Hey, what a great topic for an initial post! Here's the deal. I've been a high school teacher for twelve years. In those twelve years, I've experienced a lot of crap. Our entire education system is founded on some pretty stupid ideas. Today's convention we uncritically accept: homework.
My daughter is a kindergartner. She routinely has homework. Kindergarten. homework. What the Hell does she need homework for? Is our school system trying to condition children to accept the idea that their entire lives should revolve around school? At the high school level, I see kids routinely spending several hours per night laboring away. Each of their six teachers feel it is their duty to assign at least a hour of homework every night.
I recently read an article by Alfie Kohn (http://www.alfiekohn.org/teaching/edweek/homework.htm). It perfectly outlines my own objections to homework. For brevity, I won't rehash Alfie's arguments. I'll focus on this one issue.
As teachers, are we really doing such a shitty job in the classroom that we need to supplement our lessons with a load of added crap? Our ultimate goal should be to efficiently and effectively teach what has to be taught within the time frame of our schedule. If we need more time, something is wrong. Maybe we're making our lessons unnecessarily complex. Maybe we're expecting our kids to do too much. Maybe we're using teaching methods that are ineffective. Maybe we should look for a simpler solution.
Alfie does a great job of outlining the rationale against homework. I think this is a perfect example of an ineffective institution we willingly and uncritically accept because it has always been done that way.