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February 15, 2013

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I ended up talking about it with my students, to get their perspective. So much of the broad public discourse seems to be about how "overworked" and "overscheduled" kids are, but they flatly denied that this was really the case. They freely admitted having plenty of free time to do homework, and that only occasionally did they feel like they truly "didn't have time" to do it. However, they confirmed that they often didn't see the "point" in homework (a few tried to soften it by saying "except for your homework, Mr. G!") and I couldn't help but agree in many cases. I have noticed that with my crew, certain kinds of homework have a much higher return rate, but if the homework seems (a) redundant or (b) intimidating then it won't come back...the logic is obvious there.

There's no correlation between the amount of learning and the amount of work. There's a lot of correlation between the amount of learning and the type and quality of work.

It's been a looooonnnnnnng time, like maybe ten years, since I've assigned only the bare minimum of homework.

Here are my reasons:
1. Other teachers assign (I think) too much. It's busy work. It takes forever. Kids don't have enough time between 2:20 and bedtime to do it all.
2. Creating meaningful homework takes time.
3. Grading homework meaningfully takes time.
4. Given that teachers have almost no time to plan, I'd rather spend that time creating great class work and responding thoughtfully to classwork.
5. Many teachers have free time, a slow start to class, or show movies. I'd rather use every single second and assign no/little homework. There is no freetime in p-9, no holiday parties, and no movies. I'm no fun.
6. If anything, homework should be practice. It's not an appropriate tool for assessment or new learning. Practice should take only a short amount of time, or it's busy work.
7. If you have good management, you have a good chance of getting through the material in class. Bad management = "Well, we didn't get this done, so you have to do it tonight." That's either wasted time or bad planning, both of which can be avoided.

So I'm with you. I think the work they do in class is more authentic and more thoughtfully done. We can coach them through it. I'm not against homework in general, but I don't think it is learning, necessarily, and I think it's often not worth the time it takes to create, do, or grade it.

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