A study by the General Teaching Council for England reports parents across the social/economic spectrum are asking teachers to run sessions that will help them to understand the curriculum and what is being taught their children. They also want schools to provide them with “homework examples” so they can better assist their children. The report noted that due to dual career parents, the old model of mom sitting at the kitchen table and helping a child do homework is no longer feasible. Educators constantly urge parents to be their while children are doing homework as a means of getting involved in their lives.
Lost in the cry for enabling parents assist their children is a far more fundamental question– is doing homework of any worth in learning? I have taught for 51 years at all levels of education from grade 7-12 and then at the college level. In my experience there is not the slightest piece of evidence asking students to do additional examples or copy material out of textbooks is of any worth other than wasting time and making students bored with learning. Parents should be asking if homework assignments ask students to “use” what they have learned in meaningful ways rather than do “more” of what they have been doing in class. For example, if my children are learning causes of the American Revolution, the homework assignment should be asking them to investigate causes of family disputes since concepts such as economic causes or power causes are just as evident within a family as between nations. That type of “using what is learned” approach enables students to become learners not memorizers.
In all honesty, after 51 years of teaching over 15,000 teachers it is clear less than 1% have students engage in homework that stimulates critical or creative thinking.