At first, he eagerly tackled the work: the coloring pages, the sight words, the beginning math in the form of counting and circling things in different colors.But then as the weeks wore on, he started to dread the work.Homework, or , should be chosen by the child if it is to encompass true learning.
I watch as my 8-year-old pushes through the front door ahead of me, tosses his coat to the right, somewhere in the direction of the coat hooks lined along the entryway, kicks off his shoes slightly further down the line, and grabs the thick sixth book of Harry Potter, which he is devouring in record time, for the fourth time.
He then plops down on the couch, not to be disturbed or interrupted by even the loudest yells and shrieks of joy from his younger brothers for the next two hours.
If the parent leaves the child to remember to do her homework herself, there is often backlash from the school in the form of phone calls, emails, notes home, or meetings regarding the lack of homework enforcement.
How much responsibility or independence is a child really learning through this dynamic?
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One might argue that time management and study skills can be learned during the seven hours children are in school; nothing magical happens when they enter their own homes to make time management skill acquisition happen.
Oftentimes the burden of enforcer simply transfers from teacher to parent once the child is home — the parent is expected to remind the child of her responsibility to complete her homework before she engages in any other activities, or even introduce reward or punishment systems in order to reinforce homework completion.
According to Kohn, homework may be the “single most reliable extinguisher of the flame of curiosity.” What homework does seem to teach is not critical thinking skills or a love for learning, but an ability to do what one is told, complete instructions, and regurgitate facts onto a test the following day.
This is in fact an extremely shallow view of learning, as standardized tests are a poor measure of intellectual proficiency.