"The Cult(ure) of Homework" and Detention

"The Cult(ure) of Homework" is the title of the first chapter in Cathy A. Vatterott's "Rethinking Homework". In this chapter, Vatterott highlights the following widely held but unexamined preconceptions:  (1) We must extend learning beyond the classroom; (2) Activities that are intellectual are more valuable; (3) Children learn responsibility through homework; (4) More homework means greater rigor; and (5) Homework means better teachers and students. These preconceptions are really nonsense. One thing, however, is certainly true: Homework can increase inequity in education. Vatterott correctly states, "Despite there being more diversity among learners in our schools than ever, many teachers continue to assign the same homework to all students in the class and continue to disproportionately fail students from lower-income households for not doing homework, in essence punishing them for lack of an adequate environment in which to do homework." I had to add "detention" to the title of this post because in this regard, detention is another practice schools cling to despite the fact that it is ineffective and that the practice punishes disproportionately students of color, students with disabilities, and students from low-income families.

Above copied from Big Nate "A Good Old-Fashioned Wedgie"

On detention, research is also clear. "Sanctions such as asking pupils to miss break, or giving detentions, are seen to be counter-productive in encouraging pupils to work hard in class," is one of the major findings provided by Ruth Payne in "Using rewards and sanctions in the classroom: pupils’ perceptions of their own responses to current behaviour management strategies", an article published in Educational Review.

And I do not have to look far to see that detention is not applied fairly. The following is what we have at Fairfax county.


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