Tuesday, September 16, 2008

My views on homework

In my own experience, I haven't always been bothered by homework.

During grade 1, we wouldn't get homework, unless we really wanted to do it. At the school I went to, grade 1/2 were together, same as 3/4 and 5/6, though there were several classes of each. So grade 2's would get homework, but were not expected to always complete it, and it was easy stuff. Then came grade 3/4, same as grade 2, but they expected us to complete it and it was slightly more involved.

Grade 5 got interesting, we actually were given proper homework to do but the only punishment would not be getting a sticker on the wall for our homework completed. I found that funny, so I quickly learnt I didn't need to complete it. I was fine without it.

I didn't go to grade 6 -- I moved states and here grade 7 is still in primary school so I was moved into that instead. However at this new school, grade 7 was far more challenging.

We would have our weekly homework which involved an english sheet which often didnt teach us that much and required a bit of time to complete. Why did they try to teach us latin roots? Then we would have 2 pages of homework to do. We had to write a few brief overviews of news stories, complete the repeated from class maths, write out our spelling words then fill in how much we have read of books that week.

That was every week

Oh - and we also had to complete any Japanese homework we were given, and some other.

Every second week, we would have to complete a few paragraphs on the topic (whatever they chose) and occasionally do a speech on it. It started adding up to a lot and there was always that fear of "Oh no, I think something is due today".

I think that specific school was too strict. They expected too much of us and pushed us hard. We weren't even allowed to write with pens, and we had to use cursive. I didn't like that school. Slip up once and your guaranteed 30 minutes off your lunch. Infact I was kept back in for a lunch and a half because my homework wasn't set out correctly... and that was in the second week of school.

They wouldn't realise it, I didn't back then, but a lot of the work they give is busywork. I didn't think there was a point at writing out all of my homework again just because I set it out incorrectly. But, right now I could probably give good reasons and get out of writing out an hours worth of homework. An 11 year old has great difficulty being able to make well thought reasons so of course I had to do it back then.

Finally, after that year I was out of primary school. Then came grade 8. If you thought grade 7 was bad, you should have seen grade 8.

It was very easy.

We could use pen, we didn't have to worry much with setting out, the teacher wouldn't go psycho because we didn't write completely perfect and our homework was atleast halved. Although we still had weekly homework, it was much easier and didn't require as much effort. I still count much of it as busywork but I still hadn't realised that back then. Now if you thought grade 8 was easier.... grade 9.

Homework slowed down completely in grade 9. I don't remember having it(or more than 10 minutes for the week) for atleast half the year. Our maths was no longer checked and we stopped having to complete it all. I wasn't forced to study japanese, so that cut out a nice deal of homework.

English still has weeklies, like it does now(infact, same class as back then) but they weren't always given or checked, and nothing really happened if you didn't do it. There was only one term where we were given an english textbook to complete for assessment. About 95% of it was busywork, irrelevant, or an ineffective method of teaching, and 100% of it was a pain.

Grade 10, I have already talked about it. It is similiar to grade 9 but often even less homework.

So, I have learnt that the best option is to have barely any homework. I don't count assignments as homework even if they have to be completed at home, only extra work given by teachers. Not work you didn't do in class that you feel important to catch up on either, but just work set by teachers specifically to do at home.

I think that smart students are capable of completing whatever they need to at home as their own study. Not be given work by teachers which are designed for the majority. Infact homework isn't even designed for the majority, they are just what teachers think students may benefit from. The best way to go is to choose what you need to do.

Even if homework is continued to be set, I believe that there should be no consequences for not completing it.

I've said some of this before I know, but I hope I explained what I actually think better now without just ranting about how I don't want to write out spelling words.

I've also said this before, work does not equal learning. Even if it appears to be a task which requires thinking (such as reading comprehensions, wordsearches, crosswords, filling in the blanks on text, etc).

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