The Curse of Homework
Twitter and the blogosphere are always awash with different educational hot potatoes; Ofsted, (graded) lesson observations, performance related pay, the value of group work are all topics and themes from just the first 3 days of half term. However, beyond all of these, to me, there is one topic which has divided the views of teachers, parents and children since before I was at school in the 1970s and 1980s, homework.
As a teacher, I view homework as a Goldilocks issue. This is because for some parents there’s always too much, for others not enough and for the rest it’s just right. However, the bigger issue for me is the inverse relationship between the time and effort taken over setting, completing and marking it compared to the benefit for the learner. Traditionally set, worksheet; workbook; written; research; question and answering and memorising homeworks do not and, indeed, cannot meet the needs of every learner individually.
However, as a parent, I view homework as something which I need to support the school in my daughter completing, but see the way in which it impacts on her completing other activities – which often have as much, if not more educational benefit; baking, making, playing, etc. Having taught her to think for herself she can frequently find (better) learning opportunities for herself and so I have written notes into school explaining why she hasn’t completed the set homework and stating what she has done instead – complicated as I work at that school too!
This dichotomy and how it can be effectively tackled for all is what I will cover in the recently published book Unhomework: how to get the most out of homework without really setting it. Unhomework is the name for the method I use in my lessons, and as a parent to my 9-year-old, to break the drudgery of traditionally set homework.
If you know that this could help transform the experiences of your learners then follow me on Twitter @EP3577. Furthermore I will be running courses around the country through Independent Thinking Ltd where I will share these secrets with all attendees, I will explain how to implement Unhomework for yourself (as a teacher and/or parent) and demonstrate the difference it can make to the teacher and children. I will also be speaking at The NEC Education Show 2014 March 20th.
Unhomework will truly prepare our learners for their future lives by developing and embedding the skills that establish lifelong learning as a reality, not just a concept or a soundbite and I hope this is a journey you’d like to go on with your learners and me!
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