The results were informative, but, probably not surprising. The responses ranged from some of you not wanting homework at all, to some wanting more.
Interestingly, staff have a similar range of views, and even with agreement on the need for homework or not, there is variety of opinions in terms of the purpose of homework! I think that the topic is one that is highly emotive and may not just be about whether it has an academic benefit for primary aged students, but includes other issues as well- developing self discipline, responsibility and accountability, for example and many people see homework as a vehicle to develop these traits.
Some research indicates that at the primary school level, there is no educational advantage in having homework. In other words, it does not make a difference. Whole books such as 'THE HOMEWORK MYTH: Why Our Kids Get Too Much of a Bad Thing' by Alfie Kohn (Da Capo Books, 2006)
have been dedicated to explaining why the idea of homework being advantageous is a fallacy. And yet we persist...
At school, we have looked at what the research is telling us about homework, have had a really good look at what you have told us and have also had some initial discussions around what we can agree on. This is what we have come up with so far:
- Homework needs to be differentiated according to level and ability / need.
- Reading is to be included.
- Homework has to be consistent across the year group.
- Online activities can be included either as practice or as extension
- The level needs to be so that homework can be completed at an independent level.
- It needs to be enjoyable.
§ Some Questions that we considered were:
- Do we need parents to sign?
- What do we do with non homework doers?
- What is the level of accountability from our students/parents/teachers?
What do I think? Well, I do think reading for pleasure is an absolute essential! Have your child read any publication- books, graphic novels, comics, that ignite and sustain an interest in reading. I do think Mandarin practice is important and also practice in areas of difficulty. Some personal research related to a Unit of Inquiry that involves asking questions and finding out is also useful. Other than that, I think the opportunity to run and explore, to develop interests and passions which may last a lifetime (I have written previously about my son who only ever wanted to climb trees when he came home from school and is now a qualified arborist!) is essential to developing a well balanced life.
The challenge for us as a school is to try and please everyone. Yes, I know, totally impossible, but it is about finding a balance that we can all live with and agree to.
The quest continues...