I have assigned reading Alfie Kohn on homework's worthlessness for homework. (Occasionally a preservice teacher will even be so bold as to comment on the irony.) I have criticized my children's school for its homework policies.
When we discuss grading I'm on much better ground, since (a) the university requires grades and (b) I'm pretty progressive with summative assessment, using portfolios and standards based grading. Homework... the worst part is that I feel like a hypocrite. In addition, it is by far the most complained about part of the course.
So when there's a complaint about the quantity, I feel defensive. Surely other classes ask for more with much less choice? Surely other profs are less flexible on deadlines? (Be caught up by the end of the semester, I ask for the vast majority of assignments.) Surely there's just too much to learn from these classes to expect them to get it all during class time?
conditions of learning). Especially future teachers, who will always have more to do than hours in the day.
Where I want to move with this is to give more responsibility. I will still give my home workshops, but I want to be more transparent with the goals for it. Students are responsible for meeting the goals, and my workshops are one way to do it. But if they can show me they meet these objectives already, or have met them another way... I'll be good with that. Now to start cooking up just what those objectives are. I'm somewhat ashamed that I've been giving homework without clear objectives in my mind. Each workshop does have a learning target, but that's not the same as why I'm giving homework at all.
I'm finally writing this post since differentiating homework is the theme for Sunday Funday (worst funday ever?) this week. Check out these great posts about homework that are already there.
I'd love feedback by comment or twitter: if you're a K-12 teacher, what would you have wanted to learn about homework while in college? If you're a teacher educator, how do you handle the homework issue?