If one takes a good look at teachers, as a whole, the population would be considered quick-to-judge. Naturally, this comes from years when teachers made an assumption and were ultimately proven correct. Vatterott (2009, p. 47) claims this is because it is “easier to judge children as unmotivated or lazy than to reflect on our own teaching methods or to admit we don’t have the tools, experience, or training to meet individual students’ needs.” While Vatterott may represent that other side of the homework debate, her words hold a strong truth in the educational profession. After only three months of full-time, independent teaching (and three months of cooperative, student teaching), I have come to believe that students are [were] lazy for not doing their homework. While I do not believe Vatterott changed my beliefs on homework, she definitely provided a perspective to consider that I had never once began to think about.
I have a couple students who, no matter what the assignment is, do not complete their homework. Currently, my students in 8th grade are learning about media literacy and they are given worksheets to reinforce the topic we discussed that day. For instance, we learned about 10 forms of propaganda and, as their assignment, I handed each a sheet with a different advertisement on it. They needed to determine which form of propaganda was presented and write 4-5 sentences on why they felt their opinion was correct. While I had 70% of my students complete this assignment, I had that handful of students who didn’t write a single word on the page. I could understand how that assignment would be the one to be forgotten. The next one, to further examine Print Advertisements, students needed to answer five multiple choice questions about an 1861 ad. Still, I had students that didn’t answer a single question. I don’t understand how five questions are too much; my head instantly dubs these students as lazy.
I feel, if anything, this discussion is opening my eyes to a different side of homework. Like it was said during the face-to-face discussion, I was actively involved in high school and still completed my homework. I understand that some students may have difficulty doing so (part-time jobs, extracurricular activities, etc.), but at what point are we, the teachers, making excuses for our students. And at what point are they, the students, realizing that if they spin their story the correct way, they can avoid all the homework they want.
I have a student who was told, if he/she ever feel overwhelmed, he/she would not have to complete his/her assignments for my class. Just my class. I wouldn’t have thought anything of it until those words, “I felt too overwhelmed to do this” came out of his/her mouth. A student in Junior High would not use that type of language. He/she listened. He/she heard what his/her teachers said and realized, if he/she spun his story toward those words, he/she could avoid the work.
Don’t get me wrong – I agree that we need to be conscious of students’ lives outside of our school, but never would I agree with cutting homework. While it may not teach organization or time-management (as Vatterott claims), it does teach students to work. They cannot skid by through school without ever having to be responsible for something. Whether that is five multiple choice problems or a 10 page paper, students must be held accountable for homework. To give them none would only damage them later. No matter what profession they choose, they will have some type of homework. And no one is going to eliminate their homework for them. It just doesn’t happen.