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This is behind the classroom door a series of discussions produced by WFIU on the college of education at Northern Illinois University and distributed by the national educational radio network. Our topic for this program is homework on the public school child. Here is the moderator Dean Robert after top homework and the public school child. And ever there was an area of concern and controversy and worry. It is homework because the parents don't know whether to help the child. I don't know whether homework is really as good as it should be in terms of accomplishing greater learning achievement. And the pressures are on the screws to cause all of our children to become geniuses and so wrapped up in this problem of homework. Is it good or is it bad homework for the public. John what do you think about it being time. I think it's like fresh air it's hard to say
if it's good or bad it depends on how much you have it and why you are getting a fresh air and I know you're getting I don't say you shouldn't have any homework. I think first we'd have to define what we mean by homework What what do we mean to do the same thing that is being done in the school. Well perhaps one of the teachers teaching fractions and wants the children to solidify these practices and so Teacher sends home a big sheet of fractions for the youngsters to work out and return the next day. I think it is doing some work at home will reinforce what the child learns in the school day. But if the homework is excessive it actually can be detrimental to the child's learning. I think there's no question about what a child in school 6 to 8 hours a day sitting when his
body is screaming for exercise and the growth processes are taking place in a general way or a general way. And he sent home with homework to do which will keep him busy for say two hours. Now we are doing something wrong to the child in the sense that we may be teaching him to dislike school. That's when I think of the father who works all day if he had to come home and do three or four more hours of the same God I don't think he'd like it very well. And I think this is the point that bothers the youngsters Isn't it ironic though Dr. Allison that. We're living in a time when the work day of the pack is getting gradually shorter and the workday of the student is getting gradually longer because we're putting greater emphasis upon homework. You know I think that were indicating right here and now that homework can be misused. That that
some studies show that homework don't add to the achievement of youngsters. There's been a couple of studies that where they've compared children who took homework home and others who did not. And they discovered there was no difference in achievement even those these these were balanced groups. And what it must do to the child this is hanging over him every minute if he doesn't get that right when he gets home. And he shouldn't because he needs exercise. And when he goes out and play always in the back of his mind and the minds of his parents I might add have I got my homework done and my ready for the next day. And you asked Dean Cobb the not only what it does to the child but what it does to the parent occasionally into family relations. I am reminded of the story of the math teacher who was making assignment on page 76 so many problems. Page 77 so many problems. Page 78 so many problems came a stage whisper from one of her students is that boy is my dad going to be mad about this. You know I think most parents were glad when the new math came on the scene because they couldn't help
their children with their homework anymore. I think that too often it is true that homework tends to be a competitive a rain event between parents or among parents rather than work for the child. I talk not too long ago to an English professor who said he helped a child with this theme. This was at the high school level. Child went to school turned in the theme got to be on it and here and this is an English professor at a university who felt this definitely would not be and I hated him for that. Well I suppose there I'm sure there are some good purposes accomplished by homework but not as many as have been attributed it to it and of course the stress on homework seemed to come from the public actually because the public was looking to the schools to do some miracle that would make the achievement of youngsters greater than ever before. Well I I would guess that the homework serves certain purposes and I would guess that number one verb has
is a sense of responsibility. We talk a great deal about individual izing instructions and I think we somewhat have to think of the home in an individual sounds. Some homes are excellent for home work. They have private places where children to study. They have reference materials available. Unfortunately the child who comes from that type of home usually already is achieving quite well in a school situation but the person who comes from a home that is overcrowded that may not even have a daily newspaper as a reference source and may not have a silent place in the whole home. Often turns out the child who underachieved during a school day. And of course he can get no assistance from his parents in the evening which simply makes the situation.
Worse you know individual differences become greater and then of course the girls get a break again it seems to me not only as a classroom a kind of a feminine place it's clean and quiet and you sit for long periods of time. These conditions tend to be more acceptable to girls and to boys. Well homework again. Your girls come home from school and they can team up or they can sit down by themselves longer periods of time and boys since we know that boys are more vigorous physically. They may not have the stamina except that the girls except a girl may have homework to do of a different nature. Reminds me of a colleague who recently said when you're talking about homework you're talking about dusting and washing dishes and cleaning the house not doing schoolwork. Yes and I suspect that if we had more of these chores for our children to do it would be good for them. They would have a sense of responsibility in the home when parents are trying to accomplish this. But it is kind of bad especially if we
add to homework the music lessons that a child may be taking. So that to the end that it can be a point of diminishing returns. I never really thought it was fair the way teachers expect students to always do the same kind of homework in the same way. They don't realize when they look at that homework the next day that some students like you mentioned Dean Vioxx and I have a place to study. PROBABLY HAVE SO MUCH HOMEWORK of other kinds and meaning the dusting and so on that they don't have the time to prepare. To me this is not fair at all you're expecting if you if you grade seriously on homework it seems to me that you're you're not taking everything into consideration. Well and then of course one child on a homework assignment may work 30 minutes to get it finished. Another child may spend two hours on it and someone may copy it from someone else that's right only when it is yours now to Rome to know that this is taking place or a child who may
have a series of homework problems to do and not understand not understand the process and he study me he's dead unless she gets some help from his mother and father and this may not be likely. I think that Dr. Allison raises another issue too if homework is done and turned into the teacher what should the teacher do with the homework if he grades it. He may be grading. The work of parents. But if he doesn't graded he simply throws it in a waste paper basket. The student certainly isn't being rewarded for doing the homework in terms of getting the homework back with comments. So I think it it does raise quite a different issue. What what should the teacher do with homework that has been completed there and then. No I'm sure I'm sure that there's a reason for homework and something to justify it. Otherwise teachers wouldn't be
sold on it quite as much as they are. And we do have to face up to the fact that as a youngster goes through an up the educational ladder. He arrives at a point where he has where all of his work is homework. He attends classes but these are lecture classes aren't they. He doesn't have time to do homework he's not given the time. He listens to the instructor or participates in some kind of a discussion. But he's assumed to put in at least two hours of work. That's a kind of a rule of thumb at the college level two hours of work outside class for every hour in class. So thus a three semester hours course that means three times a week he would be presumed to put in six hours of study. Furthermore he probably hit it even harder when it came to examination time. So I suppose that a high school teacher even though they have study halls were high school students are supposed to do most of their homework in saying you know how am I going to uncork the habit of independent study
which is essentially what is sought at the college level and an elementary teacher says well I've got to make sure that these young people going up to high school or junior high are capable of getting the assignment from a teacher and going home or going to a study hall preparing it and bringing it back the next day without procrastinating on it and doing it as carefully as possible. So these habits are important. And I suppose this justifies a certain type and certain amount of homework. I agree and I thought I doubt very much that you would find many teachers who would advocate in all homework that the amount of homework I think is is a main issue. How much homework does a child have to do in order to develop favorable study habits. And isn't it possible to give such long assignments that instead of developing favorable study habits you're actually developing unfavorable study habits and attitude.
School I think a child may spend six hours in a school day come home do four hours of homework Plus the work that has to be done to assist around his own home. And by then it's bed time. Certainly the child needs other activities. I also wonder if homework doesn't discriminate against a child who is active in extracurricular activities. If he's in a class play and in many cases that classic play would require him to be present for rehearsal every evening for perhaps a month prior to putting on a play. Then how can he do his homework. You might be working til midnight and no young person should be doing this. You know there's another thing that is enormously discouraging to young people when it comes to homework assignments at the junior high level or departmental
ization prevails or the high school level it's entirely possible for all four or five or even six of the teachers of a child to give him a large homework assignment on the same night. And I have heard of children that just burst into tears at the discouragement of facing four or five assignments given independently by teachers in the departmental situation without their knowing that the other teachers had done the same thing. And you know this is something that no human being should be faced with and that is the impossibility of doing it this complete discouragement that can come back to killing to the slower children and the teachers aren't there to see it. They are not and I'm sure they would correct it immediately if they were but they're not there to see it when it's home. Now I've heard teen top of assigning homework on certain nights the English teachers all assign it when I math teachers when I was at work.
Well I think it works except that and in plans that I've seen the teachers can't resist. Well this is just a little bitty homework little bitty thing that I want you to do. Well this little assignment from their point of view might turn out to be a two hour assignment because of the reasons that being Vioxx raised. Perhaps he has to research it need doesn't have an encyclopedia in the room where he can walk over and thumb through and get the answer to this. I'm going to have to go to the public library to do this. I wonder too if rather than with the system you're suggesting Dr. Allison it would be better to have homework given in terms of long range assignments. So that instead of saying that every Tuesday night the child has to do English he has an assignment that he has to complete within the two month period or a one month period so that if on that particular Tuesday night he happens to have some other activity he would still be
able to complete his assignment. And after all if we are giving homework in order to develop independent study habits it seems to me that long range study habits are more desirable than simply doing a short term assignment. Well this teaches the child also to do it daily to accomplish the long range objectives. Too often I think the youngster doesn't even think about it until a couple of days before it's scheduled what the teacher can remind the child. The parents can help remind the child. But on the whole it's a pretty tricky operation to have the right kind of homework at the right level. But it is necessary I think the point that you made that homework has to be coordinated so that the child doesn't get four or five hours of homework and one night and no homework the next night. You know it isn't just bad on a child but I think with Dr. Nelson mentioned earlier it is very important it disrupts family life.
The child is crying about doing homework. Parents are trying to encourage the child to do the homework and yet perhaps tend to side with the child against the school and such a situation. And we're painting a pretty black picture here but I think we should because this is something that's out of control or essentially an out of the supervision of teachers and teachers really don't know what takes place when they send homework home and they don't even know in many cases of the other teacher across the hall or sending home a large assignment. Furthermore they don't know that in high school for example the youngster taking a lap who is probably having to spend two or three hours on that course alone. And therefore what happens is social studies suffers or is science is neglected. I have I've known a severe teacher in terms of homework to cut off study unconsciously Of course in other areas because the child just didn't have the time or the strength or the energy to give to those
other subjects. Well and isn't it true that we perhaps could justify homework even not. Rather large amounts of homework. If we had evidence that the homework improved the achievement of the child in school and yet study after study seems to find just the opposite. In fact there is an experiment going on now by Stanford team in which they are comparing the achievement test scores of students in schools that traditionally give homework and scores of math students matched in terms of intelligence who are attending schools without any homework being assigned. And they're finding that there is no difference in the achievement levels of the two groups. In fact although it's too early for them to draw final conclusions there are indications that if
homework. Is abolished and replaced by assignments that must be completed during the school day. Under the direction of the classroom teacher so that the classroom teacher is present. If the child confronts a difficulty that he cannot solve. The children will do better on the standardized achievement. Yes I heard children make that recommendation not over a month ago I heard children say or why don't they just lengthen the school day and let us get it over with. Because this hanging over their heads when they go home. But we cannot forget Kinley that eventually a college and university study means all of your preparation is homework so how would accomplish this. I think that I would hazard a little. One little recommendation I know that there are many people who would disagree with me but I would say that in the elementary schools there should be no homework
and will stay up through sixth grade. There should be no homework other than the assignment of things to do that had to be returned the next day in the term. Such as bringing back something to illustrate something or or some small little task but not every day irregularly so the child would learn not to forget. I've got to find something about salt or I've got to find out something about electricity so that I can report in the morning. But not every day. And I think that just so this would be the beginning of the establishment of this habit of responsibility. Well I do. I do have to disagree if you're talking about all types of homework and I realize you're talking at the present time of the elementary school child but I do think there are certain things that cannot be done in the school day that are very beneficial to a child and
elementary child for example can learn a great deal about botany by raising plants being responsible for doing that it. Oh and I don't people say that isn't homework. But to me that is homework. Any reports back and shares it with the other right raise enough to help them. Feeding a pit. Different types of food to see the effect upon the pet. As long as you're not going to an extreme and damaging pet I think that that type of assignment can be worthwhile watching certain programs. I think that too often teachers. Seem to be unaware of major programs that contribute very much to what the child cannot reinforce with the child her I am here willing to do so actually but not too many and not every night for these little children up through the sixth grade and then the driller and the enrichment that the teacher now is seeking to accomplish through
homework. Do this in school somehow or other arrange to have theirs and under supervision so the teacher can help the youngster who doesn't have all those things in his home. And then about junior high level here extend the so-called study hall or give study time in classes so that they are requiring to do this preparation independently but with some supervision. Then again an occasional homework assignment so they are getting ready for their movement into high school where it will be almost necessary that they have homework. Again I would like to say that I don't think they ought to have it every night. You can sense that what I am saying in effect is it's important for children to Lanc and to enjoy school no fashion people used to say well school can't be any good if you like it. Will school should be interesting and should be inspirational. Names should be something that children look forward to and children do look forward to school more nowadays than ever they ever
did in the past because better psychology has been used being used in their education. And then at the high school level I think maybe we can move into some more homework. But control didn't pile up on the students the way we've seen it happen sometimes and I think regardless of the amount of the hallmark that is given that's important to individualize homework which oftentimes is not done there recently I saw my image scribbled on the board for the whole class reading. If a child already knows. Particular area quite well he still has to go through the same assignment. I sometimes wonder to the type of mass assignment doesn't prevent the child from developing his individual interests. The child likes to read for example and he has to spend so much time at home doing drill type of homework assignments. He may not be able to read extensively the way he would
if he did not have the homework assignments. I do think that homework has a value of communicating with the parent what the school program is. Most parents try to keep rather closely in touch with the type of homework assignments the child is doing and it is one way for the school to tell that. This is what the child is doing in his history class or as English class or whatever particular subject he happens to be taking. Seems to me a while back we were appearing to be quite critical of teachers and we don't want to give that impression. I'm convinced that teachers are the most conscientious professional group in our in our society. Teachers are trying their best to see that children get a good education and if they have made some mistakes with regard to homework these have been sincere mistakes. They have been trying to do whatever is best for the child and see that he moves on
through the educational ladder successfully. When I think we do have to communicate teachers the children don't express themselves well a little fourth or fifth grade child or even a junior high child doesn't go up to the teacher the next day and say look Mr. Jones I worked from 4 p.m. when I got home from school till 10 p.m. on the homework I didn't even get to see my favorite TV program. The child doesn't do this. In essence suffers in silence he talks to his friends and this is where parents come into the picture and then get parents can sense that this is the wrong kind of homework or for their child it's interfering with other activities that are important as life or turning the child against school really hate school. Then it's time for the teacher to communicate. I mean the parent did communicate with the teacher. I agree entirely that certainly we're not trying to criticize teachers
that teachers deal with large numbers of students. And when the teacher gives an assignment teacher may misjudge how long it will pick the slowest youngster to do that assignment. And as a result the child may have much more homework and teacher believes but I also think that the teacher has pressure from parents that parents traditionally want homework. I just read a study that was done in Sacramento. And which they polled PPA members to determine whether or not the PTA members felt that homework should be abolished decreased and increased or kept at about the same level and the majority of parents indicated either to be kept at the same level or increased. Now I think of course that parents who attend BPA as may not be typical of parents throughout a city which may account for I think in general middle class parents would be striving more to have their
children achieve and therefore may want more homework without understanding that it doesn't really affect their GPA that the reason they want to go I think Dr. Fox is the parents believe that the students have more homework to learn more which will get them into college and this gets to be a rather vicious cycle that everybody is so concerned about getting their students into certain colleges that they want them to do almost anything to get there. And I think we have to watch this homework from the standpoint that we're going to have to do the teachers certainly are to be commended and I'm glad we both said that this is an important thing they they are to be commended but I don't think they always realize that that what the student is involved in he has not only that his school duties to do but all the other things too. And aren't we also discriminating against a student who holds a part time job. Seems to me that work experience because it is very important especially for student
at the high school age level. Well if the child has a part time job then we're certainly cutting down on the amount of time and you can give the homework. If we expect them to have any free time at all you know homework is part the habit. Isn't it funny you know we'll cling to ideas and practices that prevailed when we were in school. And I wonder if the parents who voted for homework didn't say in essence what I went through it I had homework that school that's what you worry about that's when you do a lot of your work. This is good for you. Therefore my children are going to have homework without realizing of course that that homework. Planned in the wrong way or in the wrong quantity and there was wrong circumstances might be detrimental. We have a lot of these hanging over. For example look three months vacation and there's a tremendous loss of achievement by the child. These are hangovers from the agricultural days. Well we have talked about homework in the public school
child we have generally been negative about homework I would say if I were to evaluate our presentation. But we're saying somehow or other we must teach young people the habits of preparing their work studying independently so that when they go to college they're ready to do this. And in essence this is a life to face a problem your income tax or whatever it may be. You study it you prepare for the time when you really have to have the knowledge behind the class. Room door produced by WFIU FM in cooperation with the College of Education at Northern Illinois University. Each week focuses its attention on one of the many challenging aspects of public school education. The program is moderated by Dr. Robert F. top dean of the College of Education at Northern Illinois University. Today's guests were Dr. Robin B Fox associate dean of the College of Education and Dr. Robert H Nelson head of the department of secondary education. Next week's topic will be the
influence of a teacher on a child. I'm Fred Pyle and this program is distributed by the national educational radio network.
Behind the classroom door
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Chicago: “Behind the classroom door; 8,” 1969-01-31, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed July 13, 2024,
MLA: “Behind the classroom door; 8.” 1969-01-31. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. July 13, 2024. <>.
APA: Behind the classroom door; 8. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from