http://danvillesanramon.com/print/story/print/2008/02/29/homework-vs-family-time


Danville Express

Perspective - February 29, 2008

Homework vs. family time

Some parents in the San Ramon Valley Unified School District have been instrumental in the formation of a Homework Task Force. The group includes parents, teachers and staff, and it is charged with reevaluating the district's homework policy.

The debate comes up when children are too stressed and busy with their homework to enjoy family time. Some parents also observed that often homework seems to be busy work, with no redeeming value, and questioned whether this contributes in any positive way to their children's education.

Students, and their parents, will become less frustrated with homework if it truly helps the learning process. Teachers should verify its importance by evaluating the finished assignments rather than just checking off their completion. Also teachers must be sure students understand the assignment so they and their parents aren't frustrated as they try to figure it out.

The district already includes these points in its homework policy, directing teachers to provide "homework of high quality and reasonable quantity" and to give students "timely feedback concerning homework which has been returned." Perhaps the problem is in the implementation of the policy; maybe some teachers find this part of the policy is unrealistic for them, time-wise.

Other things are not in the policy and should be addressed. For one, the guidelines should direct teachers to coordinate assignments so students are not overwhelmed on any one night. Also, while homework seems a sensible way to establish good study habits, is this assumption correct? Do students need to enter college with this skill ingrained or will they learn it along with the other skills of independence, such as eating, sleeping and going to classes without being monitored?

Now that technology keeps a world of information at our fingertips, we must constantly reevaluate the educational process itself. What does it mean "to learn" in 2008? What do our students need to be taught to secure their futures? The most important thing is to keep our students engaged in learning. How best can homework help with this goal?

Comments

Posted by Scott McMurry, a resident of Charlotte Wood Middle School
on Mar 12, 2008 at 10:35 am

Help. Give me back my family. All 4 of our kids have been overwhelmed with too much homework from the SRVUSD district in junior high and high school. God forbid we should try to have a family meal, mid week church, or heavens, do an outside sporting,scouting, or charity activity.

My brother is a principal in Wisconsin and their school day is about 50 minutes longer during which kids get more homework done in school be it study hall, labs or class.

Sometimes the homework sparks a question or discussion about war, or politics, or science or history, and my answer is, "we don't have time for meaningful conversation, just get the assignment done".

We set the timer during dinner and tell them, okay. 20 min on dinner is enough, back to your homework the kitchen is now closed. Oh and breakfast-what's faster, oatmeal or an egg- my kids can eat both in one minute flat. Sorry if there is food on my kids homework; they do homework while they eat.

My kids have to do homework as we drive back and forth in the car from school to activites. I say, don't tell me how your day was just get your homework done. I am tired of being the homework czar. They go to bed at 1030p most nights. I find those teachers without kids are the least sensitive to overwhelming us with homework.

Am I smarter than a 5th grader? I don't know; we're too busy with homework to find out....

Scott McMurry
Danville




Posted by Oxymo Ron, a resident of another community
on Mar 12, 2008 at 4:29 pm

An ultimate oxymoron has been created!

Dear neighbors,

A judge has declared that home schooling is illegal unless the teacher is certified by the State. Then I read a reference from SRVUSD teachers' prep manuals that homework should be no greater than 1.5 times the classroom time. Thus, home schooling is mandated by the schools and their teachers with the parents being responsible for 150% more of the educational activities of their students.

Now remind me once again, "Why do we have schools if the majority of education is to happen at home?"

Next thing we know, the parents will be required to join the teachers' union. As if we haven't paid enough dues!

OX, and I am smiling!

One HAL of a Pal