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Streetwise: How do you feel about the amount of homework students are assigned?

Original post made on Aug 13, 2010

With school starting in a matter of days, students are preparing to say "goodbye" to the carefree nature of summer and "hello" to studying and assignments. This week, Streetwise reporter Stan Wharton headed to Charlotte Wood Middle School to ask, ==B How do you feel about the amount of homework students are assigned? == To see the answers, click on the photos. Don't forget to share your opinion in the comments.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Thursday, August 12, 2010, 2:59 PM

Comments (18)

Posted by Kerry Dickinson
a resident of San Ramon Valley High School
on Aug 13, 2010 at 9:19 am

My kids have attended Danville public schools since they were in kindergarten and I have seen too much busywork and not enough authentic homework. By "authentic" I mean, real work that will help them in real life. Typically they spend hours (many nights) on work just to complete it, not work that has relevance and meaning to them. The new homework policy in the SRVUSD has helped some students, but not all. I write about topics like this, and parenting and education in general in my blog called East Bay Homework Blog. Web Link

Posted by Alamo resident
a resident of Alamo
on Aug 13, 2010 at 10:11 am

I totally agree with the comment above -- too much busywork, and too much pressure for parent involvement in that busywork -- especially in the middle school years.

Posted by V
a resident of Sycamore Valley Elementary School
on Aug 13, 2010 at 2:28 pm

I love the schools here, but there is definately too much parent involvement required. I work all day and when I come home, I have to look foward to another hour or so of involvment and support for my son's homework. When I was in school, parents didn't need to be involved because it was relevant work and the kids understood it from what they learned in class.

Posted by Sarah
a resident of Danville
on Aug 13, 2010 at 3:15 pm

way to much homework, an hour tops is what it should be, not all evening. there is no time for family. Let the teachers teach at school

Posted by Oh!riley
a resident of Alamo
on Aug 13, 2010 at 4:06 pm

I believe homework should reinforce what is taught in class. Countless times my child is given an assignment to learn a section in a book, then do homework based on that evening's reading. The homework is then corrected during class. Unfortunately this requires the parent to teach the lesson and answer questions in the evening (if the student has questions, etc) as opposed to the teacher teaching during class time.

Posted by Elaine
a resident of Greenbrook Elementary School
on Aug 14, 2010 at 6:43 am

Homework should be used as a tool to re-enforce what was taught during the day. Give the student 6 or 8 problems to confirm they mastered what was taught, grade it the next day to catch any red flags and then move on. I cannot stand it when my kids have 20+ math problems at night. They are tired and need down-time. I have seen it create a negative attitude towards a teacher or subject simply because the kids are resentful that they have to sit for another 1-2 hours and do busy work in the evening.

That said, I have noticed an improvement in the amount of work the kids are asked to do since my oldest child entered the school system in 2001. The homework policy which was adopted a few years back has been an improvement, in my opinion.
Some individual teachers could go a little further in reducing the amount of work expected to be done at home.

As a family, we strive for balance in our schedules. That even includes time alloted for chores and idle time doing nothing.

Posted by Bainter the Painter
a resident of Alamo
on Aug 15, 2010 at 7:18 pm

When I was a studant I thought homework sucked. I still think homework sucks. I liked to watch cartunes like Poopeye and Bugs the Rabbit, and sometimes 3 stoojes. I did not do my homework or go to school much, and it did me no harm. I like to paint things, bit sometimes I do not read so good. Oh well...

Posted by becky
a resident of Danville
on Aug 16, 2010 at 8:19 am

I remember being told by experienced teachers that homework should always have a purpose,to reinforce the lesson content. It should not be "busy work" or simply an art project for a science class...Yes, way too many of the assignments I see given for science are "color the pictures" which only serve to give good grades to those who "stay within the lines" but do not actually teach anything remotely connected to the lesson plan.

Homework that is constructive is good. Homework that is busy work is useless. Additionally, people do need a certain amount of time to properly process data, so it would be very helpful if all of the teachers in a school did not schedule their tests for the same leads to burnout and is not at all helpful..Plus it is an easy thing to avoid if you actually speak to your peers.

Please note that only interviewing the staff of Charlotte Wood re this subject presents a rather limited view. How about an elementary or high school view?

Posted by Terry
a resident of Danville
on Aug 16, 2010 at 8:23 am

PULEEEZ!! Between rainy-day sessions, teacher-learn-to-teach days, parent conferences held during the day (instead of after hours, like the old days) and the outrageous amount of homework these kids get, one must wonder what in the world these teachers actually do in the classroom? What and when do they teach? We are graduating functional illiterates when compared to the rest of the world. Mothers have to work outside the home just to get by, then they have to come home to unhappy and overwrought, over-pressured kids struggling to get their "homework" done. No wonder our divorce rate is 50%. Too much pressure on families -- How about teaching IN THE CLASSROOM and reinforcing what is supposed to be learned as homework? How about a bit longer school days to get work done? How about shorter summer vacations? Oh, I forgot..the Teachers Union would rebel. Our educational system is pathetic!!

Posted by Homework or art class?
a resident of Danville
on Aug 16, 2010 at 9:28 am

Why is there so much drawing and coloring homework required in middle school academic classes? How does it help a student to be graded on the quality of drawing & coloring an assignment? Sure, it's fun for some kids, but not every child is an artist and their skills should not count towards the actual grade. I've seen my own children (some who are better artists than the others) graded higher with the same submitted material. Fotunately, this doesn't seem to apply during high school, so I'm not clear on why this is such a big part of the middle school homework experience.

Posted by kim
a resident of Tassajara Hills Elementary School
on Aug 16, 2010 at 5:02 pm

My children, like most, spend most of the day at school. After snack and homework there is very little time for them to read, play, practice, rest or create. I also need to be involved during homework time so that I can explain the work to them. I sometimes wonder why they spend so much time at school during the day, when I need to teach them when they come home.

Posted by Mike
a resident of Danville
on Aug 16, 2010 at 10:04 pm

It is unfortunate that so many Danville parents feel that they don't need to be involved in the education of their children. Education is not compartmentalized. What children learn at home, with parental interactions and the values expressed by parents is equally important with what the children will learn in school.

Posted by Dan
a resident of Danville
on Aug 17, 2010 at 5:20 pm

I don't know about the SRV but given the dismal scores that were just released for CA schools someone needs to increase homework!

Posted by becky
a resident of Danville
on Aug 17, 2010 at 8:27 pm

Actually, Mike, I have no problem being involved in educating my children, however the problem I have is with work that is unrelated to the subject matter. Middle school children should not be coloring pictures for science, it is stupid and simply makes a cute picture. I think the fact that is done is because many middle school teachers are trained as elementary teachers and so are really geared towards lower level learning. That is unfortunate and I would prefer that only teachers with subject specific credentials be hired for science/math instruction.

Also, it is not a bad idea to have tests scheduled on separate days.

Posted by Sally N.
a resident of Danville
on Aug 18, 2010 at 7:33 am

Teachers in middle school are responsible for meeting the needs of all students. For some students, coloring a diagram in science is not a meaningful learning activity. But for others, it is a way to help the concept stick. In incorporating activities that address the learning styles of as many students as possible, teachers are putting MORE thought and time into curriculum development. It is not laziness.

As for homework, if a parent is concerned about the value of his or her child's homework, it's time to have a conversation with the teacher. There may be reasons for the assignments that parents, most of whom are not trained teachers, cannot appreciate.

Start a conversation. Ask questions. Be part of a TEAM in your child's education instead of just a critic. Think about the message you're sending your child about his or her attitude about work in general and how we communicate and address concerns.

Posted by Nancy
a resident of Alamo
on Aug 18, 2010 at 1:35 pm

My son just had his first day of senior year in high school - half day today. Came home with: 136 pages of reading for English, 36 math problems, a 19-pg. study guide to fill out for Government (with a test on it tomorrow), and an essay for another class. All of this from a half day/first day of school. The INSANITY begins! This is absolutely outrageous, and kids are expected to participate in sports and hold down part-time jobs at the same time, nevermind any community service - that is out of the question - there are simply not enough hours in the day. The teachers are unaware (or don't care) what the other teachers have assigned, and it it ludacrous!

Posted by Debra
a resident of Danville
on Aug 18, 2010 at 5:30 pm

There is actually very little correlation to how much homework kids get and how successful they are in school. We give more homework than any other 1st world country and our kids are not as well educated when they graduate from high school. Our education system emphasizes knowledge that is "a mile wide and an inch deep." Education that values deeply learning and analysis is totally lost these days. Just look at the AP courses, there is no humanly possible way to learn all the info thrown at the kids in these classes. The information is memorized and forgotten the day they take the tests!

Just ask the college profs at our higher institutions what the new students are like. They see kids that are unprepared to think and analyze. The kids still want to know what are on the tests, instead of really learning.

Posted by Sally N.
a resident of Danville
on Aug 18, 2010 at 9:19 pm

You make a very good point. But now we're not just talking about homework. The quality of education in this country and this state reflects our culture(s) and priorities, the structure of our school year, the standards (an enormous topic all by itself). Homework policies not working? A symptom of larger flaws in the system, I think.

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