Banner
    Banning Homework: Smells of French Cheese
    By Enrico Uva | October 18th 2012 09:22 AM | 42 comments | Print | E-mail | Track Comments
    About Enrico

    I majored in chemistry, worked briefly in the food industry and at Fisheries and Oceans. I then obtained a degree in education. Since then I have...

    View Enrico's Profile
    When it comes to homework, French President François Hollande said "it should be done during school hours rather than at home, in order to establish equal opportunities." The wealthy are more likely to have a good working environment at home with devoted parent helpers, he argues. His solution? A proposition to ban homework. By the same reasoning then, the French should also prohibit its wealthier citizens from owning personal libraries.  

    I mean, I can see his point. My daughter has a terribly unfair advantage over other science students because there are over 400 science books in our living room, basement and attic. I will ship them all to the French president tomorrow. Meanwhile, I will also make plans to have her share a room with her brother because being wealthier than the average French citizen, we have the luxury of having separate rooms from our children. They can use the refuge of a quiet room for reading and thinking. To eliminate this other unfair edge, we will place one bedroom in a crate and have it sail over the Atlantic towards the poor land that, according to the 2009 Program for International Student Assessment, ranks 21st in reading, 22nd in math and 27th in science.

    Hollande's pledge to add 60,000 teaching jobs in the next five years is another example of his genius. Creating a hiring frenzy is the best way to ensure that the most qualified and dedicated people will enter the profession, people who will magically squeeze instruction, inspiration and the necessary combination of reading, rote and thinking exercises into the nine half days a week of school in the French system.

    Sarcasm aside, the one thing that I do agree with is their plan to add school time because it's not up to par with the rest of the world. But to imagine that all necessary practice and thought required in learning can occur within school walls is unrealistic. Those who despise homework and see it as drudgery and busy work are throwing out the baby with the bathwater. They forget that those who assign homework of poor quality will do likewise with classwork.

    From several of the comments below I am reminded once again of the essential problems with education. The first of many issues is that everyone seems to have solutions because most have seen the problem from within. But that doesn't make everyone's solutions viable, assuming they are really committed to fixing and not just venting.

    If I knew the language I would love to teach in Finland to see if it is as ideal as it's portrayed in books and articles. They have reduced homework but have not eliminated it. Setting up any top-down policy goes against their spirit of learning, which they seem to truly respect; they don't just pay lip service to it.  In the educational reform of the 60s the Finns seem to have confronted the key issues: doing away with mark-obsession; raising the bar for letting people into the teaching profession; not setting up a huge government body of arm-chair textperts to stifle what happens in the classroom; and not having privately funded schools
    .

    But for such changes to take hold in Canada and the United States, you would need a sweeping, parallel change in social structure and values. All that in a heterogeneous population spread over such a large geographical area?  What has been relied upon as unifying tools: mass media, education and now social media all come with a price: they make the sense of community even more transient than it's always been.

    The status quo in general education is tied to not only unions but to a huge money machine of educational supplies, expensive college education and competition in politics, sports and corporate ladder-climbing. Historically, something truly catastrophic seems to be the only thing that moves an entire society to reevaluate both its means and goals. But it would be inhuman to invite a disaster of such proportions.


    Meanwhile, consider doing your homework under a tree to get fresh air, to get a glimpse of the glimmering light among the foliage.



    Comments

    Hank
    My daughter has a terribly unfair advantage over other science students because there are over 400 science books in our living room, basement and attic. I will ship them all to the French president tomorrow.
    ha ha I did have to wonder where his head was at when he said that stuff.  'Homework canceled - women, minorities benefit most' is the kind of weird headline creepy social authoritarians love to invoke but it doesn't make much sense.

    They are pretty terrible in education already.  Making it worse should not be the goal of socialists in power but policies designed to create equality by decreasing the scores of good students are going to do just that.
    When you are keeping "score" or "grading" you are making kids compete against one another, whether you like it or not. And when you do that, the least to be expected is it be fair. The competition should be based on what they learned, and not on "how" they learned it. By mandating "homework", you are making sure kids compete on the "how" rather than "what" they learned, hence tilting the playing field.

    If homework is not there, the "good" students can still go home and study more and compete against those who do not. I dont see how the "not-so-good" students not doing homework has anything to with what good students learn.

    Hank
    Sure, I agree. We have had an 80 year experiment in the US also, teaching kids 'how to think' instead of facts, and then we complain when they cannot pick our Switzerland on a map.  Well, they know how to find Switzerland on a map they just don't know where it is because we do not teach that way.  America, like France, is penalized on goofy international tests because other students learn things instead of methods.
    I am not sure who these other students are who are learning things. Education has always been a challenge in any country. Most people praising these other countries would not last 15 days in them, much less raise a family. Moreover, where are these other countries when it comes to industry and innovation, with all their great students?

    The student has to have interest in learning and the teacher needs to have interest in teaching. With minimal wages and practically no benefits and security, the teaching profession is bound to get worse and attract only "characters". Also, with all the learning, the student is going to lose out since all jobs are relocating to these "other great countries". All the homework is going to do squat, and it is better at least kids enjoy their childhood.

    Hank
    With minimal wages and practically no benefits and security, the teaching profession is bound to get worse and attract only "characters"
    Money has nothing to do with it, and certainly 'security' - tenure - is pointless. The best, most enthusiastic teachers are rapidly cut to keep the union employees who have been around longer.  In China, teaching is done by rote and teachers make a paltry sum, even by China standards, for which they also have to clean their bathrooms.  We can make the case that Chinese kids are not smart but it would be difficult.  America owns the high-end and the low-end but the averages go to Asia.
    This is a capitalist system, and education is no exception. There aren't that many "loser" enthusiastic teachers who do not care for money and work for the sake of teaching others. If education is to improve, teaching as a profession must become profitable for teachers. China can force their citizens .. it will not work here.

    What would be next? ... Force doctors to treat patients for pittance .. and make them clean toilets in their spare time ... to lower healthcare costs? Then you would wonder why students do not pursue medicine!! Obviously communism is not an answer here.

    The reason China owns average is because all average jobs go to China. And they go there because of lower wages. That is not going to change anytime soon, So there is no point for US students to study hard just to become average students. There isn't a carrot at the end of that stick. Even if all students in US are at Einstein level, most jobs do not require Einstein and there is no reason for corporations to keep those jobs here paying higher salaries (even without benefits, security, tenure, unions etc). Also, slamming unions and praising Chinese communist policies smells of hypocracy. Perhaps this is the smell bothering Enrico.

    Wait for it: If François Hollande thinks it's a good idea, then the some of our legislators will shout that the US should hurry up and copy that approach. ::gags

    UvaE
    Wait for it: If François Hollande thinks it's a good idea, then the some of our legislators will shout that the US should hurry up and copy that approach. ::gags
    That's my exact concern. There are already teachers in the U.S. and Canada who subscribe to that philosophy.
    >>There are already teachers in the U.S. and Canada who subscribe to that philosophy.

    Do you think that this reflects the "I've got a job" attitude instead of the "I'm a professional educator" stance?

    The reason I ask is because a certain segment of the education system (here in my part of the US) seems to be a lot less interested in the learning progress of the students than they seemed to be when I was a student. I'm speaking of K-12 specifically here, the university standards don't seem to have slipped as much.

    Though, as usual, there may be a lot more to the situation. For instance, less participation by parents nowadays could be a significant factor.

    Hank
    Universities have not been corrupted by a union mentality the way K-12 in the US has, but it is slowly happening. 
    Just in time for Halloween... Coming to a campus near you, The Professor's Union. A truly scary thought.

    UvaE
    Do you think that this reflects the "I've got a job" attitude instead of the "I'm a professional educator" stance? 
    It's due to several factors:

    (1) Slack requirements for letting people into the teaching field.
    (2) Unions that really should be replaced by professional associations, but that can't happen if number (1) isn't fixed.
    (3) Uncritical acceptance of bogus educational studies.
    (4) Unscrupulous businesses milking funds out of bureaucracies that are not spending their own money.
    (5) People in educational offices trying to justify their jobs. 
    (6) Trying to put too many kids past a certain age on that same college track.  



    Well, there are many good teachers in the States, who are more than righteously concerned about barely existent funding for some school districts (esp the ones including schools for disadvantaged youth)... While I agree that this particular piece of legislation by Hollande makes no sense whatsoever (why not increase overtime pay for the teachers who are willing to stay extra hours to supervise kids who themselves are willing to stay extra hours to do homework at school instead of at home?), I also have to say that education in general is grossly underfunded in many countrues, which causes it to heavily favour the wealthy. Colledge education in the US is one of the examples of such disaster... Socialist approach makes good sense in general. Their ideas and execution of them, however, are worthy of big "facepalm"...

    Gerhard Adam
    ...why not increase overtime pay for the teachers who are willing to stay extra hours to supervise kids who themselves are willing to stay extra hours to do homework at school instead of at home...
    What kids are in a position to be "willing", let alone make the decision to do so?  There is something fundamentally wrong when we want to reward teachers for staying late, while the student is simply expected to be motivated to do so based on initiative.  What's wrong with this picture?


    Mundus vult decipi
    The french president is now guilty because he mislead innocent legislators and teachers? Whatever happened to personal responsibility?

    vongehr
    done during school hours rather than at home ... A proposition to ban homework.
    Is this your personal spin (doing X during Y = not doing X) or is a ban (rather than offering more school hours) actually what he also proposes (but simply was not quoted by you)?

    Can you provide evidence for that his proposal cannot be interpreted as the proposal to make school a great place to do more (namely what otherwise must be done at home, which is for very many kids not a great place to get any work done at all)?

    How would a ban on school prescribed homework stop parents from encouraging kids to learn science at home? It seems that either he is an idiot, or he obviously meant something else.

    It is the problem with these political pieces on Science2.0. You substitute witty writing for information. That is not the same as informing in a witty way. I don't want to annoy you, but I cannot stop myself from also being a little annoyed by the pride you put into having so many books at home. So what? Pseudo intellectual parents with whole libaries at home turn out great scientists and philosopher kids? Are you joking? We had no good books at home!
    Hollande's pledge to add 60,000 teaching jobs in the next five years is another example of his genius. Creating a hiring frenzy is the best way to ensure that the most qualified and dedicated people will enter the profession
    You can have the greates teachers, but if they are stressed by too many hours and the classes have too many people, forget it. How is hiring teachers bad? What evidence do you have for that all those teachers are bad teachers?
    UvaE
    but I cannot stop myself from also being a little annoyed by the pride you put into having so many books at home. So what? Pseudo intellectual parents with whole libraries at home turn out great scientists and philosopher kids? Are you joking? We had no good books at home!
    The books were brought up in the sarcastic piece not to show off but to ridicule the equality argument which is motivating the socialist French government.

    The fact that you had no books at home (neither did I when I was growing up) and still managed to get several degrees in science doesn't imply that parents should all take that route. But in general, anything parents do to indicate that they value learning will increase the likelihood that any existing aptitude in their children will flourish.

    You can have the greatest teachers, but if they are stressed by too many hours and the classes have too many people, forget it. How is hiring teachers bad? What evidence do you have for that all those teachers are bad teachers?
    I never said they would all be bad teachers. I was implying that during most hiring frenzies, standards are lowered, and it lets people in who just want a job above everything else. What evidence do I have? It's happened twice in Quebec and elsewhere in the continent due to demographics: in the 1960s when high school teachers were hired at age 19 or 20 and in the 1990s when many came into the field without at least a bachelor's in a particular field outside of an "education degree".

    And by the way, it's not the hours and number of kids that stress good teachers. It's being forced to follow dubious policies by fools in educational bureaucracies and government.



    vongehr
    number of kids that stress good teachers
    actually more the kids that are stressed by the other kids

    Anyway - I cannot shake the feeling that you are quite biased here. It could not be that Hollande is a "socialist"?
    UvaE
    Anyway - I cannot shake the feeling that you are quite biased here. 
    It's probably from the tone. And you can get caught up in thinking, "Here's a priveleged guy resenting socialist policies." But it's not about that. 

    As much as I believe in homework, I would never want it to be legislated that teachers must give homework! In fact there are teachers at our school who don't give homework, and as much as I disagree with them, at least it gives my students more time for their lab reports and other chemistry homework! 

    See the 6 issues I listed from a previous comment in response to Frank. That's the important stuff. Nobody with power is addressing it. I've pointed this out before, but all of the ills of society are inside school and other educational institutional walls. Some of the evils are reflections of what's beyond those walls and genetics; but for others, they are its roots.

     
    vongehr
    Wondering why you would simply disregard my first question, I go to the dear intertubes, and it takes me about two seconds to find the answer:
    "The idea is part of a broader set of proposed education reforms, which include longer school weeks"
    precisely as I wrote right away ("Is this your personal spin (doing X during Y = not doing X) or is a ban (rather than offering more school hours)" - see my first comment above).
    Enrico - who are you trying hard to become buddies with around Science2.0? Why?
    UvaE
     longer school weeks"
    precisely as I wrote right away
    Presently France has no school on Wednesdays, and they want to change that. That makes sense. But there's no need to do away with homework. If educational studies can be trusted, the only evidence for counterproductivity when homework is assigned is for early elementary school. But I don't buy the idea that French kids are presently stressed if they only attend four days a week!


    Enrico - who are you trying hard to become buddies with around Science2.0? Why?
    That's an illusion on your part. If you had known me two years ago before I knew Science 2.0 even existed, I would have reacted to the homework issue in an identical manner. In fact many years ago, I blasted our union when they tried using no hw as a negotiating tactic, especially when they defended themselves in the media by stating, "well some teachers don't believe in homework anyway!"

    vongehr
    If you had known me two years ago before I knew Science 2.0 even existed, I would have reacted to the homework issue in an identical manner.
    Enrico - you miss "the next level". I don't care about what your opinion is as long as it is properly argued. And this is what I mean by "buddies", because there is somebody else here that writes like this and does simply not grasp that the refusal of populist writing does not equal refusing the political position!
    This is a science site, so opinions about politics/god/... should be also here, but there should be no populist writing that focusses on what is witty (as seen by the already convinced target audience) rather than informing (thus perhaps even reaching the other side instead of just insulting them). The piece you have written here is in my eyes unacceptably biased, and I think you know it, because you refuse to answer or even accnowledge my most important question, the first one I asked. Again - too late now - I don't care. It is up to you what you want and who you want to be buddies with. I can promise you that with this combination of writing and opinion you can "make it", politically biased but still PC-professionalism able sites like "real clear science" will link to your pieces, and so on. So - good luck, if that is what you want.
    UvaE
    because you refuse to answer or even acknowledge my most important question, the first one I asked.

    There was admittedly a delay in answering the first question, but look above,  and I did address it and admitted that adding school time was a good idea in France where their total hours are substandard. But  homework should still stay there and everywhere.

    Your accusations are about as accurate as the Thomson model of the atom.

    (1)
    In the original article about Hollande that I had read, the added school time issue was not mentioned. That's why the delay in answering occurred.
    (2) When I quickly wrote the blog I was listening to a bad live feed of someone lecturing about impractical ivory tower teaching strategies. He was of the no-homework , no-zero, no-fail  camp.  Earlier in the morning. I had just heard about Hollande's idea on the radio. This blog was a knee-jerk reaction to that pair of arguments.
    (3) Yes this is an opinion piece and you've trashed those before, but they're not all from the same political side. My opinion pieces are consistently excluded from Real Clear Science.
    (4) There is usually a bump in readers when RCS picks up my articles, so I might get an extra $4 a month, but it's not why I write here. Writing is an enjoyable hobby, a way of motivating me to dig into journals and into other people's thoughts, a way of learning more. Arguing also does not stress me. I enjoy it. meanwhile agreeing with someone when a very similar thought or concept has been in my brain is also pleasant. But pretending to agree only for some later gain stresses me. So I avoid those games.
    (5)
    "Again - too late now - I don't care." You've gathered your imagined evidence. Nothing else can make you think twice about your conclusions? Not very scientific of you.
    vongehr
    Oh come on - do you belong to those who lose all reading comprehension once their emotions are tickled a little?
    You STILL do not get it. I really really do not give a moist rodent's posterior about how many $4 you make and there are no "accusations"! I also never said that certain people would directly link your opinion pieces (sorry Enrico - neither their strategies nor my understanding of them are that naive). All I say since the very first comment up there is what you now fully admit yourself:
    quickly wrote the blog ... bad live feed ... knee-jerk reaction ...
    well, and the particular way of 'wittyness' that is populist. And that is why it is "too late" and I don't much care about the answer to my question. The point is: Next time you see somebody trashed, especially somebody like Hollande who goes under a certain convenient label, ...

    You also STILL do seemingly not get that I have no damn problem with people supporting, say, if some company supports exploitation of blacks, which was the issue where "your buddy" started to go all hysterical on me (he still has not recovered). I don't care you argue whatever AS LONG AS it is done honestly (explicitly) and argued in a rational way fit for a science site.
    Gerhard Adam
    Two problems I have here.  There's no mention about which grades are involved?  Is this supposed to be globally applicable?

    Secondly, I don't see anything wrong with setting the provisions such that homework gets done at school, during school hours.

    What's the rationale?  Moreover, I'd like to know what the rationale is for homework in the first place for the typical student [not university students].
    Mundus vult decipi
    UvaE
    Secondly, I don't see anything wrong with setting the provisions such that homework gets done at school, during school hours.
    What's the rationale?  Moreover, I'd like to know what the rationale is for homework in the first place for the typical student ?
    In learning science especially, even at the high school level, you need class and lab time to introduce safety features and lab techniques. Then the labs themselves take time. There are problem-solving labs where students have to figure how what to do with the equipment. Labs are repeated  if something goes wrong or to verify a result. After all that, you're going to write a good lab report on school time? Not exactly. The bell rings. 

    The mathematical part of physical science courses need reinforcement, and they need practice deriving relationships. They weren't brought down with Moses on Mount Sinai. Again some practice can occur on school time, but a lot of class time is taken up by demonstrations, discussions and going over examples.

    On our schedule kids have a subject 4 to 6 periods out of a 9 day cycle, so they often have at least two days to do it. In addition,  anti-homework people forget that elementary and high school kids are home over 185 days a year!  Some  students who do homework regularly  play in a band; some play sports and they go out with their friends. It's not as if homework sucks up all of their free time.  Then there are 12 weeks of the year (9 in summer, 2 at Christmas, 1 at spring break) when kids have no homework. Only some studying is recommended over the Christmas holidays. So this whole story about stressing kids with homework is a bunch of baloney.

    I've been teaching for 28 years. In the last 13, I've been at a school where we accept everybody. There are no entrance exams and there's no prohibitive tuition.  From my chem students in the last thirteen years  alone(about 50 to 75 per year) , at least seven of them are in medical school or have completed it. One just published a genetics paper and received an NSERC grant. Two have majored in chemistry. Dozens have engineering degrees. Many more ace commerce programs, which have much lower standards than what my colleagues and I set in math, physics and chemistry. Ask any of the students if they could have survived my course or subsequent ones without having done homework, and the reply will be "no, way, Jose".

    My physics colleagues give homework; the best math teachers at our school give homework, ditto for all the best teachers I ever had, without exception.   
    Gerhard Adam
    Well, I have to disagree and while I can't know everything about the circumstances you describe, I don't think it sounds very realistic.

    Time off, doesn't count for anything.  It isn't like you can accumulate relaxation time to offset the stress times, so I don't see what that has to do with anything.  I also think that it's ridiculous to subject students to 4-6 periods of subjects, as if a particular topic's interest is so readily turned on and off.

    Then, of course, every teacher thinks that their subject is the most important topic ever, so they think nothing of drowning you in irrelevant tasks which suck up lots of time.
    So this whole story about stressing kids with homework is a bunch of baloney.
    Actually it's not.  You find me a single adult who would accept being told that during the Christmas holiday, they should keep up with some of their work [without getting paid].  While some may do so on their own incentive, it is unrealistic to presume that someone necessarily cares enough about a subject to devote any extra time to studying during what should be their free time, for absolutely no reward or compensation other than an "atta boy".
    The mathematical part of physical science courses need reinforcement, and they need practice deriving relationships.
    I have no fundamental quarrel with the principle, but it is seriously flawed when students are coerced into taking classes that they have no need or desire for.  This is often the case where certain electives are required.  I have no quarrel with making students work when they volunteer to pursue a subject, but it is totally unreasonable to force students into certain classes and then behave as if this were their passion.

    We need to stop pretending that the average student cares about Hamlet or Physics or Trig.  They don't, and they will never use that knowledge.  If you were to ask anyone working in a store or the myriad number of other places you might frequent for business, you'll find that in adults the average mathematics level is little above 4th grade [most are stumped by fractions].

    Certainly students that want to pursue college curriculums and pursue professional degrees can have more demanded of them, but we need to stop behaving as if everyone is going to be the next Einstein or Hemingway.

    If you had any idea how many adults I've tutored in various programs, they all essentially manifest the same problems.  They recall virtually nothing from their school days.  Certainly there are some exceptional students, that are self-motivated and will excel, but interestingly enough, they will do that regardless of the average state of the school system.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2008/04/03/education/03cnd-writing.html?_r=0

    http://www.p21.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=250
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/03/22/top-reading_n_1373680.html

    If we want to improve education, then let's focus on teaching reading, writing, and arithmetic.  Anything beyond that should be optional and only open to students willing to work and apply themselves.  Why fill a class with students where half don't want to be there?

    Believe it or not, there are many people that have lived their entire lives without ever knowing Newton's laws of motion.  Many people survive without recognizing the periodic table, and there are many that are actually quite normal that don't understand algebra.

    In the majority of cases, we are simply wasting time attempting to educate people that don't want it, while treating them like cattle, and behaving as if they should be motivated by being herded around between 4-6 periods, 5 days a week.

    I expect you wouldn't tolerate it as an adult, so I don't see why we expect something different from our children.
    Mundus vult decipi
    UvaE

    If you had any idea how many adults I've tutored in various programs, they all essentially manifest the same problems.  They recall virtually nothing from their school days.
    Hypotheses: (1) they didn't do homework :)  (2) they never really understood what what was being taught or attempted to be taught. so it just went into their short term memory (3) If certain basics are not subsequently reinforced in related courses in later years, obviously they won't be remembered.

    You find me a single adult who would accept being told that during the Christmas holiday, they should keep up with some of their work [without getting paid].
    Me and many other teachers. (although we a re a minority) Students will be rewarded by getting better grades and more importantly they'll learn more if they just  a take a small part of their holidays to review. My best ones do.

    In the majority of cases, we are simply wasting time attempting to educate people that don't want it,

    I agree--although "majority" is an exaggeration--, but we should be providing them with quality vocational training at an earlier age and quit pretending that the present model fits all children.

    but it is seriously flawed when students are coerced into taking classes that they have no need or desire for.
    None of our students are coerced into taking chemistry, physics, senior math for science students or enriched science in grade 10. It's probably why we enjoy more success with those courses. Others have so many electives to choose from that I rarely hear anyone complain about their electives. And although there is no entrance exam in grade 7, if they don't display above average aptitude for math and science, by grade 9, they are not allowed into them. It's not  a permanent barrier because a few get in by taking remedial summer courses or they take an extra two terms in freshman college year.
    Many people survive without recognizing the periodic table, and there are many that are actually quite normal that don't understand algebra.
    Obviously. Many also survive without knowing about plumbing or electricity or about the techniques of writing a good short story. But if you have someone who really knows those crafts, there are a lot more people who wouldn't mind devoting a small fraction of their lives to learning a bit about them, even if they don't understand fractions.
    Gerhard Adam
    None of our students are coerced into taking chemistry, physics, senior math for science students or enriched science in grade 10.
    Perhaps none of your students are, for which you are quite fortunate.  In many cases the student has to choose a particular science class [so they are coerced since not taking a science class is not an option].  So, in those cases you have students trying to decide which is likely to be the easiest to pass.  It isn't that they're interested, they are just trying to meet requirements.
    But if you have someone who really knows those crafts ...
    Yes, if someone really knows those crafts, I will show you an individual that didn't learn them in high school.  As I've said before, most people that are good at their craft, learned most of it [even those portions that were taught previously] as adults and devoted a considerable amount of their own time and effort [voluntarily] to achieve such mastery.

    Moreover, those that achieve such a level can do so even with mediocre teachers.  Given two scenarios of a brilliant teacher and an apathetic student, versus an apathetic teacher and a brilliant student and the latter will always find a way to succeed, while the former is a hopeless cause, unless you're viewing the role of a teacher to be an inspirational speaker and hoping something rubs off.

    At least in the states, if you were to ask the average employer to assess high school students, I would predict that the typical attitude is that they are barely literate primates.  After 12 years, such a showing is clearly a failure.  This isn't the teachers fault, nor is it the students.  It's the fault of a system that thinks that education is a production line similar to that required to make cars.
    Mundus vult decipi
    UvaE
    There's no mention about which grades are involved?  Is this supposed to be globally applicable?
    No homework is a bad idea at any grade level, but in the early grades teachers should go easy and not give more than a half hour. I really valued spending homework time with my son and daughter when they were in elementary school. By the time my daughter was in grade 3 she started to be independent and did most of it on her own unless she was stuck on something a little more challenging. It's taken my autistic son 8 years before he could spontaneously do some academic work, but that too was very satisfying. A British program called Jolly Phonics helped learn how to spell and pronounce . 

    By the way I constantly ask his teacher for homework; otherwise nothing comes home.

    Gerhard Adam
    That's fine if that's what you choose to do, but things aren't always that clear-cut.  This becomes especially true in the higher grades.  A teacher isn't doing anyone any favors when the parent can't actually help their child with homework.  It becomes an onerous task for the student, and makes them think even less of learning it, when they get the clear message that their parents don't know it.

    If you like homework, as a parent, there is absolutely no barrier to your creating your own problems to help your children learn the materials.  Why should this be a standard for everyone?

    When I worked with my grandkids, I would make up problems for them to solve, and I could put my own spin on it to try and keep it interesting.  The typical teacher's homework was little more than make-work and taught absolutely nothing. 

    Don't get me wrong.  There are some excellent, dedicated teachers and it isn't my intent to disparage their efforts and their desire to educate.  However, there are far more mediocre teachers for which homework becomes the lazy way out to avoid actually have to teach and provide insights into their subject.

    Mundus vult decipi
    UvaE

    However, there are far more mediocre teachers for which homework becomes the lazy way out to avoid actually have to teach and provide insights into their subject.
    So let's stop trashing one of our tools (homework) and start doing something about raising standards for the teaching profession. 
    Banning homework is a good thing. For once the french are onto something here. What if all jobs require "homework"? Parents are not being forced to NOT teach their kids. You can still proudly own 400 books (although I wonder how many read cover to cover). Homework forces kids into particular rut and kills all enthusiasm they might have. It stops them from going out and play or reading up on subjects they truly love. You cannot force interest by requiring homework.

    UvaE
    _although I wonder how many read cover to cover....Homework forces kids into particular rut and kills all enthusiasm they might have..._You cannot force interest by requiring homework.
    The "rut" is just a state of mind.  Forcing interest is not the point of homework. Some books are intended to be used as references and not meant to be read from cover to cover. I've also given away some of the books to students or have lent them to friends and other teachers.

    UvaE
    _although I wonder how many read cover to cover....Homework forces kids into particular rut and kills all enthusiasm they might have..._You cannot force interest by requiring homework.
    The "rut" is just a state of mind.  
    Forcing interest is not the point of homework.
    Some books are intended to be used as references and not meant to be read from cover to cover. I've also given away some of the books to students or have lent them to friends and other teachers.

    Gerhard Adam
    Then what is the point?  Giving more work to students that don't care about a subject?  How is this supposed to work?

    The simple reality is that the system is seriously broken and there isn't anything in the current model that can possibly succeed as a general method.  You don't see schools building sports teams by one hour classes per day and then having homework.  You don't see musicians/artists being developed by one hour classes every day.

    If a university student signed up for 6 classes in a system [i.e. 6 periods] everyone would feel that this was far too aggressive for anyone except the most gifted students, yet this is precisely the model we employ through middle and high school.

    I've said it before and I'll say it again.  If music were taught the way other subjects are, there would be no musicians.
    Mundus vult decipi
    Gerhard Adam
    So let's stop trashing one of our tools (homework)...
    That's where I disagree.  It isn't one of "your" tools, it's one of "theirs" if they wish to pursue a topic in more detail.  If you want to reward students, then it's easy enough to offer a project that they can work on [of their choice within the topic] to get the necessary credits to pass.  Instead, most teachers still require all the normal classroom work without considering whether the student has actually mastered any of it.

    I would argue that the overwhelming majority of people [probably yourself included] learned the majority of things that they know as young adults and as adults.  Invariably most of that was achieved by a considerable amount of self-motivated study that had little or nothing to do with classroom assignments.

    We keep trying to replicate that self-motivation by requiring students to emulate it, in the hopes that something will rub off.  It simply turns them off to education.
    Mundus vult decipi
    blue-green

    The beast in the room is compulsory education. I would like to believe with Jefferson that a democratic society needs to be an educated one. That doesn't mean that it can't be voluntarily self-educated, especially in this day with excellent and affordable libraries and Internet resources ~ if you can educate yourself enough to use them with a critical mind ~ therein is the rub.

    What really bugs me is the fact that in this long age of compulsory education, we have legislators and advisers who have an education and yet are scientifically illiterate. Their education was a brain wash. They would be less dangerous without it. Our poster child for this a couple of weeks ago was Rep. Paul Braun from Georgia. Or blame the compulsory educated nits that having him running unopposed. What would Jefferson say?

    http://2012.talkingpointsmemo.com/2012/10/rep-paul-broun-r-ga-evolution-big-bang-lies-straight-from-the-pit-of-hell.php

    Bonny Bonobo alias Brat
    How can anyone be opposed to compulsory education unless they are a bigot, a fascist or a religious nutter?
    My latest forum article 'Australian Researchers Discover Potential Blue Green Algae Cause & Treatment of Motor Neuron Disease (MND)&(ALS)' Parkinsons's and Alzheimer's can be found at http://www.science20.com/forums/medicine
    Gerhard Adam
    How can anyone be opposed to compulsory education...
    How is it that people can foster the illusion that teaching can be forced?  People learn because they want to, not because they are made to.
    Mundus vult decipi
    Bonny Bonobo alias Brat
    I didn't say compulsory learning, I said compulsory education, there is a big difference! Its true that some students will try to shut their minds to learning but unless they are completely deaf they will still learn something just by being forced to attend compulsory education in whatever format it takes. 

    In Australia we have compulsory education but this can take many forms, including home education, all of these forms are then federally and state regulated and monitored, so that some form of quality education is compulsory for all. I think this is good and a lot better than not having compulsory education. 

    Just look at what is happening in countries like Afghanistan where girls are suffering terribly and even dying from just trying to get educated, because inevitably the religious bigots and fascists in control do not want them to be educated at all and they have to go underground. These girls are also forced to have chlitoridectomies and be stay at home wives and mothers, without any equal rights, of course the lack of compulsory education helps to support these antiquated, ignorant, elitist and sexist agendas.
    My latest forum article 'Australian Researchers Discover Potential Blue Green Algae Cause & Treatment of Motor Neuron Disease (MND)&(ALS)' Parkinsons's and Alzheimer's can be found at http://www.science20.com/forums/medicine
    blue-green

    For crying out loud Helen, I'm saying that neither education nor non-education should be compulsory or in the hands of people who want a theocracy. Frankly, I can settle for compulsory education and assisted day-care until children are no longer children (age 13). After that, let it be voluntary.

    Here is a question to all readers: have you (plural) noticed all of the cable TV shows airing about ghosts and the paranormal? Even National Geographic has gotten onto the trend. What does that say about the fruits of our compulsory education beyond reading and writing? When the Salem Witch trials were going on in Massachusetts, even then people were more critical in their thinking and able to recognize soon enough the power of belief and hysteria. Massachusetts was one of the pioneers in compulsory education, but it didn't go into adolescence to create a society with perpetual children, like Representative Paul Braun. And yes, he does indeed represent the State of Georgia.

    In all of the subjects that I did best it was where I made up my own homework. Lot's of it. I even created my own independent study programs and got full college credit (with an A). That's the way it used to be and it worked very well then and can yet again. Switzerland is leading the way, whether you want to follow or not.

    ... checking in for feedback and seeing nothing ... so I'll just note that today The Weather Channel is posting about haunted lighthouses. I know that this is popular fodder, and yet really, who could have asked for this but a populous that had little volition of its own to learn real science and just waits for someone to tell them what is the next required course (to get a degree and make money), with little interest in the actual subject.