If homework were to serve any useful purpose, it would seem to me that would be as a form of practice of concepts learned in class, to be used by the teacher as a further gauge of how well the student is grasping those taught concepts (although, in reality, I honestly can’t see how even this is justified, as such practice and gauging can and should take place within the confines of the school day).  And even this would not be an entirely accurate picture of the student’s abilities, as there are so many factors in the home environment that can skew kids’ ability to do homework efficiently and accurately – not the least of which is the fact that kids tend to be understandably both wound up and tired after spending 6 1/2 hours in school, the vast majority of that time during which they are expected to sit still; there can also be an array of other circumstances in the home environment beyond the control of anyone, despite schools’ demand that parents provide an optimal home environment for homework to be done.  Homework should definitely NOT be a way to cover material that there just isn’t time for during the school day; to utilize homework in that way places both children and parents in the position of setting up school at home and teaching/learning subjects and concepts on their own.  And that is foisting a dynamic on parents and their kids that neither signed up for.

My own school district’s homework policy describes homework as something that should “reinforce classroom learning objectives.”  I’m actually not quite sure what that means; it’s ambiguous and rather wide open.  What does “reinforce” mean in this context?  It could mean “practice” or it could mean learning new concepts that “build on” concepts learned in the classroom (“build on” is another term my school district uses in its homework policy).  What are “learning objectives” in this context?  Again, this terminology is rather open to interpretation.  And while being open to interpretation is not a bad thing in itself, when you leave a homework policy open to interpretation, it leads to a lot of confusion and argument.

In any event, assuming that most of the homework my kids are assigned is for practice of concepts learned in class, why is said homework then graded?  What is the point of that?  To reward them or penalize them for grasping or not grasping concepts?    Moreover, why in the world would any school district include homework as a subject up for grading on its student report cards?

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Why is there grading of events that take place at home under the parents’ authority?  This is not grading – or placing value – on learning; it’s grading and placing value on compliance and obedience.  This is bad enough; what makes it more outrageous is that it’s grading compliance and obedience that doesn’t even take place under the school’s authority.

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