The dog ate my homework, along with my desire to ever do any. I was an avid avoider of homework and my final high school year’s results were a reflection of my dedication to avoidance.
In short, I flunked.
But hey! I turned out all okay. I right good and stuff, and know how to make a packet cake using metric cups. I am capable of getting from point A to point B in once piece and generally on time.
I can form opinions based on fact and on different degrees of outrage or empathy. Homework? Who needs it?
Funnily enough though, on my desk right now is a half-finished project on The Daintree Rainforest. There is also a detailed one-page sheet about what should be included in the project, as well as how it will be graded.
It has been sitting on my desk for a fortnight, and is due in this week. It is consuming my every waking minute.
It is my Year 4 son’s homework. Along with daily spelling, comprehension, maths and reading. All in all, it takes up to 3 extra hours each week to get through. It pisses me off, it pisses him off and it brings me back to the time when I was in Primary School. After the bell rang you were to go outside to “play” until you were called in for tea.
No playing now. It is homework time, lads!
I know that there is an argument that homework is good for self-discipline, setting goals and reaching your dreams, blah blah blah, but new research has shown that our kids get too much of it, and it is of little consequence to their overall learning.
Oh yeah? Says who?
Say Australian Academics Mike Horsley and Richard Walker, who state:
“There’s a lot of disagreement, I have to say. But the consensus findings would essentially be homework’s not very beneficial for primary school kids, [has] very limited benefits for junior high school kids, and reasonable benefits for senior high school kids.”
Reasonable benefits for Senior High School kids? Well, I think I agree here. I recall watching my high school mates studying their butts off for two years while I ate Milo and enjoyed such theatrical brilliance as The Bold and the Beautiful and Beverly Hills 90210 while lying on the couch.
The they time spent behind their books paid off academically. And, I suspect, financially as well. It is called DRIVE. Some kids have it, and some do not.
“Where parents are over-controlling or interfering in their student’s homework activities, then that’s been shown pretty clearly to not be beneficial.”
I went to a boarding school and had no one looking over my shoulder making sure I had done the tasks assigned to me. My excuses grew more outrageous with each passing week until, at some point, I think all my teachers got together and decided that I would make my own path in life, and stopped nagging me.
Although not often, I do wonder what I could have done – had I been pushed.
The approach I took to my own homework is the one that I pass onto my kids now. I call it… Casual.
But am I doing them a disservice with my slack-ass supervision?
Ask parents of high school students how much homework their children get, and the answers vary from an hour to three hours per night. Which might have something to do with the rise of Teen Stress and the growing industry of Teen Stress Management Therapy.
Just a hunch.
Professor Horsley is of the opinion that it should be the quality of tasks set that teachers should focus on, rather than the sheer quantity. Walker agrees, suggesting that homework should be a more social and collaborative experience, not rote learning done in isolation.
If homework had more of a social slant on it, I might have felt myself to be slightly more inclined to get involved.
Homework is a contentious issue. More and more schools are establishing their own homework policies, which reads with high level blah such as:
“Homework is a valuable part of schooling. It allows for practising, extending and consolidating work done in class. Homework provides training for students in planning and organising time and develops a range of skills in identifying and using information resources. Additionally, it establishes habits of study, concentration and self-discipline.”
TAKE THAT, FIVE YEAR-OLD!
Do you think children get too much homework? What is the situation like at your place?
MORE STORIES BY MRS WOOG
*About Mrs Woog: “I can be found in the laundry, folding laundry, sorting laundry and dropping off the dry cleaning. I am mum to two boys, boss of my husband and master of a cat and two guinea pigs. Come nightfall, I watch TV while tweeting which drives Mr Woog insane. I like to read cookbooks and eat out. During my waking hours I ferry kids around in the Mazda while drinking takeaway coffees and listening to talkback. I think about going to the gym every day. I used to work in the publishing industry before I realised it was nothing like Elaine Benes from Seinfeld made out like it was. Now I write this blog. And I never get writer’s block. It is a gift I have.” You can follow me on Twitter: @Woogsworld.