Education Rethink: Homework and the Real World

Via Education Rethink: Homework and the Real World:

Homework is often justified with the “real world” argument. When I point out that kids should have the freedom to learn independently, play around with friends and socialize in their free time, I hear the rationale that in the real world they will have to work hard whether they want to or not.

In the real world, extra hours will get overtime and people get to choose their jobs. Only in the most authoritarian of nations do we expect people to work additional hours in jobs that are forced upon them by law.

Homework is often justified with the excuse that “the homework is intense in college.”  True, but so is the free time. And in college, students have freedom of space, freedom of choice and additional responsibilities that come with adulthood.

So, if you want to make homework like the real world, it needs to be extra credit and it needs to be based upon student choice. If you care deeply about mirroring school and the real world, you need less coercion, more freedom, more choice and more self-directed responsibility.

This is an interesting argument.

On one hand, I agree wholeheartedly that freedom to learn independently is important.

However, on the other hand – frequently, structure leads us to encounter depth through self-discipline.  I’ll openly admit that I would have never learned Illustrator out of pure self-motivation – instead, I had (have) homework in the mission of prepping lessons for my class.  Through that “homework,” I’ve discovered that I actually enjoy using the program and can make it do some pretty nifty things.

Given the choice between playing FIFA 13 (which I’m told is all the rage this week) and watching demo videos towards a flipped classroom structure – most of the students I know are going to immerse themselves in digital soccer.  But structure leads to practice leads to expertise, which has its own intrinsic rewards.

Maybe it’s a question of how we make work more like play?

And then, there’s also the question of how many students have the family and home support (structure) to encounter experiences that allow them to learn independently….

I often wish that I could fast-forward thirty years into the future, assess what has become important and what has been discarded, and then rewind to the present.  An On the Media piece this morning cited that emoticons – and, more importantly, the vehicle used to spread them, called the internet – are less than thirty years old.  Thirty years from now, what practices are going to make us shake our heads and bemoan, “but that was just common sense….?”





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