Take it home with you: Is Homework necessary moving forward?

  • With an abundance of data out there on homework, it’s hard to determine if homework is either helping or hurting students.
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Welcome readers,

Homework is understood as a daily activity that prepares a student for future challenges in a curriculum (i.e. tests, projects). However, some questions need to be answered and those are, how much value needs to be put on homework? And how much significance does homework have in terms of it improving a student’s comprehension and performance in the classroom? Aside from homework, there are a myriad of other ways a student’s performance is evaluated, it’s just that homework is something parents can see their child putting effort into when not in the classroom, that is until the report card arrives in the mail. Unless there’s a P.T.A meeting (a parent and teacher meeting), the parent will not get the totality of their child’s performance once they leave home, unless the child happens to be homeschooled. Moreover, some research suggests that homework can hinder achievement and in some cases students’ overall mental health. Additionally, back in the 30s and 40s homework was abolished but made a brief return in the 50s, which brought forth a desire to sharpen students’ math and science skills. It was defunct during the Vietnam War and revitalized with a stronger emphasis on a student’s projected performance in the 80s. With that said, homework is a sort of “balance sheet” that gives a teacher and parents a snapshot of the effort and progress a student provides to their schoolwork when not in the classroom. Furthermore, the purpose of homework is generally understood as an individual practice that students generally detest when class is over. However, homework is one method that teachers use as an indicator of the attentiveness and comprehension a student has of the subject matter. 

        The value homework has during a student’s academic career varies and its significance towards the overall student’s performance in some cases (like in college) begins to diminish. This can all be due to the program a college student is in and the professor’s syllabus, which sometimes from my experience had minuscule worth compared to the other factors that made up the grading criteria. Having said that, homework is good practice (Allen Iverson voice, We talkin’ ‘bout Practice?!) for the material covered in class, but some students might perceive homework to be frivolous to their final grade if they’re doing “good” or “excellent” in everything else on the syllabus. A Duke researcher named Harris Cooper conducted one of the most comprehensive studies on homework efficacy to date. Cooper reported, “No strong evidence was found for an association between the homework–achievement link and the outcome measure (grades as opposed to standardized tests) or the subject matter (reading as opposed to math).” Achievement in the classroom isn’t solely dependent on homework and sometimes the two can be conflated. If one were to ask someone, let’s use a parent in this case “if homework is valuable for their child’s academic success”? A parent would most likely answer that homework is a valuable practice that they would like to see their child doing consistently and efficiently. It would be an aberration to parents if homework was removed from the syllabus. In other words, familiarity begets comfort and if homework were to be eliminated from a syllabus, then the other factors in the grading criteria will compensate for it and determine the student’s success or failure. As mentioned earlier, parents need to see firsthand the effort their child is putting into schoolwork and they might even protest that homework remains in their child’s studies.

It’s challenging to come up with a definitive answer on whether homework is helping or hurting students because there is a lot of juxtaposition that occurs with studies trying to answer how beneficial or unnecessary it is to students’ learning. The grading system gets more nuanced as students progress in school and homework in some cases depending on the course, can become optional, a way to self-check what was learned that day or week in class. In regards to this, this self-guided way of learning can go in conjunction with a psychological concept known as spacing effect, which suggests that it’s easier to learn material when it’s been worked over several times in short bursts rather than compiling everything learned from that day or week in long study sessions. Furthermore, shorter homework assignments can be more beneficial than heavy workloads, and with this sense of respite, the chances of completion rate can improve. 

In closing, the value and significance of homework in education are up for debate because they’ll be an amalgamation of perspectives that see homework as a customary duty a student should be doing daily, while others looking at the grand scheme of things might find it pointless and perceive it as not always leading students to an auspicious outcome if they are falling behind in other areas in the course. With respect to that, homework should not be seen as a pacifier to salvage inadequacies in a student’s performance in other aspects of the curriculum, but an activity that will create a work ethic and confidence so a student can overcome challenges as they progress through their academic career.

WORKS CITED

Horaczek, Stan. “Kids Are Onto Something: Homework Might Actually Be Bad.” Pocket, 24 Sept. 2021, getpocket.com/explore/item/kids-are-onto-something-homework-might-actually-be-bad?utm_source=pocket-newtab&fbclid=IwAR0wIVy5vphFaAgkNJV2asGkYMp9bNahmLEOyCHz0AGgKAF5z5dnqRc6gVg.

Read On

I love reading and writing, every week I collect books on my walks. You’ve probably heard the saying “Reading is Fundamental”, well it is truly a vital fundamental skill that will always be in every facet of our lives. Reading is one of the first skills we learn as a child and it is one of the main components of a solid education in adolescent growth. With that said, I want to share with you a story I came upon that intrigued me but made me question how many older adults are out in this country and possibly the world (the people reading in their native languages) that are illiterate and continue to progress in life without learning an imperative skill that they will have to face on the daily.  

I will include a link to the article so you take a look and gain better context to this story. I will summarize what I’ve read in terms of this person’s story and add my commentary on it. The article is three years old, but this kind of issue doesn’t have an expiration date. “I was a teacher for 17 years, but couldn’t read or write. That title captivated me and from there. The article tells the story of John Corcoran, a man who grew up with one of six siblings in New Mexico U.S. in the 1940s and 1950s, and graduated high school and college with a secret he never revealed during those days and that was his illiteracy. As a child, Corcoran perceived reading as reading a Chinese newspaper, none of it made sense, and he couldn’t make out the words, let alone understood what they meant. “I didn’t understand what those lines were, and as a child of six, seven, eight years old, I didn’t know how to articulate the problem. Corcoran understood at a young age that the world he would have to deal with when he entered his adult life involved reading and writing on every level. He would go on to say reflecting on his childhood, “I remember praying at night saying, “please lord, let me know how to read tomorrow when I get up” and sometimes I’d even turn on the light and get a book and look at it and see if I got a miracle, but I didn’t get that miracle”. 

His illiteracy only exasperated his confidence because he would be placed in the “dumb row” in elementary and middle school. His teachers said he was a good student, saying things like “He’s a smart boy he’ll get it” and consequently promoting him to the next grade. Furthermore, even though he stated his social skills were proficient his illiteracy haunted him every turn and motivated him to commit to cheating on exams. The ways he came up with cheating were sort of clever and he even took it a step further by breaking into a teachers office to obtain test documents so he can cheat and pass. His desperation is understandable but reckless and frankly idiotic. I’m not trying to be irreverent but nowhere in the article did he ever seek out tutoring in his younger years to alleviate his issues during his elementary and middle school years, nor did he have an insatiable desire to learn to read and write no matter what. Not to mention if his parents had known of his illiteracy, he would have absolutely been tutored/homeschooled until his parents felt he was ready to be in a classroom with other students which would have added extra pressure. Equally important, I did research on when the SATs you know the test that is administered for college admissions. Well it came out in 1926 and it was around during Corcaran’s day and I believe he would have scored very low or devised a scheme to cheat his way to a high score, after all, desperation was his calling card for his shortcomings. 

Fast forward to his college years which he somehow completed without many  issues and was offered a job in teaching. He would fake heart attacks in faculty meetings where brainstorming ideas and writing ideas on the board was constant activity, but doing that after a few times would not only be old but very suspicious. I’m not sure if he is proud of this but he did “whatever it took not to get caught, AND I NEVER DID GET CAUGHT”. Whenever taking attendance the names of the students would always cause distress and he used the students as aides. He claims they didn’t suspect anything at all – you don’t suspect the teacher”. Hmm, I call bullshit on this, unless the kids are retarded, oblivious, or don’t care, one student would have picked up why are we constantly watching films and having seminars? A lot of students would be cool with this, but one of them had to be curious, other teachers and the principal would be and question his teaching methods. On the bright side, he could type 65 words per minute, but what good is that when he couldn’t read or understand it, and he would continue to be deceitful not only to his peers and students but also to himself. It was later in life when he got a tutor, and his wife and friends assisted him with his illiteracy. 

In conclusion, John Corcoran’s story of maneuvering through life without a vital daily skill will be inspiring to individuals who have gone through a similar situation. Quite frankly, in my opinion adult illiteracy should not even be allowed to happen in my opinion unless the child is severely mentally impaired. His parents and teachers earlier in his life especially in elementary and middle school failed him in terms of not encouraging and enforcing him to be ingrained in reading and writing. Lastly, Corcoran is definitely not the only adult in this country that has or still suffering in silence due to their illiteracy, and it needs to addressed immediately once identified by that individual or an adult (parent/teacher) and they will have to encourage them in ways that will give them confidence to help the next young person struggling from being an adult who has yet to achieve a skill for daily life. What is it you’re doing now? That’s right reading this post. So read on, people because I know will. 

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