|megpie71 (megpie71) wrote,|
@ 2016-09-07 18:21:00
Parents, Teachers, Schoolkids and The Homework Thing
Just been reading through some back issues of "The Secret Teacher" on teh Grauniad website, and one of the issues which comes up repeatedly is "homework" - essentially, teachers think it's No Big Deal, parents either complain there's too much, or too little, and the kids always think there's too much.
So let's put homework attitudes in perspective. To start with, teachers do consider homework to be a normal part of life. That's because, for them, it is. They did homework as children in primary school, they did homework as teenagers in high school, they wrote essays and did private study as part of their university teacher training course-load as young adults, and now as full adults, they do homework on a regular basis in the form of lesson preparation and marking. So as far as the average teacher is concerned, homework is a fact of life, and something they consider to be part of the natural course of events.
Point is, for the majority of us, homework is something which stopped dead the moment we got out of formal education, at whatever age that happened to be. The majority of jobs tend to be things we can put away once we leave the workplace, whether that be a factory floor, a shop floor, a transit van, a hospital ward, or a plush corner office. For most adults, their job doesn't follow them home - indeed, the number of jobs where this does happen is rather limited and they tend to be predominantly in the educational or professional services sectors, or in cases of self-employed arts sector workers like writers, artists and musicians.
So the kid who grows up seeing Mum and Dad coming home from work, putting their feet up and relaxing, isn't likely to prioritise homework when they come home from school (which kids see as their "job", right up to the point where they graduate or quit). This is particularly the case where there isn't a family culture which models self-improvement as a good thing, or which places a value on being well-read, studious or getting good grades.
My own experience, as someone who was "academically gifted and talented" and came from a family full of people who would have easily fit into that label had it been present when they were going through school, is that I could pass classes without having to study or do the homework, so I never saw the point in learning the skills. Given I'm also in the first generation of my family which had universal access to university education, my parents weren't really able to explain too clearly to me why study and homework were important either - and they certainly didn't model the behaviour for me. I wound up learning study skills imperfectly and late when I first attended university.
There's also the issue that sometimes, the kids have a point when they say they're getting too much homework from their teachers, particularly in secondary school. Teachers, if the guideline says your students are supposed to have two hours of home study per night, then consider how many other classes the kids get per day, and do the basic arithmetic required to provide your subject's share of their two hours per night. Don't just dump kids with the whole two hours worth on a daily basis - because that sort of behaviour, more than anything else, makes kids turn off good and hard. (Here's some anecdata: the high school I attended during the 1980s had four class sessions per day. The guidelines said we were supposed to do two hours of private study each night, and so each teacher I had during a day would provide me with... yup, you guessed it, two hours worth of work. So that makes how many hours altogether? Exactly.)
As so often occurs, what truth and peace there is in the whole argument lies somewhere in between the extremes of it - or at least within the overlapping spaces in the argument's Venn diagram. Homework and home study skills are useful - but they're useful in the same way algebra, geometry, geography, and learning the finer points of diagramming sentences wind up being. Yes, they're massively useful if you're going into education as a profession; they're peripherally useful if you're thinking of going into an area where you'll need the practice at self-motivation, goal-setting, and meeting self-imposed targets. But for the vast majority of people, they're skills you learn in school, for school, and never need again throughout your working lifetime.
This entry was originally posted at http://megpie71.dreamwidth.org/67448.htm