When it comes to elementary education, there are three things I feel pretty strongly about.
- I don’t believe in homework for students in grades K through 4.
- I think kids need way more recess than they currently receive.
- I don’t believe kids should have cell phones in school.
If you’ve been around here for a little while, then the first one is no surprise to you, and neither was this picture I posted on the Facebook page last night:
And one reader left this comment:
I’ve been hanging around the page for a few years and I’ve read your post about young kids not doing homework. I’m wondering how that goes over with the teachers. I mean I 10000% agree but I’m curious of teacher reactions.
I’ve been asked this question many times.
And I have an answer.
As a former teacher, I am all too aware of the shift that has gradually taken place in education over the last (gulp) forty years since I was in elementary school.
Teachers are no longer respected the way they once were.
Parents make demands, threaten, cross boundaries, and disrupt the educational systems that teachers work very hard to put into place.
Having experienced this first hand, I don’t want to add to the thankless and nearly impossible jobs that teachers already have.
They are underpaid, underappreciated, and undervalued as it is.
But now being on the other side of the coin and being a parent as well, and seeing how my children are affected, I have some pretty significant issues with our current system.
Parents like me who are teacher/parents or former teacher/parents have the potential to be either the worst parents or the best parents for teachers to have to interact with.
On the one hand, they know all the rules. They know all their rights and their children’s rights. They know everything you could legally call a teacher out on.
Plus, it’s pretty easy to be super judgmental when you are a parent who also is or was a teacher.
On the other hand, when you are a parent who is (or was) a teacher, you also get it. You get what the teachers go through day in and day out. And you don’t want to make things worse than they already are.
My issue isn’t with teachers, but with policy.
And most teachers have nothing to do with that.
This is one of the reasons I left teaching.
I had a big problem with the way public education was headed.
Testing became the focus.
Music and art and recess was disappearing.
Kids were getting hammered with curriculum.
Teachers were no longer highly respected.
Administration feared unreasonable parents and the lawsuits that were attached to them, and I didn’t feel like anyone ever had my back.
To pour your heart and soul (and a good amount of your own money) into your students and your classroom only to be undermined and/or threatened at any time by an unreasonable parent and overwhelmed with the increasing expectations attached to testing scores took all the joy out of the job.
That’s why I left.
As parent, I see education going in a direction I don’t like.
There is lots of testing and little room for creativity. There is plenty of homework and little free time.
I have seen no data to show that homework is effective or necessary at the elementary grade level. I have no anecdotal evidence from my own experience as a parent.
In my town, my issues come down to decisions that are made by the school board and the administration.
And in my town, decisions are made by the school board with or without input from the community.
When the community inputs nothing, (or close to it), then the school board makes their decisions without that input.
So when parents do and/or say nothing, there won’t be much change. Or any.
To answer the question “How do the teachers feel about you not making your kids do homework?” I’d say it’s a mixed reaction.
Some teachers have no issue with it. At all.
These teachers are the ones who offer homework because they know there will be parents who complain when it’s not given.
But my children are strong students. They all consistently score well above the goals and benchmarks that have been predetermined by either the district or the state.
If I had a boss who made me go home every night and do a bunch of unnecessary work, a bunch of work that I had repeatedly showed I had mastered that took away from the other things I needed to do in order to live a full and well-balanced life, well…
I’d be pissed.
With very little recess at school, very little outdoor time, with no home economic classes, with the orchestra program cut long ago and music classes consistently in jeopardy, my kids need opportunities to do that stuff at home.
When my kids are given zero time for play-based learning once they finish kindergarten (and there isn’t even much time for that in kindergarten as it is), then I’m gonna make sure they get it at home.
So I don’t want to suck the joy out of someone’s job.
I don’t want to be that parent.
But I also don’t want to contribute to the direction I see public education going. Not when I fundamentally disagree with it.
It’s a fine line to walk.
And so I challenge policy and I challenge fundamental principles I believe are ineffective, unnecessary, and unhealthy for my kids.
I don’t want to suck the joy out of a teacher’s job or make her life miserable.
But when it comes to my kids being asked to do something that is completely unnecessary?
I have to say, on this point, I really don’t care what their teachers say.
I’m not gonna make my kids do it.