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Discussion: All Tools on Computer
Topic: Homework

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Subject:   RE: Homework
Author: markovchaney
Date: Aug 10 2006
Let me preface this by stating that there are significant differences in the
student populations under discussion: the original post dealt with community
college students taking math classes. We've quickly split off into a general
discussion of homework for students of many different ages in many subjects as
if one size truly fits all. I think this is intellectually sloppy and very
unlikely to lead to much of use.

That said, there's a timely book being released this month by Alfie Kohn: THE
HOMEWORK MYTH: Why Our Kids Get Too Much of a Bad Thing.

Here are quotations from a review followed by a description of the book. You may
not like Kohn or what he has to say, but in my experience, his books are always
well-researched and well-documented:

From Publishers Weekly
"Education watchdog and author Kohn (No Contest: The Case Against Competition)
questions why teachers and parents continue to insist on overloading kids with
homework when there are no definitive studies proving its overall learning
benefits. Indeed, argues Kohn persuasively, homework can be detrimental to
children 's development by robbing families of quality evening time together and
not allowing a kid time simply to be a kid. Americans in general advocate a
tough-going approach to education and push teachers to give more drudgery
nightly as a way of "building character." Yet Kohn shows that doing forced
busywork only turns kids off to school and kills intellectual and creative
curiosity. The American insistence on producing good worker bees "by sheer force
or cleverness," notes Kohn, "reflects a stunning ignorance about how human
beings function in the real world." Kohn pursues six reasons why homework is
still so widely accepted despite the evidence against it, including the emphasis
on competitiveness and "tougher standards" and a basic distrust of children and
how they would fill their time otherwise if not doing busywork. There aren't
enough case studies in Kohn's work, but Kohn sounds an important note: parents
need to ask more challenging questions of teachers and institutions."

Book Description
"A compelling expose of homework--its negative effects, why it's so widely
accepted, and what we can do about it
Death and taxes come later; what seems inevitable for children is the idea that,
after spending the day at school, they must then complete more academic
assignments at home. The predictable results: stress and conflict, frustration
and exhaustion. Parents respond by reassuring themselves that at least the
benefits outweigh the costs.

But what if they don't? In The Homework Myth, nationally known educator and
parenting expert Alfie Kohn systematically examines the usual defenses of
homework--that it promotes higher achievement, "reinforces" learning, and
teaches study skills and responsibility. None of these assumptions, he shows,
actually passes the test of research, logic, or experience.

So why do we continue to administer this modern cod liver oil--or even demand
a larger dose? Kohn's incisive analysis reveals how a mistrust of children, a
set of misconceptions about learning, and a misguided focus on competitiveness
have all left our kids with less free time and our families with more conflict.
Pointing to parents who have fought back--and schools that have proved
educational excellence is possible without homework-- Kohn shows how we can
rethink what happens during and after school in order to rescue our families and
our children's love of learning."

On Aug 10 2006, Raz wrote:
> I teach an introduction to process class to new employees for a
> large manufacturing company.  My situation is different from high
> school because the students have a reason to learn the math,
> geometry etc. that is required to perform the work.

> teamwork is a very important part of our process I have adopted this
> concept in my class.  I give a test on the first day to determine
> the level of each student.  Students are organized into three person
> teams. Each team has one person from the higher level, one from mid
> level and one from the low level. I explain that there is no
> individual failure or mistake it is a team failure or mistake.  If a
> team member is struggling with a problem the team helps to work it
> out.  I caution them that we are not in a race but it does create
> competition between teams.  I give homework that would make a school
> student cringe.  It's not uncommon for me to give over 100 math
> problems for one night's homework. I give enough time to do most of
> the problems in class and that is where teamwork comes in.  The next
> morning we cover any difficult problems in the homework.  Then the
> teams exchanged the homework with other teams for checking.  This
> takes very little time because only the answers are read and
> questions are held until the end.  This is only one way to get
> students to do homework but it works for me and encourages teamwork.
> On another note I want to encourage students to learn as much higher
> math and communication skills as possible while in school.  This
> will increase the chance for employment and promotion. One of the
> first items we consider when looking at an application is
> attendance.  If a student does not attend class he is not going to
> show up for work so we will not consider that application.  I am
> interested in feed back on my teaching concept.

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