It happens every week.
I return from the rigours and challenges of my job as a primary deputy head, step through the door of the family home and prepare to be ensconced in the joys of family life for the weekend.
And then I find out my children have homework. Quite often the children will turf out some hastily photocopied sheets that will take them an hour or so on a Saturday morning. Normally these sheets will be either laughably easy or completely incomprehensible.
Worse than the photocopied sheets is the project.
I now regret all those years were, as an inexperienced teacher, I set the children a project over the weekend or a half term break. If I could, I would gather all those children together for my own version of a truth and reconciliation commission and find some way to apologise for my mistakes. Mercifully most of my teaching has been in more deprived areas, where the parents wouldn’t have any time for my benign errors – I’ve not taught that many children from Middle Class backgrounds where there would have been project-damaged.
The thing is, middle-class parents like me have pride – education pride. We don’t like to be outdone by other middle-class parents. And so we work ourselves to the bone to make sure our children’s project look GREAT. Let’s be honest, we pretty much do them ourselves.
What a strange thing to do! Imagine that – an education system where the adult does the work for the child. Bonkers.
For years now, I’ve been increasingly convinced that homework serves no purpose, especially at a primary level. In fact the only reason we do it is to ‘get children ready for secondary’ – it has no educational merit in its own right.
And then that Sutton Trust report came out recently and verified my personally held convictions with actual research.
And here’s the irony.
I had a load of ideas of things I was going to do with my son today. Dad-type things that us middle class fathers are supposed to do. But I suspended them so I could help him with his homework. And after going through the steps needed to make his Tudor House, we both realised that after half an hour or so, he didn’t need my help anymore. So now I’m writing this blog.
Writing this blog instead of spending time with my son.
What kind of madness is this?