Thinking about inequity outside the classroom

October 31, 2017

Thinking about inequity outside the classroom

“Can every piece of homework you set be completed by the child independently?”

That’s the question Catherine recently put to educators on our Facebook Page, while encouraging them to think about the real aims of homework. The question prompted some interesting discussion about the benefits of homework and the expectations of parents.

At her recent Brisbane workshop, Dr Anita Archer pointed out the social inequity of setting homework that requires adult intervention for success. Catherine explained that “anything that causes student to ask their parents, “Can we got to Officeworks to get…” is likely to be inequitable. Surely we need to narrow rather than widen the educational gap?”

We encourage teachers to think about the students whose parents do not have the capacity, time, ability or resources to assist them. Education needs to be the great leveller, not another contributor to inequity.

It’s an issue Catherine admits she gets quite angry about, pointing out that a disproportionate amount of time can be spent on homework tasks of extremely limited educational worth.

“The result is time NOT spent reading, exercising, playing, talking or sleeping. I also resent any task where marks are allocated for anything beyond that specified in the subject's Achievement Standards,” she said.

“How can a history student, for example, be marked down for not including colour-printing in an assignment? How is the layout of a poster (and the quality of its images) a reasonable assessment of an English student's understanding of a Shakespearean play? Gggrrrr!”

Interestingly, one Facebook contributor highlighted the pressure she feels as a teacher to meet parent’s expectations of what homework should be.

“Sometimes we - as teachers… are held to ransom by parents who have some fanciful expectation of what homework ‘should’ be . I used to spend so much weekend time marking homework books for parents to see,” Melinda Simpson said.

“We’re caught in the middle… having to appease parents, higher up, the system, the standards, BOSTES and the department.”

Setting homework that's fair





Leave a comment


Also in News

A spoonful of vocabulary fun
A spoonful of vocabulary fun

August 15, 2018

Writing exercises using spoonerisms, and other quirks of the English language, will help foster a deep understanding of words and terms without soaring your students billy.

View full article →

Share your thoughts on the blue book
Share your thoughts on the blue book

August 08, 2018

Our little blue book, How to write what you want to say... is now six years old and ready for an update. Before work begins on the new edition, we would love to hear your thoughts on what you like and what could be improved. 

View full article →

Improving the Quality of Students' Writing in Business
Improving the Quality of Students' Writing in Business

August 06, 2018

More than one hundred delegates attended Catherine's session which may indicate that, regardless of curriculum changes, written communication remains essential for success in studies of business. Many students, however, struggle with the use of appropriate business texts, subject-specific language and conventions.

View full article →