Saturday, August 06, 2005

Homework: It's Your Kid's Job, Not Yours

I have heard every teacher, including myself, lament over kids lack of consistency with submitting homework assignments. I have heard many teachers struggling over the decision to give less homework, no homework, or even voluntary homework. There are numerous books and theories regarding the importance of homework, and there are many school systems throughout the country who have tried to control the amounts and types of homework assignments. The Miami Herald's article, "Homework Experts: It's Your Kid's Job Not Yours," gives some suggestions as to how to increase student's productivity when it comes to homework. One suggestion is to "figure out your children's likes and tie them to successful school work. Then promise your kids that they can keep their GameBoy, iPod, television, sports, music -- or whatever they like doing -- as long as they finish their homework." This is a well traveled method of coercion, but does it help to build life long learners who take personal responsibility for their education. The article also quotes Barbara Byrne, who writes a column on parenting for the Miami Family Magazine, as saying "it is important for parents to keep track of grades and talk with the teachers on how the kids are doing." Here I pose my second question. Is this the proper advice? When a parent goes to the teacher to find out about a child's progress, does it not create a feeling of distrust between the parent and the child? Teacher's often receive calls from parents who are "checking up" on their child's progress. Is this the best method? Although the purpose of the article is to help parents motivate their children to do their homework, it seems to leave out the most important tool of motivation: that homework is important and valuable to the child. If parent's would help reinforce this important credo, kids may just buy into the fact that homework, or homelearning as teachers and administrators have been directed to call it, is important enough to do without threats and bribes.

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