|My younger friends love Babymouse.|
Yesterday I posted part of a homework letter that came home with my best friends' kids. I dislike it for a whole host of reasons, as I said. But in fairness, of course, I don't know the teacher, the school, or even the district very well, and my friends have been pretty happy with the education for their kids. I still don't like several things that letter represents, but I don't want to vilify a stranger on the Internet.
But. . .
I hate homework. I hate the word homework. I hate being told that I don't give enough, and I hate hearing that my students never have any. I would love to banish the word forever, and honestly, I kind of think we need to. "Homework" has become too loaded, too synonymous with busywork. I don't think homework can be saved.
I do, however, assign work to be finished outside of class. I do ask students to memorize countries. I expect them to read fifty books in a year, something that can't be done in school alone. I ask them read Charles Dickens on their own. I ask them to respond to reading, to expand their vocabularies, to study the world around them. All of this requires work outside of class and study hall. A key difference, in my mind, is that I'm asking them to either reflect on something we've done together ("Please answer these questions about today's reading.") or to prepare for a future lesson ("Please read these pages about the French Revolution for Thursday so we can talk about it."). I don't assign group work to be done outside of class. Writing and revising happen in school, for an entirely different set of reasons.
My best friends' kids love books. The older two are reading Harry Potter with their parents; the younger "reads" along with her picture books. Coming home and sprawling on the couch with books from the library, making videos with their new Babymouse toy, watching (again) videos from Mr. Schu's summer road trip. . . These are all better uses of their time than a worksheet so they can build the homework habit.