homework wars

Mathematics homeworkImage via Wikipedia distribution license is GFDL Parent Pushback on Homework: But Not in Big Cities or from Tiger Moms | Larry Cuban on School Reform and Classroom Practice: "A century ago, another “Crusade to Abolish Homework” used arguments invoked by contemporary parents. In the 1880s, a parent and school board member in Boston complained about nightly homework his children had to complete:
“Over and over again, have I had to send my own children, in spite of their tears and remonstrances, to bed, long after the assigned tasks had ceased to have any educational value and had become the means of nervous exhaustion and agitation, highly prejudicial to body and mind; and I have no reason to doubt that such has become the experience of a large proportion of the parents whose children are habitually assigned home lessons in arithmetic (p. 32).”
Clearly there have been issues with families and schools since the beginning.  And schools that cause families stress do not support children.  Families differ in many ways including in class status and resources and temperament and style.  Not every family can handle homework regardless of the value. And I do not mean that poorer families cannot do homework; on the contrary, poor families often want and need greater services and support.  I think most families want and need greater services and support but few are ever asked directly.
“Homework wars,” then and now, are value-driven battles over the goals of schooling; they are not over factual evidence that doing assignments at home will lead to higher grades and better test scores. If anything has been in plain sight for decades it is the weak evidence that the amount and frequency of homework hardly makes a difference in academic achievement."
It is possible to have schools that provide services that allow the kids of Tiger Moms to take Saturday classes and do extra work at home while other kids do less.  We do not have to choose between these options but can let families choose them instead.  Longtime homeschoolers know plenty of Tiger Mom-types whose kids are doing three math curricula instead of one and other more homeschool families who do loads of art and music. Sometimes these families even join the same coop or class.

If schooling was customized and individual, it would allow families to be who they are and keep learning.  This would lessen stress on families and allow kids in all families to find ways to learn that fits with their social world.  This would make schools support the family instead of families supporting schools.

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