September 19, 2012

I haven't abolished homework - I never gave any...

When I first became a teacher I felt a real internal struggle - I couldn't figure out what to give my students for homework. The system of assigning homework was so ingrained in me that I thought it was literally a job requirement.

So, I turned to fellow teachers who gave me worksheets, grammar practice, and links to websites to create word searches and crossword puzzles.


Most people would probably view my personality as more of a leadership role, but I know how to follow when I need. As a student teacher and a beginning teacher I felt a real need to follow, to fit in, to be a "Teacher." But, that's not me. It wasn't really me then, it just felt like the person I needed to be at the time, the face I had to put on for my own personal good.

Recently, John T. Spencer wrote a blog post about why he loves teaching and it struck me profoundly. I'm always trying to explain and qualify teaching to my friends and people who don't really understand what I do. But, as John describes, the reason that I love teaching is that I love teaching.

So, how do my students feel about the classes I teach? I always tell people that if they walk away loving what we do, that's about 80% of my job. But, you can't be doing it ALL THE TIME. That's where abolishing homework comes in.

Students need their time away from school work, away from being told what to do, away from having deadlines and sheets to fill in and essays to write. They need time to be students. Especially in the community where I teach - most students have multiple after school commitments that are non-school related every week. How can they balance that, homework, school work, family, and just plain regular fun?

Dump the homework, at least that's what I say. If you can give me some sort of logical reasoning as to why students NEED homework for their growth as learners and as people, I would love to hear it. If not, then I suggest you hop on over to this pledge sheet and put your name down on the list of teachers who are going to let students have their lives back.


John Spencer said...

Thanks for the post and the link. For me, the abolition of homework took a little longer. I felt like I was supposed to do it in order to have "high expectations." It took awhile to get to where I am right now on the subject.

Jeff Russell said...

When I first started teaching I felt like I wanted to jump on the bandwagon of "They're experienced and know what they are doing." I also had parents contacting me, confused by the lack of homework coming home.

It was reading blogs like yours that made me realize that I didn't really have a problem...