Well, Ben Slavic never pulls his punches (which is what I love about him) as you can see below. Ben does implicitly raise a question, however: is it worth tarring all one’s colleagues with the same brush? See Ben’s post, and my comments.
Well, my dear Mr Slavic, I would respectfully suggest that there is waaaaay more to the homework question than this. So, Ben, what about these points?
What about teachers who have to give homework? Required in some places. Are all these teachers mean, afraid, in need of approval, boring, or incompetent? Generalise much? It is a much better idea to look at a specific practice than something like “homework” which is so vague it could mean almost anything.
What about good homework? Things that I send home with kids– making simplified cartoons from asked stories, or Textivate sequences, or translations of short passages from L2 into L1– all deliver good C.I., are easy, and do not take much time. I tell my kids, budget 15 min/week for Spanish homework. Hey Ben, do you think my homework mean, or coming from fear, boring or pointless?
What about finishing up class work? My policy– in all classes except English, where there is simply not enough time to read novels in class– is, if you don’t get it done in class, it’s homework. Would you recommend something else, Ben?
Your kids “don’t do it anyway.” Why? Was the homework pointless, too much, too hard, infantile, or what? Does what works (or not) with your kids apply to me and mine? 90% of my kids will do my homework if it’s not unreasonable.
Homework “seems insulting.” I’ve never heard or felt this from kids. I have heard, it’s too much/hard/boring though. The reality in schools, with languages, is that most students do not get enough exposure to the language (comprehensibly) in class, even with great teachers, to get anywhere near mastery in 2-4 years. A bit of enjoyable and not too difficult reading or listening outside of class is going to do what all comprehensible input does: boost acquisition. How we mark hwk etc will vary across contexts, but the “insulting” tag seems, well, pointless and unclear.
Homework “is a national sickness.” It would be much more accurate to say, stupid homework is a national sickness. And by stupid homework, I mean more or less what Alfie Kohn means: things that do any of “building work habits,” or which unnecessarily repeat what was done in class, or which don’t work (in our world, grammar stuff etc), or which cut into family/leisure or personal interest or sports time, etc.
I don’t make decisions for my kids based on other people’s dumb ideas…I make them based on what’s going to help my kids pick up Spanish.
Anyway, my dear sh*t-disturbing Ben, you havn’t offended me. But then, I don’t speak for everyone.