That didn't add much (I wasn't trying), but these threads always seem to turn into an echo chamber of "I got by without doing any homework!" because, let's face it, here we are. What is the 98% solution, I wonder, versus the 2% version? Of all that I've seen, it starts with better, smarter, well-paid, un-stressed, empathetic teachers. Students too afraid to think? Too pinned down to discover how best to learn for themselves? I just want to give all these poor kids a hug and tell them how smart they really are--it makes me so sad.
Knowledge cannot be taught it must be learned.
What makes rich families generationally rich is not autodidactism, but skill transfer and network effects. For example, it's easier to handle money when you've been around people who know a lot about finance and money movements than it is to autodidact-learn about money.
Civilization, Lords of the Realm, Caesar II, Robert E. Lee: Civil War General, Close Combat, Total War, Pirates!, Anno 1602, Europa Universalis/Crusader Kings/Victoria/Hearts of Iron, Age of Empires
Or to go way back, Math/Word Rescue, Treasure Mountain, Midnight Rescue, Carmen Sandiego, Oregon Trail, the crazy game that was part of Encarta, Dr Brain, Maxis Sim games all taught me math, geography, history, logic, physics, etc.
If you haven't played "Civil War Generals 2: Grant, Lee, Sherman" you should. It's Robert E. Lee: Civil War General but with the brokenness fixed—there's a victory point system that's in part based on locations held, which keeps you from just turtling on the nearest high ground and waiting for the enemy to come into cannon range—and a much larger campaign. It's kind of tricky to run these days, and is a bit unstable even under ideal conditions. Best solution may involve a Win98se VM. :-/
The Encarta game was awesome. I'd forgotten about it. Thanks for the memory.
Too bad that the only real option to play it these days is still 800x600 on a Win98 VM. If GOG ever offers a version that works on modern operating systems, it will be a "Shut up and take my money" moment for me.
Someday, I want to build a medieval/ancient set game with the same general mechanics...
Blizzard is never going to give away their back catalog (they'd sell it themselves). Neither is Valve. Nor, most likely, is EA, with their awful Origin service.
Then there are all of the newer games that you can find anywhere... Obviously, they've got to make money and focus on what pays the bills, but it makes me happier when I see abandonware and unavailable games get legitimate releases on there, compared to when its something already on Steam.
I remember loving Microsoft Dinosaurs—a wikipedia search for it redirects to a list including that and a bunch of similar looking titles under the Microsoft Home label—and Explorers of the New World, which even the Internet apparently barely remembers judging from the google results. They'd be OK for a 1st grader but those weren't even games, really.
Main issue is they're all old. A few are hard to run. Some are only available on used CDs. Not sure how they'd keep a modern kid's attention. I gather there are some good games like this on tablets and such, but my kids aren't quite old enough for that stuff yet, so I can't recommend any.
Side note: I'm pretty sure playing Doom, Dark Forces, Wolf3D, and other FPS games with confusing maps from young age is ~20% responsible for my wicked-high scores on spatial reasoning tests (Building lego sets from the instructions can be credited with the other ~80%) so, there's that.
[EDIT] wold3d -> wolf3d
I believe the core issue is just about agency: kids will enjoy and learn from anything and everything if they don't feel forced to do so. The best way to absolutely ruin a book? Make it a required reading in school. The best way to make a totally crap game that is neither fun nor educating? Make an educational game.
If you want to kids to learn and have fun at the same time, you have to accept the model of "entertainment first, education incidental" as opposed to "education in game's clothes". But that's hard to do because people assume, probably based on their own experience in the crappy school system, that learning must be about hard work. Yes, learning involves a lot of work, but it's not hard if you find it fun.
In other words, maybe the issue isn't whether or not something is assigned. Maybe the issue is whether or not the teacher cares about - and is excited about - the material. If the teacher thinks it is fun, maybe being assigned it is not such a heavy burden to bear.
My 5 y. daughter is completely enthralled by a spelling and reading game on IPad. This leads me to disagree and claim instead that a crap game is not made good by educational goals but a good educational game is provably plausible - it just needs to be a good game.
One of my favourite childhood games (Logical Journey of the Zoombinis) was all about maths, logic and problem solving, and I credit it for a lot of my early interest (and success) in those areas.
As a quick plug for something I loved - they recently kickstarted a remake http://www.zoombinis.com/ - I'd highly recommend it. (Not involved, besides backing the kickstarter).
Yes, exactly that.
My biggest problem with the education ecosystem is that adults try to bullshit kids instead of facilitating learning, and at the same time they forget children have perfect bullshit detectors - they haven't yet learned to question their intuition that something is pointless, or lie to themselves to get through drudgery.
Games are not made by just colorful graphics and telling a story. Kids can tell when you try to trick them into doing something they think is pointless, and it also erodes their trust quickly.
We are building a World of Warcraft-esque game for students learning languages, and we have people playing for 3-5 hours upon signing up (we had one student who signed up and played 10 hours within the first 24 hours of signing up). Students absolutely LOVE it.
I do believe the future of education is gaming. Unfortunately most of the world believes that it is gamifying things that aren't games inherently.
MMORPGs with levels, items, and avatars are games. Flashcards with points are not.
Kerbal Space Program in AP Physics (https://www.reddit.com/r/KerbalSpaceProgram/comments/1jcnyl/...)
Diplomacy [the Avalon Hill boardgame] in 12th Grade Humanities (https://boardgamegeek.com/thread/386460/diplomacy-classroom-...)
The second example is particularly fascinating. We can expect games to apply and reinforce studies in a technical field or to stimulate interest in history, but using a game to teach rhetoric and its ability to express and manipulate is something else.
Unfortunately, the stuff that's designed for education is Lame -- intellectually superficial, and boring for the kids -- and they know it. The companies that make that stuff are politically connected and mainly good at selling to school administrators.
It's been this way since the birth of the educational software industry.
Now I admit that I've never played video games, but I can't imagine creating an artificial learning environment that's as rich as going outside to play, making things, or writing code.
Games can definitely help with strategical thinking, "people skills", and even learning, but to say they're the future is misguided. Supporting children who have interests is the way I think is best followed, and that can be incredibly resource intensive.
Well, that's one way. Any teacher who has used word-searches, acting, rhyming games, etc has found other ways. Don't get me wrong, there are a wealth of awesome startups in this space making apps, and I think they have a lot of potential, but they are certainly not the whole story, until we have something out of "The Diamond Age: A Young Lady's Illustrated Primer".
Lots of good actual science takes place in the real world, and a video game can certainly be part of the solution, but there's a lot of room for engineering and whatnot that can be part of an autodidactical solution that won't live in an app.
My impression is that the CC curriculum (neglecting variations that I haven't seen) is so ostentatiously mainstream, that I can't fathom how it became controversial, except that people mistakenly associate it with standardized testing.
I'm a high school teacher in NYC- the largest school district in the country, and the complexity of this system is utterly shocking. I agree with what you said about most parents not having the tools to effectively advocate for their child's education, and I think it's true that the teacher is in the best place to have real impacts on students educational outcomes.
I have to stop there- was teaching all day, lost track of what I wanted to button with.
However, it's not at all clear that the status quo is effectively optimized to maximize the benefit for the bottom 98% either. Neither it looks like they are designed by wise, well-intentioned, experts. For the most part, educational systems around the world seem to have been an evolution through design by committee mostly directed by political motives. Since almost everything tried has been quite ineffective at moving the needle for the bottom 98% in any meaningful way, this serves as a good political excuse for not radically moving things around.
Perhaps educational systems should be designed for the top 2% and the other 98% would adapt as time goes by, instead of being crippled with that excuse? (not saying this is true, but it is worth thinking about)
I might be in a minority here, but I have an issue with that sentiment. Because before phones, it was "playing video games". Before that, it was "watching TV". Before that, it was probably "wasting time outside" or "chit-chatting with friends". There's always something else that's "wasting time", even if that "wasting" is infinitely more useful than the activity deemed as "not wasteful".
I'm from the "watching TV" to "playing video games" transition generation and I must say that I owe more to both of them than to most time spent in school.
> there is no other reliable and affordable "better" alternative to homework or standard test
I agree with that though. Standarized tests and homeworks seem to me to be an artifact of an increasingly complex society. Some of that complexity may go away though, if we advance far enough to get rid of the job market entirely (UBI, automation, etc.) - it's competition that requires standarized grades so that people can be compared with each other.
Me too. I spent a lot of time watching educational TV programming when I was a kid. I remember the day I made the sad realization that I had seen every episode of Mr. Wizard's world and there would be nothing new to learn from the show.
I think that there is too much emphasis on standardized testing but I do think that some testing is necessary. I think it's important to have some way to measure if teachers are imparting any knowledge on their students or if they're engendering a love of learning.
My favorite teachers(with some of whom, I remain in contact) are the ones who inspired me to learn more about the subject matter than was taught in the class.
In the US, that is still very much the case at a lot of companies outside of hiring developers in the tech industry. Can't say I entirely blame them as much as I dislike the practice. When someone lacks experience because they are entry-level, that is pretty much the next best indicator you have as to some level of intelligence and drive to succeed.
better, smarter, well-paid, un-stressed, empathetic teachers
Divide your attention across thirty energetic people in 8 hours. You'll still feel spread thin.
When elementary school gives way to high school, this ratio of time per teacher, per student becomes even more distributed. Possibly up to 8 classes of 30 students per teacher, each class lasting an maybe an hour. If you were to parcel out direct attention, such that each teacher spent an equal amount of time with each student, across the entire day, every student would get 2 minutes from each of their 8 teachers, in such a scenario. Maybe that's a 2 minute chess game, or 2 minutes in the confessional.
Obviously lectures don't actually work that way, but you see the point I'm driving at.
Parents with 4 kids feel stressed out by their own kids. 4 kids is a large family. Teachers probably feel the least stressed when there are no kids, or perhaps when only their well-behaved favorite students are present.
To be frank I suspect the standardized testing methodology was employed as a part of a conservative agenda to ensure private schools have an advantage. It seems to have spread globally under conservative governments in suspicious circumstances. In New Zealand it's called 'National Standards', and was introduced at the same time charter schools started receiving government funding.
For what it's worth, I think it did.
My daughter is in Grade 1 French Immersion in Canada and she is assigned a few sight words every week in French to memorize in addition to some French sounds (2 letter sounds). On top of that we try to do a bit of math here and there and some English. The teacher tells us to make it as fun as possible, so we try, sometimes I turn her sight words in to a quick board game. For math, we try to use the Bedtime Math books or the app. For reading, we read princess readers which she loves. Sometimes we try other readers and we push it, only to find out she really hates them, and sometimes the French sounds memorization is tough and painful. Can't imagine asking the teacher for less homework though, it seems like just the right amount.
Contrast that to my wife, and other people like her, who did their homework immediately after school (with a small break between of course) and got it done before dinner time, or perhaps a little after, then had some time to relax and watch some TV or chat with friends on the phone (pre-Internet days), before going to bed.
This is going to sound weird, but we deliberately put some of those things at a higher priority than homework. First of all, the scheduled activities happen when they happen. Second, some activities take more mental focus, it works best for those things to be done first. Third, activities such as music come before homework in terms of their value -- they represent gaps in the school curriculum, that we are filling in ourselves.
So, homework can come last for good reasons. Also, some activities require awake parents. ;-)
Now, about the 1am thing, that only happens roughly once a semester due to an exponential distribution of homework assignments. Each teacher assigns homework, apparently at random, and they don't organize or coordinate it, so the late nights are usually due to a confluence of multiple teachers each giving out multiple assignments at once.
The island of stability in that sea of chaos is math. The math lessons come home at a steady, predictable rate, and none of the work involves a computer, so it gets an early time slot.
So I generally didn't finish it all in the 90 minutes or so between arriving at home and dinner time.
So... what I'm saying is, there is the amount assigned, and then there is the amount that kids are actually doing, which are somewhat independent. So it's possible that the assigned amount has increased? or not. It's also possible parents are "better" now (this is true, I think parenting overall has evolved little by little for the better) and are keeping better tabs on their kids, making their kids do more homework, more than just the minimum.
Another data point, I was tutoring some kids in high school math around 2005 or so. There was very little math homework assigned, it was a complete joke, and these kids were going to private school. I remember thinking "what the hell is going on here, what has happened to education!" There was actually some Supreme Court ruling in the province of British Columbia that said that teachers couldn't give homework unless they were going to mark it. Or that they couldn't give "participation marks" for homework, it had to be marked on its merits or not at all. So a lot of teacher's scaled back the assigned homework I think. That's what I heard, I can't find a reference to the court case.
I had largerly the same high school and college experience as yours (at least I would describe it in a very simiar way), even though I received my education in a different country, where all educational policies must be significantly different.
So I think, it's not surprizing at all that it's hard to come up with a single resolution regarding homework that would fit every class and each individual student and their family.
That's probably where the actual learning happens. Also, it used to be "video games" before, and "TV" before that.
This assumption borders on absurd.
I'm /certain/ taking a break would have gotten him into a fresh mindset, and let him finish it all up faster. And, if I had /not/ put some hours between getting home and doing my homework, that it really could have taken me many hours to finish.
Just one speculative data point, but there it is.
One of my piano teachers was forced to practice through tears as a kid because they saw the talent she had. She went on to becoming a world famous child prodigy playing grade 8 pieces by sight-reading with unbelievable ease.
Work is required if you want to achieve something. You just need to find the right balance, and it's neither "no work" nor "work all the time".
...and did that get her anywhere as an adult?
It seems to me that so many people are excited when their children are ahead of the curve, doing "adult"-level things at a young age—and just assume they'll stay ahead forever, forging on beyond the norm, rather than reverting to the mean.
She was traumatized by figures of authority to learn piano, and she became a piano teacher. I'm not seeing the inspiration aspect of this story.
These anecdotes (i've heard a gazillion) always bother me. So what, now she's good at playing the piano. But what would she have done or become if she had the choice? Perhaps a computer programmer, or a doctor? Leave the damn kids be kids already.
EDIT: I emphasise that i have nothing but respect for those who play an instrument professionally, so i'm definitely not deriding the "piano teacher" part of this story. I'm complaining about the perceived virtue of forcing a child to do something they may or may not actually want, or that may or may not in fact be good for them.
Language immersion from home!
Such as learning how to play and interact with others. Learn how to deal with adversity. How to deal with the sadness of a break up or not being included. Learning how to lead a team via Counter Strike or WOW. Learning computers by writing a mod for a favorite computer game.
These things taught me far more than a worksheet on a very idealized version of the events that led to the American Revolution.
And on a different note the idea of a lecture in class followed by homework at home seems silly to me. Lectures are easy to scale so a child can learn from the best of the best in the world(With explanatory graphics). Tailored tutoring to the issues a child is having while trying to solve problems and understand a concept is very hard to scale. It seems to me it would make more sense to watch lectures outside of the classroom and do homework in the classroom.
Arguably you could cover everything again the next day but thats hardly a graceful solution and doesn't cater to that variance of time needed for homework across different children as contact hours are very limited as it is.
Homework also offers the opportunity for parents to engage with kids in their formal education - this helps the parents as well as kids.
Repetition is important. But kids are already at school for 7-8 hours a day. If that is not enough time to engage in adequate repetition, the solution is not to shift work to home hours. It is:
1) Do less, by cutting less important subjects;
2) Do more with the time given, by cutting students who disrupt class.
And how much time do you actually think is wasted on dealing with disruptive students? 10% of the day? 35%?
To me, this sounds like a recipe for creating an upper class of uncreative, poorly-rounded conformists and a lower class of people who are undereducated and permanently pissed off at the society that fails to serve their needs.
I think it's pretty unlikely that this would be a substantial improvement in modern American society or many others.
Kids misbehave at school for a huge number of reasons (many of them socioeconomic but definitely not all), and it's not really the public school system's responsibility to fix that, but it is the school system's responsibility to give them an education so that they can properly integrate into society as an adult. Shoving the problematic students to the side exacerbates this.
Bonus points if the education system can encourage more independence of thought and action, creative and analytical problem skills, and the tenacity and wisdom that come from actually having gotten some hard things done.
A better system would be one that is more capable of demonstrating the value of education to the students (incentivizing them to learn, and making learning at any level more rewarding), as well as one that can accommodate a larger degree of student interests and learning styles. I don't really know how to do this without having more internships and so forth, which aren't necessarily feasible for younger children but may be for teens. Maybe somewhere in the world or at some point in history this has been practiced more?
Misbehaving kids should get an education--they should just get it in a class with other misbehaving kids.
What specific criteria is there so that we segregate fairly, not based some delusion that normal behaviour between genders are identical?
Teachers (which are overwhelmingly female) overly punish normal behaviour from boys compared to girls. I wouldn't trust their judgment for my children of what misbehaviour is given their obvious discrimination that I've witnessed and experienced.
If you have to assign something to them to do at home, stick to just making them read a book instead. Right now they have to do both, and there isn't enough time for that.
If you keep doing that for a long enough time, no more students will be left in the class. So I don't think this a practical solution that will yield better results than whatever we have going on today.
You know where repetition is really important? In sport.
Muscle memory really work that way, with a "conscious enabled" repetition.
But for learning? Frankly you don't learn multiplication by repeating the tables, you really learn it by visualizing the repeated additions, thus by understanding it.
That being said, homework can be smart if it promotes self-discovery of a specific domain.
Also, understanding is not the same as doing, which is a distinction you fail to make. Understanding arithmetic multiplication is one thing. Performing it is something else, hence the distinction between mathematics and calculation. Calculation is very useful in mathematics, it's what K-12 and most college math is, but it's only one part of what mathematics concerns itself with. A physicist may be good at doing physics, but he doesn't necessarily possess an understanding of physics per se until he begins reflecting on it. Furthermore, there are many things you must learn before you can understand them because they require that you known things in aggregate and from a certain mature perspective. You must know the "what" before you can explain the "why" or the "how".
Furthermore, there is difference between comprehension and understanding. Most of what you know in the empirical order is comprehension of someone else's claims. You verify very little of those claims yourself because it is impossible for anyone to verify everything they learn. You take it on a practical kind of faith and trust that those who make these claims have done their jobs. If you end up working in the field, you may verify some of those claims, but in practice, science is a body of culture that is transmitted and only when anomalies begin to crop up do certain theories begin to undergo examination, verification, and reformulation by some scientists.
There is something to be said about teaching subjects with more context and coherence and being guided along a logical progression. Frankly, most teachers are awful, and compared to the classically trained, are a miserably uneducated bunch with little pedagogical skill. That and the idea of universal education is very problematic because it doesn't take seriously differences in students and the families they come from.
Well, to me piano is like sport, you get good to it by leveraging muscle memory, and when I was saying "with conscious enabled repetition" I was merely saying "no brainless repetition". I see no contradiction in our point of view here.
> Understanding arithmetic multiplication is one thing. Performing it is something else, hence the distinction between mathematics and calculation.
Multiplication was a maybe too simple example to give. Take bezier curve as a more advanced example: can you refute that you really get it threw visualization rather than by reapplying the formula on a series of homework assignation?
But turning entire learning experience into cramming stuff into cache memory? That's a recipe for disaster, it leads only for data to be quickly purged, and the time being wasted on re-entering it instead of letting the brain to generate connections and new insights in the main memory. The result is basically what you described.
But they only have that time if they sacrifice other activities such as clubs, sports and hobbies... or sleep.
School already absorbs seven hours of a child's day. In my opinion that is already excessive without the additional burden of homework.
Lecture with assigned homework happens because it's easy. Read a script, send home to mommy and daddy to do the hard stuff. Any attempt to change and you get a strike. There's a fucking strike every year now in Ontario.
You can't teach kids how to think about math when the focus is on mechanical mathematical operation.
When I work with him on his homework I have to undo a lot of stuff before we can make progress. Then he goes to school and they undo all the stuff we did at home. Rinse, repeat, it can really drive you insane.
Furthermore, he's already terrified about getting the wrong answer. He's so worried about doing it wrong that he is afraid to think. When he thinks he does just fine.
As I posted to a friend on Facebook:
arithmetic : Math :: spelling : English
It's a critical component, but it's not the entirety of the subject. But we drill, drill, drill it, and when people have trouble with it they say they're "bad at math". I know plenty of mathematicians (also have a math degree) that were horrible at arithmetic, but mathematics (whether for the particular person this meant some field of algebra or geometry or topology or whatever) itself was easy for them.
I tried to help my last girlfriend out with this. She is a teacher and a severe mathphobic person. It was incredibly frustrating, because she did get higher concepts when they were separate from numbers, but introduce numbers and her mind would shutdown. This attitude will be passed on to her (future) children and her students if she's not careful.
An hour before that, I was talking with another brother why 'oh, I don't need help with that because we are no longer on that chapter' is a horrible way to think about math, especially at a grade school level where you are building up the core foundation.
Second, look for "normal" books filled with words instead of numbers that talk about math and read those. When I was homeschooling my oldest son, I spent about four years picking up books of that sort. I got a lot of them off the clearance table for as little as a dollar. After I finally got my husband on board with my plan, I handed the stack of books to my son and said "Here, read these." For the next few months, there were no tests, no quizes, no written work of any kind. I periodically asked if he was still reading them. He periodically gave me a book back that he had finished. After six weeks, he began bouncing into my presence joyously announcing "I finally understand why you can't divide by zero! I knew it was a rule, but I never understood why!"
Third, look for fun ways to explore math. There are entertaining math books like "The Number Devil" that are a fun read and will likely introduce you to new concepts if you do not have a strong math background. I also bought games for my sons to play instead of doing arithmetic drill.
Last, don't let anyone intimidate you with jargon or with their failure to explain it effectively. (Write them off as "stupid" and move on. :-p) My oldest is still incredibly bitter about learning that "x" in algebra is basically the same thing as the empty space in basic arithmetic, it is just easier to move it around and lets you have more than one "empty space" by giving it a name. So that let's you have two or more mystery numbers instead of just one.
After I explained to him that X was the same as the empty space in more familiar problems, he realized he had been doing algebra in his head for years while playing video games in order to infer, for example, how many hit points of damage a particular attack did so he would know how many hits it took to kill something. He is still bitter at the system convincing him algebra was hard and something he could not do when he had been doing it competently for years.
Also, consider jumping in at the top end and working backwards. I read about half of "A tour of the calculus" with my son to help win him over and convince him math is your friend. Think of it this way: Just because you can't spell doesn't mean you won't fall in love with writing poetry. Once you are thrilling to the pursuit of writing a good poem, you will have motive to look up the correct spelling and spelling might start sticking.
Last, if you went through the standard algebra-geometry-trig track and have baggage about that, consider pursuing a statistics track. There are some very approachable stats books for laymen, such as "How to lie with statistics," and it shouldn't trip your "oh, god, I hate math and am bad at it" switch if you haven't previously been exposed to stats. Statistics is very serious math, yet many people do not realize that. I think the first chapter or two of "The cartoon guide to statistics" is the rough equivalent of my entire college intro to stats class. It is a deep subject, yet we hear statistics every day in the news, so it can feel a lot more approachable and familiar and relevant for some people.
I have no idea what your point is.
But let me use this as an opening to suggest that men with math challenges are not being routinely encouraged to give up on challenging careers and go spend their days with small kids. In fact, men who want to spend their days with small kids face the challenge that people look askance at them and assume they have nefarious motives and are probably child molesters. So I don't think women who are bad at math being actively encouraged to go teach elementary school is evidence that women are overall inherently worse at math than men. I think it just means that when we don't readily get something, people cluck at us about how nature designed us to spend our days with small children and why don't we go do that in some capacity.
My ex husband sucked at math. I tutored him when he took college math classes. He got really frustrated sometimes and threw his pencil across the room. He did not give up and no one suggested that, well, maybe you should just go do something easy, like teach small children basic things in elementary school.
You are welcome to clarify if your remark is an ad hominem or not.
Have a good day.
Teachers being unhappy with being teacher is a problem. It's partly because teaching is often an available profession, mostly due to how many we need. There are other things to blame too: Education is bureaucratic and regimented, this makes teacher dislike the job. It's the legacy of reactions to failures in the past, an attempt to make sure that schools can't fail kids. Class sizes are way too big, often. A class of 15 9 year olds can learn more in 4 hours than a class 30 9 year olds can learn more in 8. But, we need babysitting. Teachers don't have high pay or a respected place in our society. Etc. Etc.
The reality is that it's hard to do this right. It's easy to blame. Even if you're right, it's not useful.
There were good and bad teachers in all of those. However, the good teachers may as well have not had existed in the inner city/ghetto schools. Their talents were 100% wasted, and those classrooms would have been far better served with a police officer in front of the classroom who was enabled to boot the dysfunctional future criminals from the classroom. With those students in class, there was no point in even calling it school. Call it daycare, or juvie, or whatever you like - learning wasn't much of the process though.
I find it hard to blame teachers when their job is primarily daycare, and they have zero tools available to them to deal with poorly performing and disruptive students who have no business being in the classroom.
tldr; Almost all the US education problems can directly be tied back to the parents. Full stop.
This goes for my private schooling as well. The college prep school I went to was probably more diverse than the inner city school - the only difference was the self-selection of the students and parents who attended. They also taught with about half the funds.
That said, there are tons of horrible teachers too. The problems go far deeper though, and until you solve the parenting problem you may as well shut the public school system down in many areas. No amount of epic-level teachers will be able to get anything done in those environments.
Well, that sounds like a way to make more future criminals. Maybe send the police officer to the parents instead. If the goal is to systematize the production of healthy, non-broken adults, we want to get those children more of a healthy environment, and less of an unhealthy one—send those police officers to watch the parents, and boot them out if they're making their child dysfunctional. (Really, if we had as many social workers as we had teachers, a lot of things about lower-class life could be fixed.)
tl:dr; Teacher's can only ever be a part of a solution to the complicated educational needs of our society. And given what we're willing to spend, they can't even be a particularly effective part in poorer parts of the country.
Ironically, Baltimore spends quite a lot ($15k/student) on schools. Apparently only NYC (among the top 100 districts) spends more.
"In spite of what we're willing to spend..." would be a better phrasing.
But I'm anti-school in general (note: not anti-teacher), so the whole point of this side of the argument misses my interests.
You might be able to blame a teacher for a class to some effect. What I was referring to is blaming teacherdom for education. That's pointless. When a system consistently produces a result, that's the result being produced by the system. The teachers and students are part of that system, producing and being produced by it. It will continue, blame or no blame. It is just as pointless as blaming the students.
Following the money often works for discerning most dysfunctional systems.
You see this thinking in almost every metric by which we grade schools. % failing to pass test, % drop out, etc are all built on the foundation of measuring the efficacy of the achievement floor.
I think there is value in giving kids time to learn things that at outside the subjects that a school teaches. Eliminating homework gives kids more of a chance to do that, not to mention the other things that people have mentioned like spending time with family, playing, etc.
What I'm advocating, though, is that this should be, at least partially, at the expense of structured lectures, rather than homework.
Totally agree with you though.
I said "that's a weird question, what brought that up?" and she said they were talking about it at school today with the Dare Police Officer. I said "Oh you had a Police Officer in your class today?" and she said "Yeah, on Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays."
No one I've ever told that story to has ever commented on it.
I went to school in, shall we say, a less than good-rated school, and we didn't even have that level of foolishness during the "Just Say No" era.
Indian and Chinese students in America do as well or better than Indian and Chinese students in their home countries on any measure you'd like to name.
For that matter the same is true of Mexican students in the US vs. in Mexico, European students in the US vs. in Europe, etc.
 : https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_ethnic_groups_in_the_U...
How do you know that for sure? Maybe their higher average wealth is a function of their success as immigrants, not the other way around.
I'd like to see stats for that. I strongly doubt that's true of European students.
By ethnicity in the US:
but it's still interesting data.
Depending on the state, there isn't exactly sex ed in American schools either.
First off, my situation is not the norm anymore. Not only am I the single earner in my 5 person household, but I work from home full time. I am extremely active in my kids lives.
My kids are very fortunate in that they always have one and often times both parents to help out with school work.
My oldest is 9 - 4th grade. I have a 5 year old in Junior-Kindergarten. Both have homework. (My 2 year old doesn't count here, except when he's literally eating their homework.)
I coach little league, and I talk to a lot of the parents. Some of the parents have kids in the same class as my 9 year old. These are households where both parents work and have more than one child in school.
There is a drastic difference in support that the children receive. Now, I'm not smart. I have a high school education from Arkansas, which is always fighting with Mississippi for the worst rank in education standards. However, I consider my problem solving skills outstanding. I am not doing my kids homework, but I do look at my kids homework. Every night. I help them sometimes. I get on the white board and we go over things. I have them teach the methods back to me.
It's a difference that just last night, a mother of one of the kids came up to me and was talking about the math homework they had today. Her daughter had spent an hour on it before the game and still doesn't get it. I hadn't even looked at the homework yet, so I asked my daughter what was going on with the math homework tonight. Her response? Oh yeah, that's super easy. You can look at it when we get home.
So you have something that takes at least 1 hour (I'll find out more about it later if anyone cares!) for one student compared to something that is a nonissue for another student. In 4th grade. That isn't really sustainable. And I'll go out on a limb here and say that her friend who is having a bit more trouble isn't dumb by any means. I've coached her for two years in softball. And we're not special in the other direction, either.
Oh yeah - my 5 year old in Jr K - she has monthly homework assignments. Things like gather fall leaves and glue them to a piece of paper. Trace your hand and stick leaves on it to make a bird. Fun things like that. Not real homework. But she does have things to do at home to gear her up for the future.
Anyways. There are my personal experiences with this stuff in California's central valley.
Schools are designed by upper-middle-class people who care a lot about school. The problem students are from a very different background.
It's nice to say that teachers should be doing parenting for kids (building their self esteem, helping them develop as people, etc), but that's just glorified daycare. The poor students need to be taught to read, write, and do math, because that's what their parents can't help them with.
Education is meant to give every child a chance. I really think poor people have decent general cognitive skills (problem solving, relationships, etc), but really need a leg-up when it comes to formal academic work.
I don't think schools are really helping kids, when they shunt the fundamentals off to parents, as homework. 6 hours a day should be plenty to develop basic numeracy and literacy. But that's often not a priority to educators. It's more fun for teachers to tell themselves they're being parents - teaching kids how to develop as people.
Yes, different people have different aptitudes, but some people simply don't want to engage their brain. It's definitely a multivariate problem...
In my opinion the whole issue stems from lack of standardization in education in this country. The huge variance, even at a regional scale, in the tools available to teach coupled with the lack of standardized methods for addressing the needs of a wide variety of students presents a system that is often going to regress to the lowest common denominator (often mechanical drudgery given the ease in creation and evaluation) .
Firstly, the idea that a parent should have control over
homework in any capacity seems like a misguided idea
EDIT: unbiased to biased.
That being said, given the (in practice flawed) assumption that the work being assigned is something your child needs, it's a disservice to say some other home life takes higher priority than education. This is especially true given the additive nature of many topics. Imagine, in a contrived example, you veto the addition worksheet despite your child needing practice. How is he/she supposed to keep up in the next week's topic of multiplication?
In practice this falls apart if you have a high performing child, but, campaigning for funding for gifted programs or ,if you're particularly lucky, working with the teachers to get customized work is a far better investment than lobbying for the ability to just ignore the work.
The crux of this problem is that time spent in school is poorly spent for a host of reasons. If you child spends close to 7 hours at school and none of that time was available for the work that is expected to be done at home then that imposes an undue burden on the child and the family.
Rather than insisting that the needs of a schools poor use of time should supersede the families needs perhaps the solution is to fix the poor use of time instead.
Im not sure where you get the idea of poor time use from. Out of that 8 hours you need to fit lunch, recess, cumulative transition times, and at least 4 major academic topics (Math, Science, History, Language) plus hopefully a rotating time dedicated to the arts. And you want that to fit into 8 hours on top of the practice required to achieve mastery?
Finally, this is me making a value judgement. Just picking one class, math, I'll go out on a limb and say mastery of basic arithmetic is going to resonate much farther in a child's life than participating an extra hour in extra curricular or chores.
If they were at lessons for 7 hours a day, five days a week... yes! Yes I in fact do.
But to continue the metaphor, I would expect a child receiving five one-hour lessons a week on piano to be proficient enough to show they have received lessons within a decent amount of time. Without extra practice. But what's the criteria to consider it a success? What amount of time? Do we consider whether the child has a natural talent for it in the equation? Personally, I don't think it's a good metaphor.
If you had an hour per day of instruction/guided practice at the piano, you would absolutely get better. You probably wouldn't become a virtuoso, but the school system isn't designed to make people into virtuosos. That requires more practice.
I think this is sort of in the name, extra-curricular - as in, "in addition to the stuff that's the priority".
> and the education of chores at home
Here I will have to agree with 'lordCarbonFiber. You can't have teachers asking kids to do something and then let parents arbitrarily overrule them. One of the point of public education system is that the kid gets to learn something regardless of what parents think of it. You're probably a very responsible person, but the general population is a mix of people, some of whom have ideological reasons to reject parts of science, others simply don't like math, and many are just so overworked that they'll let the kid take a break at the first sign of difficulty. It's such a random mix that you have to enforce some rules, or else the kids will propagate further the faults of their parents.
> The crux of this problem is that time spent in school is poorly spent for a host of reasons. If you child spends close to 7 hours at school and none of that time was available for the work that is expected to be done at home then that imposes an undue burden on the child and the family.
Totally, 100% agree.
that AND this goal of "education" you seem to have is not the actual goal for most people. My goal for me or my kids is not to "be educated" Just like a goal of a society is not to "have laws"
In my personal experience (and I suspect yours given you're on this site) my entire livelihood is dependent on my knowledge. For me, this was cultivated on the lattice of the public school system (K-12 to university) but I'll freely admit I was lucky in that respect. My personal dream is that every child gets the same opportunity.
That you equate homeschooling with "denial of knowledge" makes me strongly question your intentions. If homeschooling is the denial of knowledge, we must also concede compulsory public schooling is the institutionalized withholding thereof.
You make a lot of statements without supporting evidence in this conversation.
So does mine. And almost everything I know about tech, and about the science and the world came from avoiding learning in school and reading books instead, or playing computer games for 8 hours straight to the point I learned English, and then decided to make my own, and then bye bye homework (and grades) and listening to the teachers because I have programming books to read (I ended up having bad math grades for a while, but I caught up - getting into game development tends to make you very good at school-level math very quickly, sans the bullshit they usually teach you instead of actual understanding).
I don't want to say here that school is pointless - but the best people I know are either ones totally ok with discipline and systematic assignments, or people who ignore all that stuff and learn their own way. Most kids get neither full-in or full-out, so they get all the disadvantages of rote learning with none of the benefits of systematic practice.
Schooling is not education, only a facsimile of it.
EDIT: I missed [lordCarbonFiber](https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=10459743 )'s comment, saying the same but better.
We probably would be better off with nothing. For one, abandoning compulsory public schooling will lead to an explosion in democratic, free, Sudbury and other alternative school models, as well as decrease the regulatory capture for homeschoolers and unschoolers. We are at a far better position than ever before in history to suitably practice autodidacticism on a mass scale, potentially with decentralized study groups, apprenticeships and democratic schools existing to augment and pool one's skills. Private universities will still exist and be able to focus more on research and less on being High School 2.0.
Not to mention such an arrangement would be more organic, in the sense of not constraining people to the uncanny artificial environment of public schooling, which does not mirror any other oft-seen real life institution. It's an odd syncretic chimera of its own.
However denying parents the input of their far superior knowledge regarding the workload their child has as well as implying (intended or not) that the homework situation does not need improvement is denying the very real problem that kids are stressed and overworked. Some as early as kindergarten.
One perfect valid grass roots solution to this is for parents to push back against the school. And unless schools start changing it's the only solution available to parents of those stressed and overworked children.
Why, may I ask? It seems intuitive to me that the school's influence over the student ends when class is over and they return back to their families.
And regarding standardization in education - that is what leads to a regression to the lowest common denominator (see the non-religious criticism directed at common core), not a lack of standardization. Ideally there would be fewer students per teacher (in a perfect world: 1-1) who are able to tailor the curriculum to the person, rather than trying to shoehorn ~30 kids of varying skills and interests into a one size fits all class measured by a one size fits all standardized test.
For the second point, I think we agree just have an impedance mismatch. When I speak of educational standardization I'm not talking to the idea that every kid takes home the same worksheets. Instead it's the idea that teachers have a better pool of tools and resources so they can address the needs to the students. In a perfect world we can have class sizes at ~10 (I think there is value in learning community that you lose if you take it much smaller than that) segregated by student ability. However, lacking the funding and push for that, these tools could be used to help teachers fully meet the needs of these larger class sizes as well as make the entire process more transparent.
I think the real problem is a lack of standardization in humans in this country. If all children were identical in form and function, as well as all parents, it would be dramatically more efficient to teach them.
A better example may be a typical college course. Most freshman courses at any large University can have an upward of 500+ students. Depending on how the Professor conducts their class, some students may find it is not worth their time to attend class or complete homework themselves, when it's more time-advantageous to simply scheme with others in the course. If you want a tangible example, pull up your favorite "study" site (StudyBlue, Quizlet, CourseHero, Chegg) and view the plethora of paywalled material for classes.
Of course, as class size shrinks, this advantage drops, combined with tougher content, typically better incentives students to attend class and complete homework individually, rather than as a group.
Of course what it should be is like at university. The professor can't spend all his time with you, so you get a rough list of what you should know about. It's then up to you to judge whether you need to read a bit more or a bit less.
The point is judgement. You can figure out when you understand something. You don't need a whole page of quadratic equations, in fact you don't understand it if you get to the end and think you need more. OTOH, if you only do the first two and you think you get it, you might be enlightened when you look at some further questions.
As a parent, it means instead of asking the teacher for more homework, which will annoy them, you can simply ask your kid some enlightening questions. It's probably a lot more interesting for them that way.
Part-time (law) professor here. Thinking of enlightening questions is often quite difficult.
And this is a big piece of the problem with homework. Enlightening questions could be asked as homework, but various forces create an emphasis on quantity over quality.
As someone who's taught arithmetic to lots of adults, I use 'enlightening' in a broad sense. I hope most of us agree that grasping arithmetic requires practice (in or out of class), but that's not the same as repetition. Even simple arithmetic problems can be varied in deliberate ways that draw students' attention to those variations and at the same time reinforce the underlying pattern.
It's a little evil but that makes it fun:) Example from the time I helped sister clear confusion between accelration and velocity:
- what's acc and vel of a rock lying on a ground (not 0 - a vector 0)
- ... of a car slowing down (vectors that poin in opposite directions)
- ... of a rock swinging on a rope (non-parallel vectors, one of them changing in direction)
I'm feeling for the teachers that have to teach something to 30+ kids without having the time to ask them about their wrong assumptions. Must be frustrating as hell when you see they don't understand, but can't help them with the time you have.
This does not reflect common US practice.
I strongly dislike dealing with more homework so I tend to spot check and count participation in the exercise. Realizing that I only have three classes and not many students per class, I don't know how K-12 can possibly handle homework in any way but purely participation. They tend to have hundreds of students split among ~6 classes a day to deal with.
You do a couple of them and you get superficial understanding. You might even have a decent mechanical grasp of how it works. But I'm yet to meet someone who can take topics of adequate complexity and actually internalise them without a fairly large amount of (progressively harder) repetition
You start to wonder if theres a way out, like any prisoner examining the prison with obsessive dedication. You follow the vine to its end and back pacing your room going through the mental anguish of knowing youre trapped and theres nothing you can do about it. (http://steve-yegge.blogspot.fr/2008/10/programmers-view-of-u...) I used to have this fantasy where Id go down to the school building in the middle of the night when nobody is there with a barrel of kerosene. Id douse the schoolhouse walls with the fetid substance and light it ablaze, laughing as the walls go up in smoke before throwing myself on the tickling flames crying and screaming and laughing in agony as I burn.
Im so glad to be free.
But high school was _rough_ for me. My grades weren't especially good, but I did a lot of AP classes. I constantly had the anxiety of homework looming over me. Looking back, I realized that I got into the state where I'd be behind on a lot of things, and once I had 5 different things on my plate it'd be really hard to prioritize them and I'd just stress myself out trying to balance them.
I'd like to have children someday, but I know that there's a chance they're going to inherit my style of thinking. (My dad is the same as me-- he also graduated college just barely, also procrastinated too much in high school.) I'd really like to find some alternate form of school that still challenges my kids, but does so in a way that doesn't explode their stress levels.
The block system meant that the instructor had twice as long with the students and could really dig into a subject. It also meant we didn't usually have homework because it wasn't necessary-the instructor taught, we learned, we drilled on it in class.
Fridays were an alternate set of interesting classes, from SAT prep, to bowling, to computer programming. I couldn't recommend this system more. If you must have public school, this is a great way to structure it.
I preferred the way my second high school did it. We still had 8 periods a day (magnet school, so the regular schools had 7). Monday was everything, it was a busy day. Odd classes on TR, even on WF. So you only had to do homework for 3-4 classes a night. And you had the benefits of nearly two hours of instruction most days.
It was more like college structure, but with additional courses (where most college students take 4-6 classes a semester, we took 6-8; some of our classes took multiple periods).
In your experience, does this method work equally well no matter what the class is or who the students are?
It's pretty well accepted that the sweet spot for working a job is around 40 hours a week. Go beyond that consistently and your productivity starts to fall off, to the point where you may well get less done than you would have if you worked less.
School is basically a student's job. Their output is learning. Surely the same thing applies? Yet we have the students "work" 40 hours a week at school, then have them "work" even more once they get home. If you go to school for 8 hours a day, then you have two hours of homework a day including weekends, you're "working" 54 hours/week.
By all means, give the students assignments. But they should be assignments the students can complete during school hours. If you don't have time for that, then maybe you should cut back on instructional hours.
As a counter argument, doing homework can easily train people to do thing wrong thing which takes a lot of effort to correct.
That does not preclude doing. In many cases mixing in 'homework' with class work is probably a much better use of time. AKA ask everyone what 57+49 is give them 30 seconds. Collect answers. Fix errors. Repeat.
In many cases mixing in 'homework' with class work is probably a much better use of time. AKA ask everyone what 57+49 is give them 30 seconds. Collect answers. Fix errors. Repeat.
Agreed. My school classroom experiences were mostly passive listening. The few that mixed listening with reading with doing, right there in the classroom, were marvelous. Little if any extra homework needed.
If that would be done? I think that'd be great. But if the proposal is just passive lectures in class and that's it, I remain unconvinced.
I know people will respond with "Anecdotes aren't data", but that's incorrect - they're just really badly sampled. Even if my experiences are uncommon they're enough for me to recognize errors and overly broad assumptions in other people's work.
Every time I read one of these it reads like "We're trying to make this 1940's era system work but it just keeps sucking more and more" and yet every time someone says we should just obliterate this thing and come up with something better, they always get shouted down by the educational establishment.
unquietcode up there has a great thought, and I know I'm deep in it, but yes, I got successful in howling opposition to, not because of the education system. We sit our kids in tiny desks and have them do clerical work for 9 hours a day while high school dropouts drive Bugatti's and we wonder how our kids intrinsically know that school is worthless.
Not sure what's going to come of any no-homework generation while this happens elsewhere:
"Teens in Shanghai spend 14 hours a week on homework"
When my parents were in school it was about keeping up with the Soviets.
These days, it's kids in Shanghai doing 14 hours a week of homework.
It was more of a global thing in Japan. Many workers actually did half a day on Saturday, so naturally were schools. Most of companies adopted 5 working day per week perhaps around the end of 80th.
School was a bit late on this one, when I was in Japan (1st year in middle school; 1992) was when they were start transitioning from 5.5 to 5. Although, I have only experienced having only second Saturday of a month off.
After I left Japan, in 1995, they've transitioned to 2nd and 4th Saturdays off, but It was not until 2002 schools in Japan transitioned to complete 5 day a week schedule.
I could sit down in class and be fully engaged an learn everything I need to and more. While I avoided some higher-level classes because often they were just the same as the regular classes with more homework, most of the classes I took were of the advanced level. I wasn't just coasting.
I repeatedly tried throughout high school to change my habits, but for various reasons, many personal, these attempts were doomed to fail.
I know I'm not the average case, but clearly homework is not at all necessary for every kid to do well in school. Other commentors have given the opposite anecdote, saying they did only homework and did well. I think maybe we should accept that these grading policies should be tailored to the student. At the risk of just rambling off my life story, I'm going to continue to show how these homework problems affected me beyond high school.
Despite these problems, I was admitted to a good state university. I had a 3.0ish GPA because I brought it up with easy A classes like band, and because I had several classes that where homework comprised only 5-10% of the grade. I guess that. combined with my above-average extracurriculars got me in. I then essentially flunked out after two semesters.
It's not that I didn't have the study habits. They were probably lacking a little for the academic environment, but I definitely knew how learn independently. I was just so completely used to ignoring my academic responsibilities that I couldn't stop. When you've been saying "I don't need to do this homework" for years, it's very easy to say "I don't need to study this thing" even though you know very well that you have a lapse in understanding.
I'm convinced that I would have done at least somewhat better in college if only not doing homework in high school didn't feel like not doing something that I had to do; if my parents and teachers hadn't treated not doing homework as a bad thing. Obviously it was in fact a bad thing, but it didn't have to be.
But then the university started, and by the third year I was in full panic mode, fighting fires. Not because things were hard, but because I've never learned the necessary endurance for systematic work (and powering through make-work bullshit). I ended up just with BSc, because I didn't give my Masters thesis in time. I had probably the most ambitious project in the entire year, but I didn't manage to wrap it up to into an acceptable Masters project (simultaneously working full-time at the time didn't help).
The end result is, I didn't learn discipline. The very things that enabled me to pursue software career are the things that are now seriously damaging my work output. That's the flip side of going for what intrests you - the modern workplace is something where you mostly have to power through boring things. Being self-educated can actually make you misadapted to the society if you don't learn some discipline along the way.
It's funny - most of the people I worked along with were hard-working but struggling to become good programmers. I was already a decent programmer; I was the one struggling to become a good employee.
When I went out of the school I was free to do whatever I wanted to do. I never did homework but was good student, not brilliant, because I considered the extra effort was not worth it, as the extra effort for better grades was not linear but exponential.
I took school seriously when I was in the school but when I am out, I am out. I rode my bike, I played soccer with my friends, I did swim in lakes or pools, I climbed mountains, I camped in the forest.
All those experiences gave me probably as much as the school and trained me for free environments.
I see the world as an environment I can change and I do routinely. Most people can't and I believe it is because they were trained to be good in controlled environments but just can't "think out of the box" because of their education that was so controlled.
I have seen miserable kids with not a single moment of freedom in their day. A girl of my class graduated with honors in the University, got tenure and suicided. She was miserable if she did not made perfect exams, her parents were like crazy "life is work and sacrifice" nazis.
They were not expected to choose their own paths, to make decisions, but were expected to follow others to be good guys.
Most of the best entrepreneurs I know of had problems in the school. Most of them wanted to do things on their own early on and the adult response was repression.
I have to admit, I mostly remember math homework, I loved math and loved math homework, it was always great fun to hack those problems and then problems with * and and * (stars for the higher difficulty). We learned concepts in the class, but we also needed to train mechanics with pure repetition. Some commenters wrote about scaling - I think repetition is exactly something which scales well in the homework, you don't really need to do this in the class with a teacher.
The same for foreign language, for instance. You don't really need a teacher a classroom to memorize new words, that's perfect for the homework.
So I don't think homework is unreasonable, I think it's a valid approach to "outsource" mechanical/repetitive tasks which don't require classroom or supervision.
Having said that, 7 hours of school PLUS 2-3 hours of homework is definitely too much.
I recall (with angst) the ridiculous way that homework was graded in school (x% of credit taken away for every day the assignment was late). This sets people up for a terrible relationship with work by making them focus on short-term rewards/penalties instead of longer term goals, while disadvantaging individuals who don't respond well to such a micromanaged model.
If we really want kids to develop well-rounded skills, we should make work about longer term projects, whose goal is very well articulated and its purpose is clear to students.
At the least, we should provide multiple paths for students to make the grade, one based on homework for those who naturally do well with that environment, and another based on long term projects for those who are naturally more "bursty" in their learning process. You can still administer tests/quizzes for both types of learners to gauge their progress.
My son had 15-20 minutes a night of homework in kindergarten and even more in first grade. He was a "late" (by US standards) reader, which meant that he could not be responsible for reading the instructions doing his homework himself. These nightly homework sessions were pure misery for our family. After 2 years, we felt that all they were achieving was to drum any love of learning out of our son.
After 2 years in a Montessori-like school, he's reading well above grade level, doing well at math, loving science, and has transferred to a new school with a Spanish immersion program. I feel that if he'd stayed in public school, he'd be well on the way to having "learning problems"
I certainly do not agree that all out of class work should be abolished. However, I do think there is a threshold at which it becomes too much. As I presume many of us on this website can relate to, there is lots to be gained through personal study and developing good individual working habits. Many students tend to complain about being forced to go to bed late, however I am willing to bet that many of these students (myself included) sometimes push their assignments back to later in the night and could go to bed earlier with more efficient scheduling. This certainly does not always hold true, sometimes there is just that much to do.
Being a three season athlete I have a little less time than others, however I have found academic success. In general an HN appropriate modification of the "time triangle" (http://cdn1.theodysseyonline.com/files/2015/09/02/6357682979...) has held mostly true:
Pick 3 for the day: Sleep, Academics, Sports, Programming OR Social Engagements
Also, a note about my school. It is in the notorious Lower Merion School District, which is known for collecting lots of money in property taxes from the local old money who send their kids to private school. Thus, they have lots to spend per student (every student is given a new Macbook Air at the beginning of freshman year to rent for 4 years. They receive the exact same laptop every year, to incentivize keeping it in good shape. Only cost to student is $80 insurance deposit per year. The program is extremely successful.), every teacher is paid very well, great facilities, and they perform very well as a school. There is also a competitive academic culture: you are expected to do well at Harriton, and many do. Where homework plays in that equation is unclear, but take it how you will.
My final point is that not everyone who isn't doing homework is sitting around watching TV or playing on their phones. Some have found a passion in something like programming, and actively pursue those passions in their free time (working on side projects, or perhaps even trying to build a company). Our district even provides a mini incubator with small amounts of seed money, free mentorship, and summer office space.
Sure, in the enriched environment you describe students are more likely to have the motivation to make the effort to learn and succeed. I'd guess you and your classmates are engaged with the educational process, ready, even eager to learn. Doing homework would seem the natural thing to do.
By all means it's right to take advantage of such favorable circumstance. The issue for schools and students not so blessed is creating this kind of benefit. The goal won't be achieved by strengthening the factory approach to education. Piling on bureaucracy, "performance" testing, etc. will not help, rather just lead to more discouragement.
I think great examples, like the one you present, give a clue. Find talented teachers (I've known a number of them, they do exist) and leave them unencumbered, let them teach. They will reach some students, and it will begin to inspire others. Perhaps they will assign homework, but then if we offer help to parents and students so they can cope with it better, homework would serve constructive purpose in augmenting learning.
Technology can add to the cause, but by itself is no answer. Used wisely it may play a useful role in evolving solutions, that is, realizing it's a means to an end.
Believe it or not, scientists have studied whether homework is worth doing before. You know, using science. Here’s one example of such a meta-analysis: https://larrycuban.files.wordpress.com/2011/06/review-of-edu...
Unsurprisingly (to me at least), homework is positively associated with improved academic performance.
Was that really so hard? Was it really easier to bloviate, as nearly everyone seems wont to do, than to actually pursue the evidence?
But the benefit to homework is that it teaches time management skills. Thanks to having hours of homework every night, I have learned to manage my time very well. For example, I spent the summer working in a University Lab. While there I spent ~10 hours a day at work, yet this still felt like a vacation to me. So yes, being busy sucks--but it ensures that students will learn how to manage their time effectively.
If schools must, increase the school day by 30 minutes or an hour, but that's enough. Other things are just as important as school.
Homeworks are important. It's the only time that they can think by themselves and put what they learn in practice. But after being taught so long at school, kids are tired to learn. They want to play!
Don't do your homework -> get into trouble -> teachers thing you're * -> etc.
When universities started to doing the same (in my country) I just quit. Now I work in tech, I love my job. And the best part is that I thought all the skills I needed to myself without the huge (wasteful) drains on free time.
Got a lot of hate from the teachers, but it only lowered my grades one mark.
Finished school with C+ so with homework I'd probably got B+
When I got home I played video games and later surfed the Internet and chatted all day.
This changed massively when I started my undergrad studies. I didn't have to come to university, like I had to go to school, so I stayed at home. After I failed all my Math classes in the first semester I started working at home really hard in the second semester to get all the Math done. After the first year I knew how to find out what was expected in the exams, something I was missing in school. I stopped showing up at classes and just created a list of stuff that was needed for the exams. I learned this at home a month or a week before the exam and kept working/partying the rest of the semester.
For my post-grad studies I switched to a remote university entirely and saved a bunch of time and money with this.
Since I had to work with remote teams on group projects in the post-grad studies, I also decided that I wanted to work remote in my 'regular' job also.
Long story short, I hated homework as a kid, now I only do "homework".
It always bothered me because a grade should reflect the percentage of the material you actually learned. Not be just an accounting of how many hours you spent trying to learn it.
Well, the argument in those cases is that tests aren't always a reliable indicator of the material being learned. Speaking from my experience, I was a great test taker in high school, and they rarely indicated my actual knowledge of the material. It's not hard for me to imagine plenty of students having the opposite problem.
Worksheets? Yes, I never learned a damn thing from these time wasters. I feel that mini-projects are the way to go.
Is this reading that's supposed to go on at home? I'm now confused as to how the article is trying to define homework.
But yeah, when I was in school there'd be 8 hours at school, then 3 hours of homework. And the homework was all busy work and the time spent in school was mostly pointless as well. School probably killed my innate desire to learn more than anything else in my life. It took me a while after I graduated enjoy it again.
The real problem is many classes are poorly structured and need to crutch of outside work to cover the material. Even in college I often found reading the textbook was more useful and faster than attending class.
PS: I still remember many math classes where attendance took 5 minutes, then 30 seconds of (new idea! yay), followed by 40 minutes of mind numbing boredom.
I think some courses could take inspiration from my English classes. In them, we had to read (novel or literary criticism paper) by ourselves, but in class we only asked questions, discussed the works and got help with our writing. I don't know if this can be applied to Computer Science classes, but I liked it a lot.
I learned LONG ago that my students learned so much more by DOING than by lecture. As children, why would it be reversed with homework? If anything, I should reduce the talking and add more Lego fun for kids.