A Principal With a A Sense of Homework

Check out this article from my very own state of California. San Jose to be specific. I think northern California is one of the most forward-thinking regions of our country, filled with a lot of super smart people.

David Ackerman, the principal of Oak Knoll Elementary school, says what so many people have said before – homework doesn’t make sense.

Daryl Cobranchi wonders how long David will be able to keep his job.

Here are some interesting tidbits from the article:

When I talk to teacher groups about the explosion of homework, it’s often stated that, “we give homework because parents expect it of us.” Teachers report that parents believe that the homework is a sign of a rigorous program. It has also been reported that parents want the homework because it keeps the kids busy. When I talk with parents the viewpoint I most often hear is, “the teacher believes this work is important and we feel we must support the school.”

This is a gem:

I certainly don’t believe that homework teaches our children responsibility. There are very few choices in homework. The children are completing work that is required. They are complying with adult demands. Comply or suffer the consequences. This is not my idea of responsibility.

The fact that a principal is saying this next part gives me goose bumps. Could it be a contagious sentiment? Please oh please?

The argument for homework that makes the least sense to me is, “they get lots of homework in the middle school so we better get them used to it”. Parents and teachers say this resigned to the fact that this homework experience may be painful, work against quality family time, and diminish a young child’s fondness for learning. We want to get them ready to do something they are not going to want to do when they are older— by forcing them to do it when they are younger.

David, you’re my public school hero.


3 Responses to “A Principal With a A Sense of Homework”

  1. Joanne Says:

    Amen and hallelujah.

    ON the other hand, some (certain) homework does make sense. The leader (in my eyes) in this is Rick Wormeli. He is an incredibly gifted teacher in Herndon VA who really walks the talk when it comes to differentiated learning. He emphasizes giving homework assignments only when they make sense, and when they are individualized to the learner, and as real reinforcement of a learned skill or as an “advance organizer” for an upcoming activity.

  2. Tammy Says:

    Joanne, did you happen to read down at the bottom of the article? David Ackerman spells out a new plan for giving homework. And remember, this is for elementary school only.

    Kids are in school so many hours a day. Shouldn’t that be where they are doing the work that does “advance organization” and reinforcement of learned skills? And if a learned skill is so important, wouldn’t it be reinforced naturally in the real world?

    When a child is ready, he’ll get it. When he’s not, no amount of homework is going to make it stick better. 6 hours of school time is enough for the little guys. I think rather than reconstitute the nature of homework, reconstitute the nature of in classroom time so that all the kids, no matter how much they are ready to learn, are able to learn at their own pace, at their own level. If we do that, there’s no reason for homework.

    Let the kids play when they get home. If kids like homework – woot. Give it to ’em. But if it creates family strife and arguments, it’s not worth it, no matter how “reinforcing” it is. Sure, it may reinforce math skills, but what is it doing to the family and to the precious time and mental energy a child has when they aren’t in school?

    Anyway, I’ll do some research in Rick Wormell. Thanks for the pointer.

  3. Joanne Says:

    Believe me, I totally get not having kids do more seatwork. But advance organizers and reinforcement and other learning activities do not have to be seatwork. And the best learning can be “play.”

    BTW, please let me clarify a term: an advance organizer is something that prepares a student for the learning that is to come (the ideas described below are loose examples of the term). For example, if kids were going to learn “biography,” the homework might be to ask one of their parents three key questions about his/her life. In class, the teacher might demonstrate how that information can be the starting point for what biographies are, and how they are put together.

    If (in an older class) the students were going to begin a unit in drama, the focus being on how dialogue supports scenes, and how actions are the basis of scenes, the homework might be to watch a particular show with the sound off for 10 minutes and try to construct the dialogue just by watching the expressions and actions. This would then be discussed in class and lessons extracted (it’s a form of inductive teaching).

    If you go to this link and scroll down, you’ll see a link to a summary of some of Wormeli’s ideas about dealing with homework: http://www.middleweb.com/mw/aaResources.html

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