discussion, homework, no homework, Student-centered

From the Mouths of Babes – My Students Discuss Homework

Thanks to a wonderful Time For Kids article this week, my students engaged in a 30 minute discussion on whether or not teachers should assign homework (we ran out of time or it could have gone longer).  I started out taping the discussion, hoping to share it, but the camera stifled them, so I turned it off and instead just listened and asked a couple of questions.  And the result?  Well, it was mixed.

Many students believed that homework was a necessary evil at first, and by that I mean, they think they should be assigned it so they can learn responsibility.  However, when I asked them whether they could be taught responsibility in a different manner they all agreed they already were responsible in school.  After that they started changing their mind.  Some highlights for me were:

  • We already work our hardest at school and deserve to be done with school when the bell rings.
  • We are tired when we get home so homework does not represent our best work.
  • Some times our parents cannot help us and we end up more confused.
  • Teachers do not own our time outside of school, but why do they think they do?  They can’t for example order us to go to Target.
  • I want to have a life outside of school and pursue my activities.
  • It is ok to have homework during the week but never during the weekend or during holidays.
  • If a student works hard during the day and is responsible, they should be able to not have homework after school.
  • It is ok to assign reading and special projects but they have to be super fun and have student choice.
  • Homework does not teach us responsibility but instead teaches us to get it done fast.
  • Homework should not be graded since it is just practice. 
  • Homework should be assigned because school has to come first and that is our job.
I love the level of thinking I am seeing in these students as they develop their discussion habits. They are figuring out when to speak and reacting to each other’s comments.  I also love how they are evaluating the world and learning to speak their minds.  I believe the camera stifled them because some were nervous in stating their opinion, after all, they are only 5th graders, what do they know?

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