As I wrote about a couple months ago, I struggled for a while with students not doing their homework or not benefiting from their homework. I also struggled with realizing how little information it gave me when they did it. There are many reasons but here’s one that most teachers can sympathize with: when I grade homework, I have no idea whether it’s the student’s work, a tutor’s work, a friend’s work, a well-meaning parent’s work, or something copied off of Yahoo Answers. I also found that as long as students saw they got a grade, they didn’t ever read my feedback on homework anyway… so it started to feel like a gigantic waste of time.
After some reading (Alfie Kohn, Dan Meyer, Tom Whitby) I felt justified in my doubts. In fact, I became inspired enough to apply to speak about this at a local TEDx event centered on education. It was a really interesting process. After several iterations of my speech outline, the organizers decided that my talk would be only three minutes long. This seemed a little daunting, but it actually gave me the freedom to be concise and cut out a lot of the filler, so that what was left was the most important things I wanted to get across. I hope that it is enough to make people question the usually automatic practice of giving homework, at the very least.
Here’s the video – let me know what you think!