Over the past few days I’ve spent several hours reading 8 blog posts at The Faculty Room debating the pros and cons of homework. So many opinions, so many comments ! (100+ across the posts). If you’re interested in the debate I suggest starting with the wrap up post and then going back to the beginning if you want more detail (If you can’t read them all, don’t miss the post by Alfie Kohn).
I can really only comment on what I see happening at the elementary grades as that is where my children are. I would definitely be on the “no homework, please” side of the debate. I would much prefer to use home time for other activities or for relaxation. So far we’ve been lucky in that homework really has been light enough that it has not interfered with our other pursuits.
So why a post about homework in this blog? Because I can’t help but wonder if what “pro-homework” parents are really looking for is a connection to what is happening in the classroom. I wonder if the desire for homework is really a desire for some sort of accountability…it is “proof” that our teachers are teaching and our children are learning.
If what we are really looking for is connection then communication is key. How can we use technology to fill this need for a connection to what is happening in the classroom?
What if teachers took the time used for preparation and marking of homework to provide parents with communication specific to the progress of their child? A once-a-week email hi-lighting progress toward outcomes with information on how parents can help their child if they are falling behind, or challenge them if they are working ahead of the class.
How about using blogs and wikis for language arts and encouraging parents to read and comment?
What if teachers could use a learning management system that provides controlled access to assignments, grades, messages, even audio and video clips? (here is one example)
I know there are lots of ways to use web tools for homework, but what if we used those tools for what we really want during the early years – connection and communication – instead?