Jun 29, 2012

BOOK: Rethinking Homework

Rethinking Homework: Best Practice That Support Diverse Needs
Cathy Vatterott

There's so much to this book, but I'm going to control myself and ask that you read it. The author takes a balanced approach to homework, stating the strengths and weaknesses of the pro-homework and anti-homework research and arguments.

There are only five chapters to the book.
1. The Cult(ure) of Homework
2. Homework in the Context of the New Family
3. Homework Research and Common Sense
4. Effective Homework Practices
5. Homework Completion Strategies and Support Programs

I picked up this book because of those chapter titles. Before we start assigning homework like we've always done, I think it's important to consider the research and best practices. 

One thing the author asks us to do is renegotiate the parent-school relationship, which "will require teachers to compromise, respect parents' wishes, and relax a bit" (46). She offers several steps...

1. Get real. Teachers are not in control of the child's free time.

2. Resist the temptation to judge. It's too easy to blame or judge children for lack of homework--there are lots of factors at play.

3. Revise expectations of parental support. We can't expect parents to teach the children--we simply want their support and feedback.

4. Suggest (do not mandate) guidelines for the parent's role in homework. We should expect parents to observe, give encouragement, and set expectations.

5. Establish formal methods of parent-teacher communication. The author suggests a feedback checklist or a homework survey.

6. Set parents' minds at ease about homework. To develop trust and a healthy relationship, it's important that students are not punished or embarrassed over incomplete homework. Plus, a student should not fail a class because of missing or incomplete homework.

7. Endorse a set of inalienable homework rights. The rights would include time spent on homework, help for misunderstood assignments, no homework on holidays or weekends, etc.

Ms. Vatterott discusses each point in much greater detail, offering explanations and examples. It's extremely important for a school to establish a homework plan.

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