Concerns Affecting Homework, Part 1

As the researcher gained information for this topic, an overriding personal concern came to mind.  How can students in urban schools, some of whom go to rather deplorable home situations when the school day is done, see homework as a priority in their lives?  Vygotsky indicates that, in stage one of his zone of proximal development, assistance is needed by more capable others, such as parents, teachers, and coaches.  (North Central Regional Educational Laboratory, 1998)  What if such persons are not available to students in the home? 

Some colleagues on the NCTE-middle list serv tended to agree.  As part of her response as to why her students are not completing their homework, Melissa Cooper of Texas hypothesizes, "Many of them have outside obligations like sports or babysitting, and many are dealing with some heavy-duty stuff outside of school.  Who wants to worry about algebra when your mom is dying or you don't know when you're going to eat next?" (Cooper, M., 2000)

Tammy McCann of Tennessee responds, "When I started teaching, it was at an inner city school.  I didn't know there were actually students out there who felt it was an option NOT to do their work…[I] had great difficulty [for the six years I taught there] with about 40% of my students doing homework.  I've been at a suburban school for eight years, and I've seen the homework issue increase just about every year.  Too many excuses by parents for why their children should be allowed to get away with not doing homework!"

Harris Cooper (1994) reinforces this perspective, and takes it a step further by stating that "homework could exacerbate existing social inequalities."  Lower-income students face after school jobs and the lack of an adequate site to do homework as hurdles to its completion.

How can students in urban schools, some of whom go to rather deplorable home situations when the school day is done, homework as a priority in their lives?

Home Page | What is Dialectical Constructivism? | The Perceived Problem with Homework | Research of the Pros of Homework, Part 1 | Research of the Pros of Homework, Part 2 | Research of the Cons of Homework | Concerns Affecting Homework, Part 1 | Concerns Affecting Homework, Part 2 | Suggestions for Teachers | Conclusions