It has been asserted that doing homework helps students develop effective time management skills. I don’t know if this is true or not. There has been no research to determine a correlation, much less causation, so we are left to our own intuition. Intuitively, I don’t believe it’s true. I think students with good time management skills get their homework done. I believe kids with poor time management skills get their homework done only if their parents or someone in authority is standing over them to make sure they finish it. I believe there is little change in these students over a school year or even over many school years.
The correlation I do see between homework and time management is not a good one. Homework is the result of poor time management at the administrative or classroom level. Good time management would insure that only the amount of work doable within a given time frame would be assigned. If students have to complete work at home, that means the curriculum calls for too much to be done in the school year, or that the classroom teacher has assigned more work than can be done in a day of classwork.
Perhaps this is not a result of poor time management. Perhaps it is intentional. Either the creators of the curriculum or the classroom teacher has decided that what he has to do is more important than anything the child might have to do at home. While most teachers would complain vehemently about a student taking time from the school year to go on a vacation other than at proscribed times, the teachers think nothing about imposing on family time.
In fact some schools feel their right to impose on family time is so absolute that they have begun to assign work to be completed before the school year even begins. Essentially, they are saying “your time to do as you please during the summer is not as important as what we are requiring. The book you want to read is not as important as the book we have assigned.” It is assigned so the children do not forget over the summer or so that children can discuss what we wish them to discuss on the first day of class. Of what benefit is this to the child?
I realize that most teachers voluntarily complete workshops during the summer. I understand that they pursue additional degrees on their own. I understand that the best teachers are forever trying to educate themselves about methods and child development, searching for that one thing which will spark that one student to reach for the stars. I also know that if principals start telling teachers that they must complete three graduate credit hours every semester, they must attend this workshop or that workshop over the summer, teachers will push back, and if they don’t push back many will quietly seethe at the imposition on their time.
But some schools do it anyway. They impose on the teachers’ summer and give poor reviews to the non-compliant, just like teachers do with homework and summer work. But compliance is what it’s all about. Let us behaviorally train our students to do work on their own time without reward, and punish them with grades if they don’t comply. Then, when they go to work for the job creators, they will already be conditioned to do work on their own time without benefit, understanding that they will be punished for non-compliance.
I don’t know whether homework helps develop time management skills. It’s never been studied. My intuition and time in the classroom tells me it does not. Homework is the result of poor time management, or it is an intentional intrusion into the students’ personal time, which we as adults would disdain if imposed on us by our bosses. Homework is another example of what’s bad for us is good for our children.