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Topic: home work

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Subject:   RE: home work
Author: markovchaney
Date: Oct 8 2006

You say you like the tone of the list, then you characterize my post as a
"rant." Very conducive to dialogue? I don't think so. I made some points. I made
a suggestion of a book. I am unsurprised but disappointed that rather than take
any of it seriously, you become snide.

On Oct  8 2006, Mathman wrote:
> On Oct  8 2006, markovchaney wrote:
> On Oct  8 2006, Mathman
> wrote:

I really suggest you look at Kohn's
> book on the
> "homework myth."

Far too long a rant to reply to all, so I'll
> just add to the above, in your own manner, for none of this will
> change anyone not present to benefit.  You surmise far too much
> without any basis, such as implying that homework is assigned as
> some sort of punishment rather than benefit.  You are presuming that
> teachers went into the busines in order to be able to punish young
> people.  I believe from personal experience that the truth is
> entirely the opposite to that teen-sort of presumption.

That is a misinterpretation. I don't think most teachers mean to punish, but
they implicitly admit that there is a punishment aspect to homework when they
make not having to do it a reward. And please, don't tell me you've never heard
a teacher say, "If you guys don't behave, I'm going to increase your homework."
Happens every day. Few teachers go to work in the morning thinking, "How can I
ruin these kids' day?" but there are some who do, and after a rough day, week,
month, year, or career, that number can increase. I'm not accusing you of
anything, and if you are truly unaware of what goes on, you've not had the
benefit of seeing quite as many different teachers in as many different
districts of all kinds as I have. To the extent that I may, I'd be happy to
enumerate them for you. Replete with illustrative anecdotes.

So, I
> really suggest that you try to teach high school for a few years,
> preferably in a large one in an inner city environment, ...and yes,
> I have.  You will find the experience enlightening.

Amazing that you presume I haven't. I speak very much from experience. I've
taught in at-risk high schools in blue collar suburbs of Detroit, and in an
inner-city charter high school in the Little Mexico section of Detroit. I've
done professional development work and math coaching in Pontiac, Michigan, the
South Bronx, the Lower East Side, Chinatown, and East Harlem (the NYC work was
all with middle schools). I've also done field supervision work for U of
Michigan in secondary math in working-class white suburbs of Detroit as well
as huge high schools in Detroit itself. I don't think there's anything relevant
to this conversation you've seen that I haven't. I'm not positive about the
reverse, but you didn't hear me challenge your bona fides and it's very rude
(and foolish) of you to challenge mine. You should have just asked. I'd already
said above that I'd be happy to give them before I saw your impolite comments.

I realize that you're not happy with my challenging your beliefs and
assumptions. My goal, of course, isn't to make you happy. It's to ask you to
think about them and consider what they are and whether they're factual or
merely convenient. Most assumptions are a mixture of nonsense, truth, and what's
easiest to believe. Mine, yours, everyone's. My work entails challenging
assumptions all the time and trying to get at better understanding of what might
actually be going on. I'm not here to make friends. Some people ultimately come
to appreciate having their assumptions challenged and they are open to changing
the ones that seem flawed upon further reflection. It's up to you whether you
care to be that sort of professional, or one who chooses to dig in at all costs
and defend your personal status quo.

  It's much
> better than reading about how someone thinks it should be done, and
> perhaps you could put your wisdom to practical experience for the
> benefit of those young people who are now apparently suffering.

First, Kohn's book is useful because it cites research I suspect most of us
don't know about that undermines "common sense" assumptions about the alleged
benefits of homework, more homework, and earlier homework for younger kids. If
you are comfortable remaining unaware, that's your decision as a teacher, but
not one I encourage in future or current teachers. Since I am not your
principal, chair, or coordinator, nor am I in any way in a position to impact
your career, perhaps I'm just using you as an obvious foil for putting my views
on homework out on this list, in opposition to the ones you have no hesitation
to promote. Why is it less okay for me to do that than it is for you to respond
with your own views? Why am I accused of "ranting" whereas I'm sure you see your
own posts as the essence of wisdom?

Finally, I've spent a lot of time in classrooms, mostly in at-risk and
inner-city schools, at just about every grade level, and at a number of
community colleges (in NYC and Michigan) and several universities. I'm not some
ivory tower academic, nor am I unaware of the plight of inner-city,
poverty-stricken kids. It's precisely because of that, and because I have a 11
y.o. son who has done his best to put up with the huge homework expectations
being foisted on kids starting in 1st grade or so, that I am offering my views.
Obvously, you disagree, as is your right. But where the line gets drawn is when
you start belittling my  viewpoint because you assume, quite wrongly, that I am
speaking from some ideal world view not rooted in difficult K12 classrooms.

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