I saw it with my own eyes. It happened in my own home. My three boys, beginning as early as first grade, were inundated with homework. Solve the thirty math problems on the photocopied handout. Copy twenty spelling words three times each. Write complete sentences for each of those twenty spelling words. Read three pages in a social studies book and answer five questions at the end of the section. Finish an art project started in class. Write a reflection on one of the commandments, or sacraments, or parts of the Mass. Memorize the times table so that it can be regurgitated verbally in under three minutes. Memorize the fifty states and their capitals. Oh,…. and have a nice weekend!
Parents whose kids went through catholic elementary school (and possibly public schools, as well) in the past twenty-five years know all too well the pain and anguish caused by an overload of homework. Teachers, pressured by administrators, who are pressured by more administrators, are driven by that wonderful educational term on which so many of these so-called professionals hang their hat: RIGOR. Gotta have rigor. We need to increase the rigor. Rigor translates into higher test scores. Higher test scores translate into academic success. Academic success translates into financial success. Financial success translates into happiness.
Watch this video, then ask yourself if, perhaps, schools in the United States might be barking up the wrong tree.
In my years of teaching, I gave very little homework. I saw what homework was doing to my kids, and to our family life. The stress level around homework issues was absolutely mind-boggling. Tears, frustration, confusion, anger, and late nights were common in our home. And I haven't even mentioned Science Fair projects!!! I didn't want to impose such stress on my students or their families. I had ample classroom time to allow effective learning to take place. Outside my classroom, I wanted my students to have a life. I was confident that they would learn more in their free time than they would ever learn from sitting at a desk, on their bed, or at the kitchen table doing homework assignments for the sake of doing homework assignments.
No doubt, there are those who will disagree with me. I'm okay with that. Differences of opinion are healthy. As I look back on my years of teaching, however, I am comforted in knowing that I did not overburden my students with homework. And I am grateful for those teachers, few though they were, who did not overburden my boys with homework. A significant amount of learning can and does happen outside the walls of the classroom. Unfortunately, many kids today don't have time to learn those important life lessons. They're too busy doing their homework.