As part of my previous article on homework, I did read an older article from 1999 that could have been written today. But I did not use or source it because it seemed a bit old and dated. However it does introduce one cause of the homework epidemic that I did not give adequate attention to.
For sure the accountability movement and testing climate have driven much of the homework given, there is one other notable factor driving homework and the problems associated with it.
Namely a certain demographic of parents. That’s right, there are parents who are demanding homework for their kids. If there is no homework, the parents assume it is a poor school or that their student is not learning anything. To be sure, I would not advocate *no* homework, but would strive to cut the current load in half, at least. But some parents are convinced the more homework will somehow give their children a competitive edge and parents who fuss and complain about there not being enough homework tend to be competitive overachievers.
I would guess that very few of these are parents of students with disabilities. Those of us that have to deal with issues of poor attention, sensory issues, cognitive deficits and and any sort of behavior issues are clamoring for more homework. In fact, I would argue that for students with disabilities, less is more. Since they may languish longer in the acquisition stage, the amounts need to be bite-sized until some level of competence is achieved to where they can do it independently.
One other thing that I need to reiterate, based on my latest experiences with homework, is that sometimes even 4th grade math becomes too difficult to teach our own kids. It’s not that I can’t multiply 2-by-2-digit numbers. I can. But the way it is taught now is entirely different and totally confusing and non-intuitive to those of us who learned to do this over 20 years ago. I know that the more mathematically inclined may be able to make complete sense of this but it took me several passes to figure this out for my gifted 4th grader. I eventually got the idea, but even after I did and we were able to show our work and get the right answer, it still was not the way his teacher wanted it.
Welcome to a world where conformity is rewarded and innovation is punished or at best dismissed.