homework and less homework

Friday, January 21st, 2005

Susan Gibb passes this little tidbit along to me concerning some policy changes at St. John’s in Marlborough. Interesting news. Source The Telegraph.

St John’s sees itself as at the forefront of radical educational change and Dr Hazlewood is testing a futuristic project devised by the Royal Society for the Arts which rejects the notion that a teacher’s job is to transmit a body of knowledge to pupils.

The project aims instead to encourage pupils to “love learning for its own sake” and the project is intended to replace the “information-led, subject-driven” national curriculum with one based on “competences for learning, citizenship, relating to people, managing situations and managing information”.

The point of schooling, the RSA says, is to acquire competence not subject knowledge. It believes that exams only impede pupils’ progress.

At St John’s, which has 1,450 pupils aged 11 to 18 – 250 of them 12-year-olds – replacing first-year subjects with “cross-curricular projects” of the kind that used to be popular in primary schools was the first step. Allowing the pupils to mark each other’s work was the second. Scrapping homework is the third.

The policy statement on the St. John site still claims homework as a regular part of study, though. In my opinion, if the above report is accurate, I’d claim that this is actually a good idea.

There is a place, however, where homework isn’t given. That’s college. There’s really no homework “given” in the classes that I teach. People, in order to get by, simply have work to do. They can do it at home or in the Library or at Starbucks.


One response to “homework and less homework”

  1. Christopher says:

    Ah but homework or work outside of the class specified time falls back into the realm of who is the teacher? When I am in class, my teacher is in front of me. If I then go home (or the library or Starbucks) and read a text aren’t both the author and I the teacher, and so while the class isn’t regimented, I am still learning.

    This learning is in a different fashion than a classroom. The book is linear, while a classroom lecture can end up jumping around with questions and coments. The book lacks the interaction.

    There are some people who as students don’t like the lecture environment, they find it distracting and subversive to their own learning. Others who need it, finding the self-taught method of reading a text to be lacking in support.

    Homework (or any assigned work done outside of the classroom) ensures that the student is still working on honing or attaining the skills/material that was covered in the class.

    Tests are a measurement of this. With a math problem there is a correct answer. The same for identifying the date of a historical event. It is more difficult to grade an essay or creative work as the grading process becomes subjective.