In the December 17, 2012 New Yorker, Louis Menand writes about France's President having the power to abolish homework.
As a parent of a student who hates homework, I find it trying to stay on top of it for my son. As a teacher who tried to teach literature in a class where no one did homework, I found it trying to get anything done.
Where is the happy middle?
In Finland, "students there are assigned virtually no homework" and yet the country has the most successful educational system. South Korea, on the other hand, has the second most successful educational system yet it piles on the homework and their students are not happy. What can we learn from Finland????
With more excuses given for why students cannot do homework, I wonder why we don't investigate the methods of instruction used in Finland so our students can excel.
I am troubled that we seek methods of grading that allow students to pass a course without mastering the material. For example, grades are given (or not) for signed quizzes and tests. This is going on in my son's math class and I worry about his future. While I recognize that my son is not easy to teach, he is a test subject on why our educational system is having difficulty. He is a kid who doesn't ask questions, doesn't do homework or classwork, yet sits on the edge of passing. I think we can all agree that he is an at-risk student. However, since he doesn't meet the at-risk demographic, no real attention is given to his standing.
I would like to see data on why students are not doing well is subjects. Is it the test? Is it missing homework? Is it apathy? Is it a language barrier? Then, once this real information is gathered, I would like to see what can be done to help them. It's true that the state assessments have determined that my son cannot read informational text. I am concerned as both a parent and educator in why.
So, I come back to the idea of homework. My husband and I have requested that our son's teachers sign his planner (a pain, I know) so that we can stay on top of him and ensure that he does his work. It has been our experience that the homework given would help him learn. In fact, when he does the assigned work, his grades on tests improve. There -- a solid connection. However, that is what works for one student. He is a model for one type of child. What are we doing for those who do not improve even when they do the work? That's the data that we need to assess.