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Rethinking Homework

October 9, 2018

/ by

Jeff Hersh


It’s not clear who was the first teacher to assign homework, but certainly generations of school children wish they hadn’t! Student complaints aside, homework has been a crucial piece of the education puzzle for decades.


The Homework Debate


When it comes to school, one of the most traditional methods of education comes in the form of sending students home with work to continue the learning process beyond the school day.


Homework provides several key benefits for the student. It can be used to reinforce the lessons of the day with assignments that require students to put new concepts and skills into practice. It can be used as cumulative review. It also helps develop discipline in students, training them to understand the expectations of finishing assignments beyond the classroom. It also allows teachers to maximize the amount of curriculum covered during the ever-pressing school year schedule. .  


Is it still relevant?


Homework, at its core, feels like a vestige of a time when students only had access to textbooks and class notes. Today’s access to technology has changed the expectations of what homework can be and accomplish.


Modern Technology


No tool is more powerful at reshaping the educational experience for students than the Internet. It gives teachers the opportunity to assign homework that allows students to actively connect their work with others. Homework used to be a solitary venture, but with online educational programs and social media platforms, practice and theories learned in the classroom can continue to be explored and put into practice in forums and other online venues.


Relevance to Students’ Experiences


The key to assigning homework today is making sure it is engaging the student and continuing the process of learning beyond the classroom. Sending students home to read textbooks and answer comprehension questions or memorize facts doesn’t stand a chance to capture their interest, especially with the access to distractions and technologies students have at home.


Instead, teachers need to push the limits of what constitutes a homework assignment. Teachers should be pushing students to look around and explore their own lives and find examples of what they've learned about. Homework should be about communicating with people in their homes and towns and discovering real world examples of the elements they have been studying. Homework can guide students to see how the application of their studies exists beyond texts and tests.


Connecting School with Home


Putting the home back in homework is a way to not only ensure outside learning continues for the student, but it helps emphasize the importance and need of parents and guardians to become a part of their student’s education.


Whether the homework assignments are experiential and exploratory or based on the Internet with reflections and online discussions, encourage students to share the experience with others. An engaged student who is supported at home will find success and a shared sense of accomplishment that makes homework feel more rewarding.


Rethinking Homework


What teachers don’t want is to assign homework just for the sake of assigning homework. Relevance is key to keeping students engaged outside the classroom, as well as justifying the learning they share with parents and guardians. The way modern students intake information and learn skills is evolving rapidly, creating a greater need to have the process be connected with both their homelife and classroom.


The dialogues started in school need to continue and be fostered at home, so students are truly learning and not falling back to memorization and imitation. They are learning in ways that activate potential beyond the content of their lessons.



Prepare students for computer based testing.



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