As any parent can tell you, getting their child to do their homework amounts to a low-level war with a new battle every day. We have to hear about how “stupid” they find homework, while we try to both help them complete it and instill a work ethic children need to achieve success later on. While we may sometimes lose a battle or two, most parents know that they still have to win the overall war in order to ensure that their children get educated and have an opportunity to move on to college.
Unfortunately, one British school has run the white flag up on maintaining standards in schooling:
All 12-year-olds at a comprehensive will be told today that homework is being scrapped because teachers have better things to do than mark it.
Dr Patrick Hazlewood, the head teacher of St John’s in Marlborough, Wilts, who has already scrapped subject teaching, will not put it quite like that, of course. He will tell them that, to make their schooling more “relevant to life in the 21st century”, they are to be given responsibility for “managing their own learning”.
Parents, who were told on Monday, are confused because, according to school policy, “regular homework is an essential element of learning and contributes to the development of sound study habits”. They are also asked to say if they think their child has been given too little.
St. John’s considers itself on the forefront of a revolutionary change in educational philosophy. Not only do they want to scrap homework, they want to eliminate work altogether in favor of a plan to encourage students to “love learning”, trusting 12-year-olds to then use that love to go out and learn on their own. This will require parents to closely supervise the learning process, while the schools focus on citizenship, interpersonal relations, and information management.
In fact, what St. John’s proposes is to switch places with the parents. St. John’s said that teaching the national curriculum “grinds teachers into the ground,” but what good are the schools if they don’t teach any specific subjects? They want to teach values and how to get along with others in the sandbox while parents have to force their children to follow a curriculum in the hope that they won’t give up like their teachers did.
I have a better idea for the parents of St. John’s pupils. Pull them out of the school entirely and home-school them. The administration of St. John’s proposes to transform itself into a day-care center for adolescents instead of an educational facility, a pointless exercise except for indoctrination. Parents will find it no more difficult to school their children directly and honestly, and this way they don’t have to expose their kids to St. John’s surrender ethics.