Last March, I provided a link to the blog of a high school math teacher near Santa Cruz, California. The teacher, Dan Meyer, explained why he doesn’t assign homework. I dropped back in on his blog entry recently, and discovered that there were close to 80 comments, all worth reading. Read “Why I Don’t Assign Homework” here.
3 thoughts on “High School Teacher Explains Why He Doesn’t Assign Homework Revisited”
As a former high school English teacher, I’d like to know if “homework” includes reading–important preparation for literature courses and virtually impossible to do completely in class.
I might add that I am a fan of Alfie Kohn’s and agree with the position of the blog that way too much homework is given in the early grades. I believe this is what creates the distaste for anything school-related that pervades high school and has even begun to move into colleges.
However, it’s pretty hard to teach literature unless the students are willing to read it. I’d love to see this topic addressed.
I honestly don’t think parents are that concerned about reading homework, especially if students can choose their own reading and don’t have any requirements going along with it that interrupt the pleasure of reading (such as looking up vocabulary words, answering content-based questions, filling out a reading log, etc.)
When it comes to high school, most teachers, though not all, find it difficult to teach a literature class without assigning outside reading. I’m a big fan of Nancie Atwell’s books and I love her suggestion to high school teachers in her book, The Reading Zone. If, for example, you’re going to cover 8 books over the course of the school year, give your students a due date for finishing the books and let them pace themselves. You can even give suggestions for what they might think about while reading and tell them to make notes if they want (but don’t make them take notes on every chapter and don’t micromanage their reading). Then, discuss the book in the week following the due date, rather than on a daily basis when students have only read a chapter or so. That way you can have a real discussion about the book, students can read at their own pace and they’ll have plenty of time to read for pleasure at the same time.
I would like to add on to this. I think that even reading can be a difficult subject for me. When I was younger I had trouble with novels and short stories. I was so much better at reading factual material. Inferencing was very hard for me, I had to know a lot of background knowledge about the issue first. So, I do not beleive that all reading homework is 100% safe. I would agree that in many cases, it is less dangerous than math or science for the parents perspective, but still I would provide supports or allow reading during the schoolday for those students who do not understand the texts. I disagree with the “Summer break reading programs” in which a student can fail on the first day if they did not read certain books during the summer break with no tutoring or support available.