Aah Christmas break, or winter break, as we call it in my district so as not to offend anyone with our secularism. The students eagerly awaiting when I would drop the bomb; the homework bomb. How much would I require to make them do during their break, what projects would they have to cram in the final night of vacation? I could tell they were anxious, I could tell they worried, and yet I waited. After all, we had things to do. So on the very last day before break, I stood by our assignmet board and I told them the news; You have no homework. You can read a book if you want, you can blog if you want, you can relax, and come back recharged. We have much to do in the new year and you will need your energy. Silence. Then a few mumbled thank you’s.
I am nothing special, I am not alone in the refusal to assign homework over break. However, I take it one step further when I say that we have to stop pretending that education is the MOST important thing in life. True, education is important, it shapes people and their lives, but it is not the most important and it never will be. Yet, we as educators, treat it like it is. We treat missed homework assignments as if they are the end of the world, as if this child will continue on a path of failure because they didn’t do whatever thing we told them to do in their free time. We treat missing school as if they will never catch up again, as if their learning journey will be stunted and never start again. We treat sickness as an inevitable nemesis and we hope the students come back to scholl as quickly as possible so as not to miss anything and then wonder when they stare at us with listless eyes.
We must stop the infringement on students’ free time. Their vacations are not ours to control, otherwise school would still be in session. Their afternoons are not for us to manage, but their parents, and if their parents want to them to do work then so be it, but it is not ours to use whichever way we see fit. We complain sometimes of how much work teaching is, how we can never fit everything in to our day, how draining it can be, how teaching is a 24-hour job. We dream of vacation and of feeling like we did enough, and yet, we do the same to our students. We force hours of homework upon them all in the name of education. We force them to work when they have already given 7 or 8 hours of their best time. We take away their time and then complain when we do not get the results we expected.
So stop the madness. Stop assuming that their free time is ours because what we have to say and make them do takes precedent over everything else in their life. Yes, education is important, but our worksheets, projects, and packets are not. Remaining curious, a willing explorer, and a never-ending learner that is more important. Wanting to learn in important, being rewarded with free time for the hard work during school hours is important, being treated as if their time is, indeed, their time that is important. Coming back to school, eager to be there, because a break is what was needed, that is important for all of us. So do yourself a favor, no more homework. Keep your learning within designated hours as much as possible. Particularly during breaks. Give students what they so deserve, their own time, and take some for yourself as well. You work hard, you deserve it as much as they do.
- Give ‘Em a Break (mrspripp.blogspot.com)
- Ten Reasons to Abolish Homework (And Five Alternatives) (coopcatalyst.wordpress.com)