Pop into EDU Twitter and I can almost guarantee that there will be some pretty standard reform related content. One of the most cliche discussions will revolve around “HW doesn’t teach responsibility”. I don’t know the research basis for the various arguments about responsibilty. I often think “responsibility” is conflated with a “it doesn’t raise scores” argument. I’m not an expert on any of this but as the parent of a 3rd grader involved in Drama Club, Basketball, Technology Club, and an avid XBox player I will say HW is simply a pain in the ass.

Sorry to get crude but its the simplest way to tell a truth I am all to familiar with. My 8 year old son spends from 7:15 to 3:45ish (my wife is a teacher at his school and is his ride) coming home and doing more school work must seem unreasonable.

We have had plenty of fights over it.

When I talk to my students I get a similar story just with a more teenage slant. One typically “good” student has been struggling in my class recently. I assign very little homework (I do a modified flip) and give a lot of freedom during class. I try to allow students can build their own schedule (within some boundaries of course). This particular student was working on math during our scheduled time. I opened with one of My standard jokes “I don’t teach a foreign language in here” but she was not feeling it. So we just chatted. As we were got talking I began to realize why she was struggling. The school scheduled her into 7 classes (mostly college dual enrollment) and several projects and/or papers had either just been or were about to be due. Apparently she had to work a few extra shifts the last week or two as well. Sleep seemed to become less of a priority.

I have some ideas on lateness and consequences but this post is more about selfishness. I can be really selfish with my content. I literally believe that a good History education can make our country better by creating actively engaged civic minded citizens. The problem is that I need to remember that life is complicated and students are managing many prioroties and obligations. Tonight as I finish this post my son got home at 4:50, had a quick dinner, went to Cub Scouts at 5:30, left early to go to Basketball practice at 6:30, and will get home in time to shower and go to bed. I am certain that my students had nightd that were just as busy. Sure they may have prioritized social obligations like creating meaningful social bonds (hanging with friends), or went to work as a cashier at the local confidence store, or maybe took care of their baby sister while mom went to a second job. My 20 minutes of recorded lecture May seem trivial to me but it might just be a pain in the butt in a long line of pains in the butt to them…