Wednesday, November 19, 2008

A missed opportunity

Last weekend, I had the good fortune to attend renowned author Alfie Kohn's lectures, part of St. Luke's conference "Creating a Healthy Community." Kohn's talk on "The Homework Myth" was particularly enlightening.

I am someone who has been conflicted about homework. On the one hand, I resented that homework reduced the quality of our family's limited time together. I also regretted that it has prevented our children from spending time with their friends and from pursuing their own interests. On the other hand, I told myself that those considerable costs must be outweighed by what—I assumed—were the following benefits:

· The repetition would improve our children's scholastic performance.

· There is only going to be more homework in students' futures so they should develop their homework skills now.

· The world is getting more competitive and if "our" kids aren't doing more homework, they'll get left behind.

· If kids aren't doing homework, they'll opt for "unproductive" outlets like TV.

· Teachers don't have enough time in class, so homework is needed to fill in the gaps.

Kohn debunked every one of these myths (and others) in his riveting presentation.

Unfortunately, there were very few parents and teachers in attendance—and not one Blaine County public school board member or administrator.

By insisting that our children do homework sometimes every night, we are making tremendous demands on their time and energy. At the very least, we need to try to answer the question, "Is their sacrifice helping them become healthy, engaged and successful people—or holding them back?"

Bob Corker


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