μεταcole

Too Much Homework

Posted in all posts, education by coleman yee on August 29, 2006

I was reading a blog post by Trisha (a teacher in Singapore) entitled “Why I Hate Teaching“.

She doesn’t really hate teaching – her post is a rant against the system under which she teaches, where she has to do everything else in addition to her teaching.

Like photocopying handouts and worksheets, collecting school fees from students – totally absurd!

Anyway, one of her complaints was that teachers have a perpetual backlog of student work to grade:

8) I hate having to keep a red pen in every one of my handbags, because I am constantly having to mark something. I hate bringing scripts with me everywhere I go. I hate it that my marking is never finished, even on the last day of the school year, because there just isn’t enough time for teachers to mark their students’ work, and because we have to do so many other non-teaching-related work.

A bulk of this grading work is a result of giving students (too much) homework.

I was never a fan of homework when I was in school. Well, most normal and mentally-sound students probably feel the same. But unlike most of my classmates, I didn’t do most of my homework. In fact, I used to get into a lot of trouble with my teachers because of that. (But that’s another story.)

But I did alright for my examinations, at least most of the time.
Not because I’m some kind of genius (I’m not), but perhaps the recent TIME article “The Myth About Homework” can shed some light:

[H]omework does not measurably improve academic achievement for kids in grade school. […]

Too much homework brings diminishing returns.

I wish I knew all this when I was a student, so I could have a more sophisticated reason (excuse?) rather than “I forgot” or “I didn’t have time” or more recently “the computer virus ate my homework”.

And perhaps if more teachers know this, they would have better reasons to give less homework and thus lighten their already-hefty loads.

Advertisements

Feedback from a Student

Posted in all posts, blogging, life, philosophy, stories, teaching by coleman yee on August 4, 2006

Yesterday, I had my last lesson with a group of students. Since this was my last opportunity to speak to them, I spent quite a bit of effort in preparation for it.

The “closing talk” went really well. Using lots of my own stories and experiences with loads of humor, I had the full attention of the 18-year-olds (including the normally attention-deficient ones) throughout the 150-Powerpoint-slides-in-45-minutes session. (Yes, I really had 150 slides.)

Later that day, one of the girls blogged about it:

today during i n e lesson i was really inspired by coleman’s closing talk. he talked about courage, and having the “just do it” attitude. i feel that i should have that attitude too and not try and think so much. at times im a real thinker and think about the consequences, and factors that would affect my decision. also, he did emphasize that we get only one life, so make it meaningful. yes. i should make my life meaningful and make it my own. i want to re-live life again. yes, i’ve got only 1 life, and i should treasure it and make it really meaningful. he did mention about honesty also. yes, its very important. and i guess when i make decisions, i guess, its not about whether its theoretically right or not, but whether the decision i made is it honest to myself or not. these are lifeskills, and it is essential. coleman’s closing did really inspire me and i’ve really made the decision to make my life meaningful. this life is mine and God is in control. i want to rise up and soar from the situation i am in.

It’s reading things like this from students that makes teaching really meaningful and worth all the effort.