Or maybe there shouldn’t be any. Some urban schools are giving up on homework. Los Angeles Unified this summer created a homework policy that decreased its importance (until it was overturned). The argument goes, Students of color don’t do homework, so assigning it is a waste of time and only hurts them.
Then others, like Alfie Kohn, think that homework should be abolished altogether because it steals students’ childhoods.
At my school, we don’t dispute the importance of homework. After all, our students need to extend their learning time in order to catch up. Our problem is encouraging our students to do homework, especially on weekends. For many of our students, school is their first job, and 35 hours a week is sufficient. Spending two or three more hours every night on academics seems like a second shift.
For my AP English students, however, homework is necessary. We’re in class only five hours a week. That’s nothing, especially because we’re competing against students across the country who are also putting in considerable homework hours.
But even though homework is necessary, I do need to think about how to make it interesting and fun. Reading tons of pages from an assigned text is nobody’s definition of fun. That’s why I’m thinking of ways to make homework more social, more public, and more meaningful. I’ll let you know about them soon.