What the purpose of homework is and whether or not it should exist is an issue that opens the door to a variety of opinions. Some see homework as busy work or unnecessary reinforcement. When students spend all day in class, is it really fair to give them hours worth of homework to do upon their departure from school? Does it make sense for a teacher to make their students go beyond the given class time in order to learn a topic? Others recognize the value in practicing and mastering a skill when sufficient class time is not allotted. They believe that in order to truly learn and perfect the procedures and skills being taught in school, further practice must be done at home.
In my opinion, when it is distributed within reason and care for the student’s time, homework is beneficial. There have been several times where I felt bombarded with homework which was not necessarily worth my time. However, I completely accept homework when I know that it is helping me improve upon a skill and when I feel that the amount given to me is within fair boundaries. In last year’s math class, Algebra II H with Ms. Siok, we were given nearly nightly homework to reinforce and practice the topics covered in class. I found this homework to be perfectly reasonable as well as beneficial. It was given as it was needed and it never felt like a waste of time. I have had other experiences in which I felt homework was either excessive or simply irrelevant to the class and its associated techniques. Overall, I believe that homework contributes a lot to a student’s understanding of what is being discussed in class. Going hand-in-hand with this, beneficial homework will improve our test scores as a school. It will help the students to truly grasp topics required for success on standardized tests such as PARCC and the SAT or ACT. However, homework that does not directly help a student improve their skills in a given subject can be extremely tedious and frustrating. On the other hand, reasonable students can see the value in helpful practice and questions given to them in moderate amounts.
An incredibly important community of people in this issue is the teachers themselves. They are the individuals who decide how much homework will be given as well as what the homework will be. Hearing their opinion and reasoning may give students a better perspective and more of an appreciation for practice.
Mr. Cheplic, a teacher in the English Department, believes that when approached as practice, homework is very valuable. He states that homework loses its value when it is seen as a ‘make or break’ for one’s grade without intellectual significance. “I think that the key idea for me is that I like when homework is an opportunity. It’s an opportunity to try something, to draft something, to read something and then try to build on that instead of it being ‘if you don’t do this homework tonight your grade and your understanding are going to be completely lost,’” Cheplic explains further. He also states that as an English teacher, he finds it manageable to avoid giving obscene amounts of homework. He recognizes that in other disciplines and subjects this may differ. Mr. Cheplic’s strategies are ones that I can envision understanding students being able to comply with.
Mr. Haas, the band director at Ridgewood High School also speaks about this topic. In band, homework takes on a different meaning as the students are expected to practice frequently and learn their musical parts without being told to do so. Still, band students receive many assignments throughout the year that are also considered homework. Haas’s opinion is similar to mine in the sense that he only sees homework as useful when it has a specific purpose and will not consume unreasonable amounts of time. If students are given busy work or have to learn a skill on their own instead of being taught it in class, he would not support this type of homework. “I think that homework can be good when it’s used in an effective way. I think homework for the sake of homework is a waste of time. So if the students understand that they’re getting something meaningful out of the work, then they should be able to do it but they should also not need to take their whole night to get it done,” he states.
Both students and teachers should be more open to the intentions and perspectives of each other. A very reasonable compromise can be made between the two groups as seen by the opinions of two very reasonable teachers: homework should be given as long as it is meaningful, presents an opportunity to practice, and does not consume too much time.
Graphic: Ryan Rhew