Today’s guest blogger, Candace Hanson, is a graduate of Oral Roberts University and is currently studying Counseling at Valparaiso University. She is originally from Atlanta, Georgia. She just sent me the following piece a few days ago and her timing couldn’t have been more perfect. The Comments to Monday’s blog post are about this very topic.
Homework Discriminates Against Children from Dysfunctional Homes
by Candace Hanson
I have long thought about how productive homework actually is. In school I was the type who aced all of my tests, participated in class, and generally learned the material. But it never failed–the more homework I had for a class, the worse I did in it since I didn’t do the homework and completion was counted as a part of my grade.
Why would such a smart kid not do homework? Especially if it was the only thing that stood in the way of getting an A? Well my home life was not really one in which it was easy to do homework. I had an extremely dysfunctional family. There was always yelling and fighting. My parents were both pretty checked out, so my sister and I kept the household going. We were the oldest so we cooked, cleaned, did laundry, and helped the younger kids with homework and baths etc. When we got home, we were pretty much the heads of the household, and doing our homework was not only physically impossible, but school was not even on our minds at home–we were concerned with surviving and our siblings’ survival.
Now when I look back, I think of how many kids there probably are out there like me. Home is chaos, dysfunction, or overflowing with unreasonable amounts of responsiblity for whatever reason. How can these children be graded on their ability to complete tasks at home, when home can be an unpredictable, uncontrollable environment? How can a teacher mark a child’s grade down for not doing homework, and mark another child up because he completed it, when the fact that the child did not do the homework may be completely out of his control? Maybe home life is easier for child #2. His parents encourage him and help him with his homework. He has not much to worry about other than cleaning his room and practicing the piano. Is it fair for child #1 that his grade is dependent on his home, which is not his fault, and under which he rarely has control?
It’s just another reason why homework needs to GO! A student’s achievement as far as grades go should be measured in the class, during the school time. Whenever grades are influenced by something the child is supposed to do outside of the class, I would go as far as to say that this could be construed as discrimination. Students from less stable or healthy families are discriminated against.
Could the presence of homework be one of the many factors that is causing and perpetuating the stratification of society by socioeconomic status and race and contributing to the achievement gap?