Friday, May 8, 2009

Slow Schooling

Read this.

If I could give an article a standing ovation...

Here's the most important sentence:

"...a flotilla of research shows homework confers no benefit — enhancing neither retention nor study habits — until middle school."

Unfortunately, the folks who brought us "No Child Left Behind" (of course not, record numbers of them are in jail instead!!) weren't all that into the science and the research.

The idea that MG is going to have homework in just a year and a half kills me. What happened to childhood? On the one hand, we bemoan the fact that kids are getting themselves into adult trouble (sex, drinking, drugs, etc.) too early, but with the other hand we're pushing them into adolescent roles at age 5, and adult roles at age 10. DUH. What do we expect? This parenthetical remark made me laugh:

"Since adults are staying younger older — 50 is the new 30! — our children may soon surpass us in age."'s funny because it's true.

I'm very seriously considering a local charter school for our kids (assuming we can lottery into it). I wonder what their homework policy is. That will definitely be a question at the top of my list.

I don't honestly think we could survive homeschooling in our family, but I sometimes wish that we could return to the days when a (wealthy*) family would hire their own tutor to live with them and educate the children. That seems to make a lot of sense, and was probably a lot more "results based" than the current educational system! Because if I didn't like what the teacher was doing, I could fire him without having to move house and uproot my family! With the current public school system, it's not as easy to fire your kid's teacher, and you'd better have a really good reason, lest you become that parent.

Moms of school aged kids, teachers - talk to me about homework. What's going on in the schools right now, particularly in the middle of the country where things make infinitely more sense than they do on the coasts, from whence the article came.

* Has anyone else ever noticed that people who want to return to the good old days never want to be anything but wealthy? It's easy to forget that the vast majority of people "back then" - whenever "then" may have been - were living hand to mouth, barely getting by, and didn't have any money for private tutors. Still, this is my fantasy land so in it I am wealthy enough to privately educate my kids at home.


Cate said...

In this age of NCLB, nowhere does public education make sense any more.

I am SO against homework. It ends up being an equity question, I think, because the kid who has the solid home environment is the kid who gets the homework done, and so that is the kid who gets ahead in school, and chances are, that kid is already advanced because he or she has a supportive home environment. It's like homework is just compounding the problems for kids who have troubles. And it's not as simple as letting a kid stay after school to finish the homework assignments -- the kid with the non-supportive home will most likely not have the discipline to do that, so then it ends up being a punishment, and then we are reduced to punishing a kid, or at least delivering education in a punitive fashion, to a child because he or she has a crappy home life?

My mom is against homework because she feels like it just creates another thing to argue about; that it's just this issue that always causes problems and ends up being such a big deal if it doesn't get done. She said that from her perspective as a school psych, homework is the thing that kids, teachers, and parents argue about the most.

I have never given homework, and I have been criticized as a lazy or poor teacher by some parents because of that. But there IS always homework -- READING. Kids spend so much time in school working on the reading process that they barely ever spend any time just READING, and, honestly, even with all our fancy programs and techniques, the thing that studies show again and again is that the amount of time kids spend with their noses in a book, nothing fancy, just reading, directly correlates with how well they can read. So when a parent asks about homework, I say, "Please have your child read!" and it's seen as a cop out. BUT I am going to continue to toe that line because I believe in it, and I have faith that people in the government will come to their senses at some point, here, and quit making us do stupid, time-wasting, detrimental things in public education.

My suggestion? Find a private school! My contribution to the educational system is my work as a teacher; I'm not going to subject my children to it (once they get out of the Yup'ik Language Immersion school, which is pretty much like a private school, anyway). :)

Charlotte said...

My son went to all-day kindergarten down the street from you and the only homework he had was a letter-writing practice sheet that he got on Monday and had to turn in on Friday. Everything else he finished at school.

I didn't have a problem with that.

Anonymous said...

We need to get together and talk schools, my dear! I have some definite opinions and information about a couple local choices, if you would be interested.
Your favorite neighbor ;)

Rachel said...

Cate, you make some very good points!

In my experience teachers hate homework and parents hate homework yet the school system still insists we do it! Usually it is meaningless and is extra work for parents and teachers (as if either of those people don't have enough to do already).

I know of parents who do their children's homework assignments for them so that they get a good grade!

My Baby's Mommy said...

My neighbor has 2 kids and she is so lame! She thinks her kids don't have ENOUGH homework and so she gives them random assignments that she thinks they need.

They are so going to resent her!

Kathryn said...

I am pro homework. I truly do NOT believe that it doesn't make a difference until middle school. All experiences (good, bad, or otherwise)in a child's life have an impact on future performance. I am the first to admit that both my kids are probably a leg up on intelligence (not from me mind you)and we definately have a supportive home environment, but I don't believe that homework ends up being an equity question. Having experienced both the public and private education arena, I think that which you choose depends on the child (Kelly did great in public, Ian needed private) and not on their homework policy. I have seen several of Kelly's friends with both smarts and supportive home environment do poorly in school, and others with neither do well. I will say that the homework that Kelly didn't bring home that her friends did was b ecasue they did not use their time wisely in class and had to bring work home to finish it. She was NEVER swamped with homework in middle or high school like many parent complain about.

Just some things to think about. And now I must do what is the worst part of the private school route - go pick Ian up because he doesn't ride a school bus!

Mimi said...

I have to agree with Kathryn on this one. I have plenty of students with parents who don't care. Homework forces the "bad" parents to sit down and read with their kids. Otherwise those parents would never read with their kids. Sometimes it has to be dictated from the school. It's unfortunate but true. Good parents are always going to work with and educate their children. Bad parents need the school to tell them that it's necessary.