As reported on “Where the blog has no name:
More homework is being assigned by teachers and demanded by parents, but has Harris Cooper, professor at Duke University, points out in a Washington Post article elementary school students get no real academic benefit from homework. Read education professor Wayne Ross’s full comment and background materials here.
Most of what I have seen my children brining home since the early days of their elementary school experience has struck me as make work programmes for parents. Yet, many of my fellow parents would complain bitterly if homework wasn’t assigned. Perhaps the research results being produced by Harris Cooper can help to shift the balance toward more engaged forms of learning.
As Wayne Ross points out in his comment we
need to transform the typical school assignments from individually completed, convergent thinking tasks into what Elizabeth Cohen, in her book Designing Groupwork: Strategies for the Heterogeneous Classroom has labeled as “multi-task activities,” which foster the development of complex or higher order thinking and equal access to instruction through cooperative group work.
To do this, however, will require smaller classrooms, better resources, and a sincere commitment to real learning. Our education systems remain to heavily linked to industrial widget production models –despite all the rhetoric of education ministers and their advisors- in which the mastery of a core set of skills is the be all and end all of education.
On a related matter noted author and educator, Alfie Kohn, has been invited by the Vancouver District Parent’s Advisory Council in cooperation with the Vancouver Elementary School Teachers Association and the Vancouver School Board to speak with parents on October 19th, 7:00 – 9:00 pm, Macgee Secondary School Auditorium. There is no charge for this event. Alfie Kohn will speak on the pitfalls of standardized testing.