Just read a WONDERFUL article “Homework: An unnecessary evil? … Surprising findings from new research” I already knew this. Anyone who went to school with me knows how much I ABHOR homework and how little of it I actually ever did. I only received lower grades in the classes that required homework and used it as part of my grade (with Physics in HS and Chem II in college being the exceptions). My mom was a working mom and by the time I got home, ate dinner and then started on my homework is was always so late and I never got to spend time with my mom. I never got to enjoy being home during the week – I always felt rushed and stressed whenever I feel stressed I shut down and become extremely unproductive. So basically, homework helped me to be unproductive, unhappy and stressed.
My older son is a lot like me when it comes to his lackadaisical attitude towards homework. Don’t get me wrong, he likes to learn – no actually he LOVES to learn. But when he feels pressure, he gets just like I do and goes into his own little world and procrastinates on everything. This is the reason I’m completely horrified by my son having homework. He’s bright, inquisitive and curious, as pretty much all kids are. We should be fostering a love of learning, not a dread of busy work.
Seriously, other than school teachers, what profession has homework every day? What skills are we teaching them with it?
A perfect example of how unessential homework is, is the school system in Finland. Students do not have more than an hour of homework (in high school and virtually none in lower grades) and yet they have extremely high literacy rates and superb PISA test scores (the international tests to compare across different countries). They have an equal emphasis on PE and sports, music, creative arts, drama and cooking and believe that kids should learn world skills that help them be productive members of society rather than just achieving high scores on standardized tests.1 What an amazing concept, huh?
There was a really good write up about the Milestones That Matter Most in the Huffington Post that addresses this very thing. Interestingly, China has already started taking some cues from Finland and are taking steps to compete in “the global race to teach students the ‘new’ skills like collaboration, creativity and critical thinking“. In fact, it seems as though China is taking notes from the US’s old school book.
In a recent Facebook chat with some people, it became clear that learning to cook, doing taxes, learning how and why to vote, balancing budgets and general necessary life skills have been replaced with standardized testing and boat loads of homework. At the end of the day, I want my son to know how to work/play well with others by listening, collaborating and compromising, rather than competing and always pushing himself to win a race that really doesn’t exist and in the end the only real winners are those people that find balance and happiness in their lives.
What do you think the chances are that the US school system will catch up to the scientific research before my son gets to high school?