student complete the homework assignments at school. I’m not sure what this means – is the student therefore missing recess or other instructional time in order to complete homework assignments during the school day? I mean, how is the teacher managing to fit this into this student’s daily schedule?
My real question, though, is: what is the point of this? If “homework” is not actually being done outside of school, then it’s not homework, it’s extra school work. And that raises the question: what is the value of homework anyway, for crying out loud? The usual arguments in favor of homework say that homework is reinforcement for material learned in class, that it teaches good study habits and responsibility. Well, if “homework” is being done at school, doesn’t that invalidate those arguments?
There seems to be this belief that simply the act of doing schoolwork in a setting outside of the walls of school has intrinsic value. I say BS.