I believe curriculum and instruction is what is taught, how it is taught and the learning the learning environment in which it is taught. I believe most traditional schools still have a lot to learn and incorporate from progressive educational philosophies. My belief is informed by years of seeing children respond positively to curriculum and instruction practices that are informed by philosophies such as Gardners' Multiple Intelligence Theory, applied learning, place-based education, outdoor education, peace education, immersion education, and service learning. There are many areas of curriculum and instruction that I could talk about. Learning standards, differentiated planning, assessments, and learning activities, to name just a few. In this blog post, I would like to discuss learning activities, specifically, an activity known as homework.
In many schools, homework is considered an important learning activity in order to teach responsibility, time management, and a way to review material from class. However, if put through a social-justice lens, homework is too often a source of unnecessary stress on students and overwhelmed families, especially low-income households. Homework is hurting at-risk students the most by not allowing them equal access to success in school as their middle and upper class peers. Thus, it is also a social justice issue because it is contributing to inequality. Students who cannot get homework done suffer from stigma and chronic stress because of it. Over time many start to identify as bad students and many eventually stop trying or caring. Homework may also be contributing to burnout and students dropping out of high school later in life. More and more research is being released about this and countries like Sweden have even banned it and their students outperform U.S. students on all subjects. Fortunately, more U.S. schools are paying attention to this hidden elephant in the room that was not addressed adequately in No Child Left Behind and the Every Student Succeeds Act.