By Sarah Bugay
Homework is a staple within the school system built in place in order to reinforce strategies and concepts students learn within school when they go back home. However, not all homes for students are created equally, which begs the question: is homework supporting our students who do not have supports in place when they leave the school grounds? Or is this simply one more stresser in their lives?
Home and family mean different things to different people and while as educators, we understand that our students have different backgrounds, are we doing our students who have chaotic home lives an injustice by not catering our teaching practices to the students we are serving?
If we are assigning a book report or a project, aren’t we, as teachers, assuming students either have the technology at home or they have the time and ability to travel somewhere where there is technology to provide the ability to effectively complete the project.
Robert Pondiscio, Director of CitizenshipFirst, stated in Poor Students Need Homework Too that his former students in the South Bronx benefited from “…thoughtful, well-crafted homework, especially in reading” and that it remains an “…essential gap-closing tool.”
While I agree that homework is an important and vital reinforcement tool for students in ensuring they are practicing the skills which they are learning during the day, at home. However, I think it is also a disservice to fail to consider students’ home lives in the assignment and grading of homework.
The Center for Public Education cited research which debunked the myths that homework increases academic achievement, without excessive homework students will not have internationally competitive test scores, and that those who question homework want to weaken curriculum and pander to students’ laziness.
Within my own classroom, I have attempted to balance high expectations with understanding my students’ home lives, I take more into consideration effort rather than accuracy within our homework system. This system seems to work well within my class as my students are working to attempt the work at home. Beyond this, on the back of their homework, students can write to me about what types of supplies they may require at home to complete the homework, like a pencil and scrap paper.
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