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Topic: Homework

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Subject:   RE: Homework
Author: Mathman
Date: Aug 10 2006
On Aug  9 2006, Craig wrote:
> Why do you have your students do homework at all?

>Homework is a difficult issue (for lots of
> different reasons) for most teachers.

It should not be.  Why not put the issue, if it exists, back where it belongs,
with the parents?  One must presume that the teacher is at first conscientious,
and assigns homework for specific and good reason, and that the work assigned is
both reasonable and sufficient for the particular course of study.

Beginning students practicing the piano do not quit when they have to practice
their scales and arpeggios at home every day other than the day of the lesson.
Students of martial arts don't sit around eating chips and gallons of pop the
rest of the week if they want to progress at a reasonable pace, and they daily
do the most boring of exercises.  All lead towards a specific goal, which has
rewards big-time in their future endeavours.  Homework does the same.
Students can look and listen, and perhaps learn, and even perhaps understand.
However, in order to be able to use what they have learned with some skill in
later years, they should practice, and put it into a wider perspective with
numerous applications.  Homework allows the time for that.  Without it, they
have simply flash courses during which some appear to be temporarily successful,
but have in fact learned nothing in the long run.

Parents should demand homework, not question it.  It allows not only for
understanding, but if diligent, allows for mastery and simple ease of use.  As
in long distance running, the initial struggle is painful, but it soon becomes
much easier through force of habit.  When students are studying calculus, they
should not have to think for a moment about the structure of the rational
expressions they encounter and then deal with.  That must then be simply the
bricks on which they build bigger ideas.

Just an opinion, but I firmly believe that homework, either assigned or
voluntary is essential for imminent success.  Ideally, that is a habit that they
will apply as adults in their daily work for similar results.


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