Reporter Anne Marie Owens contacted me after I posted on the topic and followed up on some of the comments over at Rob Paterson’s blog (where all the good conversation is on this stuff). Anne Marie used a couple of us to illustrate a nice review of recent research on the topic.
Those that read here know that we engage in life learning with our kids, sometimes called unschooling. Amanda Cockshutt is the other parent quoted in the article and she is campaigning within the school system in New Brunswick to have homework reduced. At Rob’s blog she tells her story:
Homework has been a revolting experience for us the past year. My son was in grade 2 last year and would routinely spend an hour on the “20 minutes” the teacher assigned every night. Boring? Unbelievable. When I approached the school about it, I got a huge great justification of the process, with the usual arguments about making good habits… What really got me though, was the suggestion that after 20 minutes we stop and send a note that it hadn’t been completed, after all, it was the process not the product that was important. Now, I’m no raging capitalist, but I know that we live in a product driven society. I also know from my experience teaching university, that I don’t really care how long the student took to complete the assignment, it was the product that was graded not the time it took. If the lesson that students are to learn is that they can call it quits when the time is up, then we are sliding down a very slippery slope indeed.
What’s useful to know is that there are options. If you’re in school and you think homework is worse than a bad idea, you might be surprised to learn that many educators are actually on your side, as Anne Marie’s article points out. And there are lots of teachers and local school folks that are thinking carefully about all this.
And of course, there is always the option to do what we do and unschool, homelearn or life learn. That’s a whole other trip, but one that I have never regretted taking. It’s a rich and deep experience creating and supporting autodidacts and life learners in our family.
Thanks to Alex for getting this idea started all the way from Denmark, and for Rob and Matthew and Amanda and Anne Marie for hosting and engaging in the conversation.
[tags] homework, National Post[/tags]
Got a 404 on the National Post link
Fixed now…tx. Also archived against link rot here.
Link – http://mythoughtsandvoice.blogspot.com
Yes I agree, homework not only robs us of our short amount of time with our children but also places stress on kids and leads to absenteeism. We definitely experienced that boycotting homework (or simply forgetting it) lead to a not wanting to go to school to face the teachers’ wrath the day it was due. I think my child has developped a dislike for school for this reason. I blame myself because I righteously boycotted the homework thinking that they had her for enough time during the day that the evenings were for us to have fun. But then she didn’t learn to read… well not to the level they wanted it. And I said to myself that they are pushing her too hard, Waldorf says kids aren’t even physiologically ready to read until about 9 or ten… but our school system pushes children to be literate early, I believe because so many other activities, especially homework, is literacy-based thus if my child does poorly at reading, particularly reading for information (as opposed to for pleasure) then almost all of her other subjects will suffer. It’s much easier for the teacher to pass around a handout with math problems than to have to explain each one. The teacher needs to rely on it earlier due to class size and increased expectations, at least here in Ontario. Anyway I thought I’d offer my 2 cents, and congrats on getting front page of the national post. It caught my eye and led me here. I can’t tell you how difficult this one issue makes my life, but its part and parcel with the adjoining issues in public education today… we have a crisis in our schools like a ticking time bomb.
We have experienced frustration with holding our children to standards too. The truth of it is that no one can look at a chart and then tell you whether your kid should or should not be able to do something. Many unschoolers are “late” readers but when they finally do pick it up they become dedeicated readers. I don’t know any unschoolers who don;t read voraciously. With a well developed ppassion for learning, reading becomes what it really is: a tool, not an end in itself.
For kids who have highly developed auditory senses, being forced to read early does double damage. It causes them to “turn off” their auditory capacities and forces them into a frustrating experience which messes with their self-confidence.
I have sympathy for parents that need to leave their kids in school, but I strongly encourage folks to look at the options that meet your needs better. It’s all more work than school, but that’s the only way to really get the learning environment you and your child want.
That’s my experience. Thanks for dropping by!
You’ve inspired me and encouraged me to learn more about this “unschooling”. For a couple years now I’ve been searching for alernatives to school. The misconception of natives should “go to school and get an education.” has been plastered onto my life since I was a child. (Along with the enforeced “only post-secondary graduates ever do anything amazing in life, find a job they love and make lots of money.)
But with my niece or newphew (Due Date: Oct. 31st), I’m excited to brainwash a new indigenous revolutionary in my family. As I said, I want to learn more about the unschooling in the hopes I may find an alternative, based on Indigenous Principles to educate the new generation in my family.
I’ll take your recommendation of the book and read it next, after Our Word is Our Weapon and The Way of the Peacful Warrior. I also have Pedagogy of the Oppressed in my bookshelf to get to one day (soon I hope).
All I can say is, you’ve made a believer out of me. 🙂
Wow. Way to make waves…that’s some kind of mainstream coverage for your post. Nice shot of you guys at the swings too.
Never knew you were so tight with the lefties at the National Post,
As an educator, I am fascinated with the experiences of many of my peers in my paying job with school age kids. Every one has a horror story to tell with homework, the end result being that their children hate it. This attitude is spilling over into their perception of school and learning. Schooling is something everyone agrees is important, but very few have the courage, having come to believe in their own inadequacy in the way they were indoctrinated with in most school systems, to break out and unschool their own children as you are doing. In my experience, most kids are joyful sponges and learn without trying! It is we, the adult/educators who keep putting on the brakes!
Dustin: My recommendation is that you read the Grace Llewellyn book FIRST. You don;t have much time left!
John…you know me…I always manage to find the good people!
Kait…cogent observations. It’s one example of what I call putting the Open Space worldview to work in life. Unschooling kids recognizes that, just like in the rest of the world, when we provide time and space, people of all ages take responsibility for what they love. It might mean being a little more active in supporting some things, but the basic questions is “what else can we NOT do?”
Thanks all for commenting.
[…] Chris was then contacted by a national canadian paper and was on the front page last weekend. He wrote more about it here and here. […]
hey I think this is a good is a good idea and we should bann homework an then we could focous on sports and boys,
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