John Rosemond changes stance on homework

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by TerryJ2, Feb 9, 2008.

  1. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    Woo hoo! He's finally getting a clue that some schools and teachers "ain't what they used to be."

    Weekly Column

    Review child's homework if teacher isn't correcting it

    Q: My daughter's 2nd grade teacher does not correct homework but only checks whether or not it was done. In keeping with the guidelines in your book on homework (Ending the Homework Hassle) my kids do their own homework, but I do review their work when they bring it back home. I find that my daughter often makes significant errors (sometimes most of an assignment) and/or leaves many questions unanswered. When I quiz her about these mistakes/omissions, she can often give the right answer. When I ask why she didn't do the problem or assignment correctly the first time, she tells me it doesn't matter. She clearly doesn't take her assignments seriously, which concerns me. How can I get her take school seriously when the teacher doesn't? Or is this no big deal? I have stayed out of this so far, but will be meeting with the teacher soon and want to discuss it then if appropriate.

    A: Over the past ten years or so, I've heard this same story from numerous parents all over the USA and have concluded, therefore, that not checking the accuracy of homework or class assignments must be some new-fangled education “reform.” If so, it’s definitely having the intended effect. Many a workplace manager has told me that a good number of today’s young employees come to their first jobs believing that doing accurate work is not a requirement, or even necessary. One would think public schools would dedicate themselves to doing all they can to insure that America remains competitive in the new global economy, but alas…well, just alas.

    Yes, your daughter’s teacher should be checking the accuracy of her students’ work. (And please, teachers, don’t tell me you have too much on your plates already. My second-grade teacher taught forty children by her lonesome. She checked our work, and with an obvious vengeance toward lowering our self-esteem.) You should most definitely discuss this with her, but if you get nowhere (which is very possible), then you’re going to have to simply resign yourself to reality and begin pulling the slack. In this regard, I believe that in the current public education environment, responsible parents have to accept the need to do some amount of home-schooling; they are going to have to fill in the almost inevitable instructional gaps, check work at home, and act as quality-control managers.

    When my children were in elementary school, I noticed that their teachers were taking a rather casual attitude toward the quality of their writing assignments. As you can imagine, good writing is important to me, so I simply informed the kids that I would be checking their writing assignments at home and making them re-do anything that didn’t meet my—by comparison—draconian standards. I recommend that you do the same. Check your daughter’s homework and class work. When you find an assignment that isn’t up to par, make your daughter correct it or do it over again, even if the assignment has already been accepted by Miss Lazy Bones.

    Long-time readers may point out, and correctly, that what I’m recommending to this mother amounts to micromanagement, something I generally counsel against parents doing in any area of a child’s life. That’s true, but as we are told in Ecclesiastes 3:1, there’s a time for everything. Note that I am not recommending that this mom help her daughter with her homework much less even sit with her while she does it. Furthermore, I predict that in no time at all, the quality of said daughter’s work will improve dramatically, requiring less and less micromanagement on Mom’s part.

  2. wakeupcall

    wakeupcall Well-Known Member

    I thought this was what we paid schools to do? I'm not saying teachers aren't underpaid because I believe they are, but I'm no teacher and homework, especially pointing out that difficult child was incorrect, would give difficult child and I just one more issue to battle.
  3. jannie

    jannie trying to survive....

    Because there are so many parents who help children and/or do children's homework with/for them, there are many school systems who no longer allow teachers to count homework assignments as grades...they are able to "grade" them by inidicating if work was turned in or not. The teachers are also told that they can not grade homework if the work was not fully taught and mostly mastered...There are some assignments that can count.....Anyway even though I think it is wrong for teachers not to check throught it....I am comfortable with the idea that my teacher encourages me to assist my child with the homework process...that the teacher says any type of extra reinforcement 1:1 is beneficial....I'm not a huge fan of homework...but so far the amount of homework my kids of gotten has been reasonable.....what I don't like is having the teacher's assign what my chid should and should not read during independent reading time... the kids knows the county rules for I do wonder have much effort they are putting in each night....
  4. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Not a homework fan myself. Think it way cuts into family time and too much is given. However, if kids do it, in my opinion the teachers should grade it. That's partly what they're paid to do. I've been out of school a long time and lots of times I don't understand the work myself, let alone grade it.
    Fortunately, we have an awesome school district. There are teachers at school before and after, and my daughter does her homework before she comes home in the same room as the after school teacher. The benefits of a small school district are unbelievable.
  5. Kathy813

    Kathy813 Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I don't think that is a change in Rosemond's take on homework. He has always said that homework was important and it follows that it should be checked (whether by teacher, parent, or student is the issue here).

    I agree that in an elementary classroom, the teacher should check that papers individually for correctness and hand them back to the students. However, in a situation of a high school teacher with 30 students per class (5 classes a day), it's simply unrealistic to expect the homework to be checked immediately for correctness and given back immediately so that the teacher then can go over the mistakes. After all, the teacher only sees them for 50 minutes a day and a new lesson also has to be taught.

    At the high school level, I check for effort. I assign the odd problems that have the answers in the back of the book for a reason. I expect my students to check the work as they do it and star the problems that they have questions about to ask the next day. All I ask is that they make a reasonable attempt on each problem to get credit.

    Another reason for checking homework in this fashion is that at an advanced math level, students need a chance to practice the problems and learn from their mistakes without it hurting their grade. After checking for effort, I give the papers back and then go over the homework questions that they had difficulty with. I expect them to make corrections on their papers and then used the corrected homework to study for the tests and quizzes. The tests and quizzes are used to check for mastery of the material.

    In an ideal situation, I wouldn't even have to check homework since they would see the value in practicing the material. Unfortunately, most high schoolers don't have that maturity yet and even more unfortunate is that many parents nowadays do not support the teachers in reinforcing the value of doing homework.

    Of course, these are the same parents emailing me asking why their little darling made a 50% on the test ~ um, maybe because they only did half of their homework assignments and only learned half of the material??

    At an elementary level, you couldn't expect young children to self-monitor their work so I agree with Dr. Rosemond that each assignment should be checked by the teacher for accuracy. But that again brings up the question of whether you allow mistakes on homework to lower their grade when they show that they have mastered the material on tests after learning from their mistakes on the homework assignments.

    This is a complicated question. by the way, I went to visit an inner-city charter school recently where the students and parents have to commit to 2 hours of homework a night and where students go to school from 7:30 - 5:15 on weekdays and half a day on 3 Saturdays a month. They also go to school for 3 weeks each summer. They have raised the test scores of these middle school children to the top 15% of all eighth graders after entering several grade levels behind in 5th grade.

    It is amazing what a school can do when they have a committment from parents, students, and teachers!

  6. Kathy813

    Kathy813 Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I wanted to add that the charter school that I went to visit is a KIPP school which is part of a nationwide charter school movement.

    The founders have been on national news programs and Oprah Winfery as part of a "schools that work" program.

    One of the founders told a story about a girl who wasn't getting her homework done. He went to her home and the mom said that she couldn't get the girl to stop watching television long enough to do her homework. He brainstormed ideas with the mother to limit television viewing.

    The homework was still not getting done so he made another home visit. The mother again complained that there was nothing she could do to get the daughter to stop watching television. The founder of the school told her that he could think of something that was sure to work.

    He walked out of the home carrying the television in his arms. He said that the family ended up getting the television back after the girl realized that they weren't playing that little game any more.

    I don't want to give you a wrong impression, though. There was a real atmosphere of joy and love in the school. The kids loved the structure and really responded to the discipline and high expectations. You can google KIPP schools for more information about these amazing schools.

    by the way ~ the teachers are just as committed to the school as they ask the parents to be. They work 60+ hours a week (7 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.), 2 Saturdays a month, 3 weeks of summer school, and additional inservice training. They also are issued cell phones and are required to be available by phone to parents and students from 7 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. on weekdays and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekends. That eliminates any excuses on not knowing what the assignments were or how to do them.

    Like I said, it is an amazing program. My questions was, though, how do these teachers have any family time themselves? It seems like they would never see their own children ~ especially if they are small. The person that we talked with did acknowledge that was a problem and said that their teachers tended to be young and just starting out their teaching careers.

    Oh, and the teachers are compensated for their extra time by receiving 15% more than the comparable local teacher pay scale.

  7. totoro

    totoro Mom? What's a GFG?

    Terry I tried to PM you but it is not enabled?!?!?
    You need to enable it if you want to accept PM's... :)
  8. totoro

    totoro Mom? What's a GFG?

    I don't know about homework yet... K is only in Kindergarten... but she refuses it already. The teacher sends it home. But has never made a comment on it, has never asked for it. When we send it back, nothing, when we don't nothing... I was struggling so hard in the beginning to get K to do it, and the Teacher could care less!!! I was taking the time to stop and explain to her how much time we spent on it etc. She never cared...
    Now we spend time at home working on what I think she needs... I look up what the "great" school around the country are learning and studying and we work on that!!!
    Doesn't matter... K thinks she can put an engine together and understands evolution, knows more about snakes than most... she would never have learned that at her school.... She can even make a cup of coffee from scratch!!! She can saddle up a horse...They don't teach that in Kindergarten!!!! LOL
  9. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    This is actually an argument for homeschooling, which I did for a year. I was in a group with parents who homeschooled and those kids were smarter and more knowledgeable than most kids their ages (and far more capable of doing things themselves--self-sufficient). Obviously there is no homework if you do school at home, but school was made fun for most--they did not just sit at desks and do dogmatic leaerning. Many of them are now in college and I wondered how they'd do, because they don't socialize the same way as kids in school, but when I talk to them on break they seem really happy. So far not one of them that I know of (I know that I could be reading it wrong) seems to be partying. All are getting good grades. I don't believe anyone--teacher or student should give up half their family time to do homework. I also agree that when the teachers don't care, the kids don't care.
    My oldest son, the computer genius, never did homework. I don't know if it was because he did it in school or what, but he always got A's and was in advanced classes (guess he probably did it in school). He is a brilliant young man doing extremely well in life. And he did it without homework. I think homework is good for some kids and not necessary for others. JMO
    Our school is already near the top of the state in Wisconsin just doing regular hours without Saturdays. Summer school is optional. I always send my son who is on the autie spectrum.
  10. Kathy813

    Kathy813 Well-Known Member Staff Member

    MWM ~ The charter school I described was for low income inner-city children whose home schools are far below average. And as for their home lives -- let's just say that they were better off in school or doing homework than running the streets.

    The KIPP schools were designed as an alternative to schools where there were heavy drop out rates, teenage pregnancy, gangs and violence. 80% of KIPPsters are now going on to college so I guess that doing 2 hours of homework a night is paying off for them.

    The irony is that the school has had to restrict their attendance zip codes to low income areas right around the school because so many middle income families were seeing their success and trying to get their children into the school.

  11. Wiped Out

    Wiped Out Well-Known Member Staff Member

    The tone of the article bothered me especially the part where he is telling teachers not to complain about having too much on their plate already and compares them to his second grade teacher. The jobs teachers have today is different from when he was in second grade. Each year we get more responsibilities added to our job but are given no more time to plan for or teach the new items-by the way, they never say now that we are adding to your responsibilities you can cut back on something else. I also didn't like him calling the teacher Miss Lazy Bones.

    I don't necessarily disagree that the teacher should be correcting the work. I actually do correct the work I assign it was just the tone that he used. I don't know that teacher's reasoning but until I talk to that teacher about it I wouldn't be making the judgments he is making. Sorry, I'll get off my soapbox now.
  12. witzend

    witzend Well-Known Member

    When L was in third grade, I went for the teacher conference. She had hanging from the ceiling, cards with a description of what constitutes an A or B or C or D in homework. I remember very well that "D" work was work that was not done at all, "C" work was late and/or incomplete. Bearing in mind that "C" should be "above average", I asked her what why there wasn't an "F" there? She said that they didn't want to discourage a child by suggesting that they might fail.


    What the hey? Everyone might fail. Failure from time to time is part of life. It gives you something to avoid!
  13. Kathy813

    Kathy813 Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Sharon ~ I thought you did a great job on your soapbox. :soapbox:


    Witz ~ I just finished reading a great book called Generation Me. It's all about the myth of self-esteem and how we have raised a generation of narcissists because of it. One of the points the author makes is that self-esteem is built by accomplishments - - not by being told that they are wonderful because they exist.

    Failure can be a learning experience but today's generation of parents are obsessed with not letting their children fail and thereby "hurting their self esteem."

    It was a fascinating read.

  14. Wiped Out

    Wiped Out Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Thanks Kathy!

    Sounds like a very good read!
  15. flutterbee

    flutterbee Guest

    My son failed Language Arts 3 years in a row. When he was in the 8th grade, I asked they hold him back (he actually failed 2 classes in the 8th grade which means he failed the year, yet the 'placed' him in the 9th grade) because once you get to high school you don't get to just move on. You have to have the classes and the credits to graduate. Having failed Language Arts for 3 years in a row, I knew there was no way he was going to have the foundation for high school classes.

    The guidance counselor looked at me like I had grown another head and said they don't do that because it hurts their self esteem. They wouldn't even put him in summer school...because his proficiency test scores were good.

    Well, he barely passed 9th grade English and that was only because he had a teacher that took an interest in him and took time out of her day to work with him one on one. She told me that she was just as frustrated because she had a lot of students who failed LA the preceding year or more and she didn't have time to teach them what they are already supposed to know. He barely passed 10th grade English - and that was with A LOT of help from me. This year he has American Lit with a brand new teacher who I think has really good ideas, but needs to work on organization...he ends up bouncing around a lot and he has a disproportionate amount of students failing. And, guess what? easy child is one of those kids. He's failed the first 2 quarters which means he's failed it for the year. I have a call into the guidance counselor (several, actually, since first quarter) to find out if he can do summer school or if he's going to have to double up on English classes next year.

    As far as homework, if it's going to be assigned it needs to be checked. The way I see it, homework is supposed to be practice. If it's not being checked or gone over in class how are the kids supposed to know if they're doing it right? I don't care how they grade it or not, but it's important for the kids to see if they've made mistakes and how to correct them.

    by the way, the only teacher of my son's I hear from on a regular basis is my son's math teacher. Must be something with math teachers, eh Kathy? ;) She emails everyone she has an email addy for at least once a week to let the parents and students know what's on the agenda for the week. It's helpful to me because otherwise I have no idea what easy child is supposed to be doing. If he tells me has no homework or he did it in study hall, I have no way of knowing otherwise. Of course, this is the one class that he would ace without my intervention.