More schools rethink homework

More schools rethink homework

Hundreds of primary schools could soon follow the lead of their Wellington counterparts and make radical changes to traditional homework methods.

Karori Normal School has told parents that pupils should read comics and the backs of cereal packets to improve reading skills. They also suggest pupils improve their spelling by doing crosswords and playing board games. The school argues that homework has no positive impact.

The move has been backed by education expert John Hattie, who says he has found “zero evidence” that homework helps to improve time management or study skills.

Principals Federation president Ernie Buutveld said he knew of schools that were considering similar moves.

“In fact a lot of schools already have. It’s about making learning more fun. A lot of kids hear the word `homework’ and turn off straight away. Homework often has negative connotations.

“But by making learning fun you will be surprised at the number of kids who all of a sudden have a lot more interest.”

Seatoun School has changed homework rules, hoping it would prompt families to spend more time together. Principal Pete Pointon said it was also important for pupils to have down time after school.

Instead of traditional homework, pupils were given challenges, including tidying their bedrooms for a school term and planning and making a meal for their parents.

“If they are doing this stuff at home … because they are excited about it and want to do it rather than filling in some silly sheet or doing something they can’t see any relationship to what’s going on in their lives, I think it’s fantastic. They are switched on to learning and can see learning in a whole different context.”

The school still had some homework that needed to be done each night – reading and spelling for about 10 minutes.

The Education Ministry said homework could be effective, but “should not be excessive and should not unnecessarily fatigue and frustrate students”. The ministry encouraged parents to talk to their child’s teacher about homework methods.No homework but parents still have job.

By NATHAN BEAUMONT – The Dominion Post

Last updated 05:00 16/02/2010