*Here’s a piece your kids will love – because everyone needs a break. VL
By Ray Salazar, The White Rhino (3 minute read)
Last week, a DNAInfoChicago article highlighted that some top high schools in the Chicago Public Schools established a “no homework” policy during winter and spring break. I agree. All schools should adopt this policy.
There is misconception that making students work nonstop equals rigor and, therefore, provides a better education. A student currently at one of the top Chicago high schools told me that they get four to five hours of homework a night. They’re on a regular 8-period-a-day schedule. So it’s all due the next day.
I tried not to react. But I thought, “That’s madness!” I definitely don’t want my own kids there.
The homework I assign takes students an average of one hour to complete. Because we’re on a block schedule and I see students every other day for 90 minutes, they have two nights to do it. Students say it’s reasonable. If they use their time wisely, they can still work or play a sport or be teens AND do their homework without staying up late.
Homework should build on what students do in classes. Homework should help students progress with larger assignments like projects and essays. Homework should balance skill development and independent challenges.
Homework fails when all the responsibility gets thrown on the student and his or her family. I’ve helped enough nieces and nephews with science fair projects to know this. The teachers gave a packet and threw all the responsibility on the student to do this on his own. Not fun.
Homework during breaks runs the risk of becoming a massive forced undertaking where students must read an entire novel, complete a multi-page research paper, create something requiring a tri-fold board, or complete a heavy packet of worksheets.
So I ask myself, “Is the student’s academic life going to be significantly better if they do this?”
Since 1995, Ray has been an English teacher in the Chicago Public Schools. In 2003, Ray earned an M.A. in Writing, with distinction, from DePaul University. In 2009, he received National Board Certification. His writing aired on National Public Radio and Chicago Public Radio many times and have been published in the Chicago Tribune and CNN. For thirty years, Ray lived in Chicago’s 26th Street neighborhood. Today, he lives a little more south and a little more west in the city with his wife, son, and daughter.
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