I Give Up On Homework....Again!

Currently reading Mathematical Mindsets by Jo Boaler and really being rocked by it. I think it's going to be the thing that really pushes me to the next level in my teaching this year. I've highlighted A LOT of stuff, I've been nodding my head yes and shaking my head no, even getting emotional a few times.


And y'all know I was debating about homework anyway. I failed at it my first year and then scrapped it for the next six. At the end of last year, I felt like I needed to raise my standards and increase my rigor.

And guess what?


So before I even started, I've given up on homework again.

Here's some quoted research to prove why:

PISA, the international assessment group, with a data set of 13 million students, recently made a major announcement. After studying the relationships among homework, achievement, and equity, they announced that homework perpetuates inequities in education (Program for International Student Assessment [PISA], 2015).  
Additionally, they questioned whether homework has any academic value at all, as it did not seem to raise achievement for students. This is not an isolated finding; academic research has consistently found homework to either negatively affect or not affect achievement. Baker and LeTendre (2005), for example, compared standardized math scores across different countries and found no positive link between frequency of math homework and students' math achievement.  
 Mikki (2006) found that countries that gave more math homework had lower overall test scores than those that gave less math homework (Mikki, 2006). Kitsantas, Cheema, and Ware (2011) examined 5,000 15-and 16-year-olds across different income levels and ethnic backgrounds and also found that the more time students spent on math homework, the lower their math achievement across all ethnic groups.  
When we assign homework to students, we provide barriers to the students who most need our support. This fact, alone, makes homework indefensible to me.  
 It is unfair and unwise to give students difficult problems to do when they are tired, sometimes even exhausted, at the end of the day.  
I wonder if teachers who set homework think that children have afternoon hours to complete it, with a doting parent who does not work on hand. If they do not think this, then I do not understand why they feel they can dictate how children should spend family time in the evenings.  
The value of most math homework across the United States is low, and the harm is significant.

Homework should be given only if the homework task is worthwhile and draws upon the opportunity for reflection or active investigation around the home. 
-Chapter 6 Mathematical Mindsets

And even more than that, I'm going to listen and respect my students' feelings. I ask them every year how they feel about homework and the vast majority are grateful to not have it and don't think that having it would help their grades.

I respect that they have hobbies and interests and jobs and passions that don't involve math worksheets.

If I want to make sure they are prepared for college, I have 47 minutes * 180 days * 3 to teach them how to think, analyze, compare, notice, wonder, question, reason, and explain.

And if I have to raise my expecatations and standards of teaching, maybe college math professors should too.


1 comment:

  1. I was going to comment in your other post but got busy... I think you are much closer to the correct path in this post.

    It's tough to understand how someone becomes an admin yet thinks homework == rigor. Rigor ia about setting standards and then keeping those standards. It's probably in Boaler's book, but kids that can achieve the standards are the ones most likely to do homework while the ones that are not yet achieving are quite likely not able to do the homework (otherwise they would already be achieving?).

    That's not to say that practicing a skill is not beneficial, especially if dealing with a skill that benefits from speed and proficiency. There still, I wonder why we can't allocate class time for this type of practice.

    Finally, I think that we use the idea of prepping kids for university a bit too much. The world and society is much bigger than uni. If a person is 19 and is finding uni extremely hard, I think there is something else going on over and above not being prepped in high school. I dont say this to criticize your second to last paragraph but rather to say that at some point the responsibility is in the student to dictate their success. "I didn't get enough homework in high school" would go down as one of the worst excuses in the world for lack of success!