We’ve all done homework as students ourselves over the years. We’ve all complained about it and completed it. Now, as teachers, our students continue the dog-eating homework excuses and complain that it’s too much. What’s a modern teacher of the 21st century to do? Is homework (or at least hours and hours of it) a thing of the past?
One teacher this year made the news for canceling homework. She instead instituted a policy of giving students the extra time to spend it on life-giving activities. Spend time with your family, she encouraged them. Play outside. Read a book. Enjoy life and spend it with the ones you care about.
This caused lots of controversy. As well as nods of agreement and a wide show of support for her new policy. No homework? Was that like canceling school?
Many parents were refreshed at this change of pace. They could now appreciate their children and enjoy spending time with them. They could talk about what their children enjoyed learning about that day. They could read a book with their child and talk about what they read. They could talk about life and teach them lessons they learned themselves.
It is a refreshing way of giving the student more opportunity to view life as a learning journey that they are on. They can branch out and explore what interests them. They can breathe the fresh air. They can have important conversations with their parents and cherish the time spent with their family.
Other teachers have also considered this policy. For the traditional teachers who see the value of hard work and practice, this is a policy that may not make much sense. There is value in devoting time to your studies and being disciplined. It is very important to create an environment where the child is encouraged to learn and focus on their educational goals. Homework can be hugely beneficial in having students read, practice and apply concepts.
The key is to keep homework applicable. Make it directly related to what is going on in the classroom. Make it hands on. Think outside of the box. Encourage students to interview a family member or do a project of their choosing that allows them to explore their personal learning journey. Encourage them to write a journal or take part in a creative writing project that they can enjoy and improve their writing skills with.
It’s all about what is best for your students. Would homework benefit them where they are at right now? Will it allow them the time to read the material or practice a needed concept before reviewing it again in class? Or would your class benefit from an experimental hiatus from homework, where you encourage family time, reading and special learning projects they can take on independently? Volunteer work in the community? Reading to younger children after school or at the local library? Choose what would most benefit your class and watch them in wonder as they engage in new ways and walk further on their educational pathway than you thought possible.