No Homework Blanket Statement Alice Keeler

Have you ever watched someone do something over and over again that made you angry? Maybe you whispered something to your friends about it but didn’t address it publicly. That has been going on in my head for months. I have watched Alice Keeler make the blanket statement that homework should not be given again and again. There is no gray in her statements. The first thing you see on her blog about homework is an image saying stop giving homework. You can check her view about homework here on her blog.

I have thought for a long time about why her statements bother me. I have come to the conclusion that she is considered an expert in the education community and her words carry weight with educators. She has over 60,000 followers who retweet her words reaching more educators than follow her. To be completely honest I respect Alice’s Google ability. Her knowledge of computer shortcuts and spreadsheets is second to none. I retweet her tips and shortcuts soaking up the knowledge she shares. However, if I let her declarations about homework being the devil go by without responding to them publicly that is tantamount to agreeing with her in my eyes.

In my teaching, I rarely give out homework. It doesn’t matter to me whether you believe in homework or not. If you want to read an article that shows the research on the pros and cons read this article by Marzano and Pickering published on the ASCD website. It gives an impartial view on homework backed with a boatload of research. The point to my blog and my recent interactions on social media is that you have a responsibility to be a critical consumer of information no matter who it comes from. If that information is detrimental to the profession you have a duty to speak up.

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It is very rare in education that we can make black and white statements ignoring the gray. Justin Johnston stated this clearly in his tweet (image on the left)  during one of my interactions with him and Alice. We know that traditional homework is boring and unnecessary. We know that homework should be something engaging. It can be something from simply reading to documenting the main idea of the television show you watched that night. Homework can be repurposed in millions of ways. It can be reworded as flipped, practicing at home, learning at home or any other phrase you want to switch it to. The bottom line is that if teachers want students to do things at home this is not always a bad thing. It is irresponsible to be a “thought leader” who is accepted to present at the top education conferences and make absolute statements such as “stop giving homework”.

If I was an administrator I would absolutely defend the practice of my teachers giving homework to their students. I would make sure the homework was not graded (or graded so low that the score would not affect the student) because we are assessing the standards not assessing responsibility. If the student can master the standards without doing homework than by all means stop doing the homework. On the same side of that coin is the belief that if a student is struggling and not taking the time to put in the extra work to master the standard that is a problem.

I do understand the equity issue of homework. This is a problem. Some students work, don’t have the internet, or live in a house where getting quiet time to complete assignments is next to impossible. For those students, we have to offer them time during study halls, before class, after school, or during class to accomplish any outside the room tasks.

Homework needs to be relevant, purposeful, engaging, and something that can be done without the help of an adult. It is our job as teachers to teach the students. Not parents, caregivers, babysitters or grandparents. We need all the support we can get from them but they should not shoulder the burden of teaching the concepts to the students at home. That is our jobs.

This marks the end of my journey debating online the merits of homework. When I see tweets debating the subject I will post this blog. Hopefully, it will show people that blanket policies and statements are never the way to go. As always come join me on #slowchatpe on Voxer to discuss the questions of the week

Q1: How much homework do you give out? #slowchatpe

Q2: Have you researched the pros and cons of homework? If yes what have you found? #slowchatpe

Q3: How has your research dictated whether you believe that teachers should have the ability to assign homework? #slowchatpe

Q4: What is your school’s stance on homework? #slowchatpe

Q5: Are students punished for not doing homework in your school? #slowchatpe

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7 thoughts on “No Homework Blanket Statement Alice Keeler

  1. Mary Neal

    Her points are all valid. I notice how she says to change your traditional classroom if you are not giving homework. Independent practice in the classroom. If you forgot instructions, check classroom website. If stuck, teacher is there. Personally we don’t do homework in our house. We are involved in sport & homelife. In Ontario, “growing success” document states homework is not to be graded. Otherwise We’d see a lot of parents getting 10/10 on social studies projects. My child & I have reviewed material for assignments & learned a lot from it. We just don’t have time to this. If I feel an assignment is worth exploring, we do it. Gone are the days I force my child to do 1.5 hours of spelling HW because the Teacher has a point system based on completing HW. So the No HW stance of Alice is just that. I agree Justin that people should be critical consumers of social media messages.

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  2. mrsalicekeeler

    Equity is not negotiable. There is no room for grey when students who are already disadvantaged are further disadvantaged by unequal home situations. Please read “Mathematical Mindsets” by Jo Boaler, Stanford math professor and researcher. She also calls homework “indefensible.” There is little to no benefit to homework but a boatload of NEGATIVES. I do not know one parent who does not complain about the stress and fighting of homework. Assigning something at home gives NO CONSIDERATION to the home situations kids have. It’s unnecessary. I am a parent of 5 kids. I will choose how I spend my time with my kids at home. I have had ZERO things of value ever sent home. I have seen quite a bit of assignments sent home that are CONFUSING, POORLY WORDED, BELOW MY CHILD’S ABILITY LEVEL, POOR QUALITY, ILL THOUGHT, and MAKE MY KID CRY! You have NO IDEA the impact of your assignment you send home when you’re not there to see the impact it has. This cultural norm needs to stop.

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    1. justin schleider

      Response to Alice:
      Alice equity is what is appropriate for each child. You may be talking about equality. Some students may need extra help at home and their parents WANT to help them! You state that you don’t know of one parent who does not complain about the stress of homework yet I can find many who are in favor of it. You can not take what happens in your world and extrapolate it as a fact of the universe. Just because you have had ZERO things of value sent home doesn’t mean that all homework has no value. Your statements are very egocentric. You choose to ignore the research in favor of homework and only pay attention to the research against it. This is a very familiar diatribe in education. If you have relationships with the parents of your students you will know exactly their thoughts and feelings on homework and adjust your teaching accordingly. I believe your argument should be useless homework should not be sent home. In a perfect world, students will do extra at home because they are excited about learning. I again find your absolute stance to this full of personal bias and detrimental to your followers.

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  3. kathy bourke (@kathy_bourke)

    You have to love how one word can evoke such passion on both sides of the fence. As a parent, teacher and now teaching principal, having worked in big city schools down to my current tiny bush school, I have never set homework and I have never had a parent ask me, ‘where is the homework?’ If they requested it I would ask them, why? I think that is the real issue, disregarding what the research for or against states, as a parent, teacher, administrator, ask why? My students bring me in things they may have constructed at home, written at home, tell me about books they have read or activities they have done. Was this set homework? No. Was it work they did at home? Yes.
    If one word can cause such angst you do have to ask yourself, why?

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    1. slowchatpe Post author

      Kathy,

      Thanks for the response. Useless homework or busy work should definitely not be given. Can we just say disregard research? If angst was the problem and we are going to just ignore research due to this why do we standardize test students? The question is if done properly can it benefit students now and in the future? Maybe yes maybe no. You decide as a teacher.

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  4. Pingback: Assessment – for, as, of | Educational Discourse

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