Home­work, who wants it? Not Ban­bury Cross­roads School

Calgary Herald - - PRIVATE SCHOOLS - SHAN­NON SUTHER­LAND-SMITH

Chil­dren will let out a cheer learn­ing there are schools in Cal­gary that are ac­tu­ally anti-home­work.

It might seem coun­ter­in­tu­itive but Ban­bury Cross­roads School is one such ex­am­ple, hav­ing never man­dated home­work, ac­cord­ing to founder and di­rec­tor Diane Swiatek.

“Our philo­soph­i­cal goals and prac­ti­cal ap­proach to learn­ing has made (home­work) un­nec­es­sary and un­de­sired,” says Swiatek.

“This is a self-di­rected learn­ing school, one of eight in the Cana­dian Coali­tion for Self-Di­rected Learn­ing. The main goal of Ban­bury is to meet the needs of in­di­vid­u­als, and to pro­mote self-suf­fi­ciency within our youth, so we en­cour­age them to be con­struc­tive de­ci­sion-mak­ers able to achieve bal­ance in their lives ... We do not co­erce them into fin­ish­ing work at a pace we de­fine. Stu­dents work at the pace they are able to ac­com­plish.”

Ac­cord­ing to a 2014 Stan­ford study pub­lished in the Journal of Ex­per­i­men­tal Ed­u­ca­tion, home­work ap­pears to be re­lated to sig­nif­i­cant in­creases in neg­a­tive im­pacts such as stress, sleep de­pri­va­tion and re­duced time spent with fam­ily, friends and on ex­tracur­ric­u­lar ac­tiv­i­ties.

Swiatek says when stu­dents use their time wisely and are work­ing ef­fi­ciently through­out the day they gen­er­ally don’t need to work at home.

“Be­sides, home­work doesn’t work,” says Swiatek, cit­ing Al­fie Kohn, an American au­thor and lec­turer in the ar­eas of ed­u­ca­tion, par­ent­ing and hu­man be­hav­iour.

“As (he) so pas­sion­ately ar­gued in The Home­work Myth, no re­search what­so­ever proves that home­work cre­ates bet­ter grades, ei­ther on stan­dard­ized tests or on school-as­signed tasks.”

She says build­ing con­struc­tive and em­pa­thetic so­cial re­la­tion­ships are pri­or­i­ties at Ban­bury and teach­ers don’t need to waste time de­vis­ing pun­ish­ments for stu­dents who do not com­plete their home­work.

“This re­moves an un­pro­duc­tive, point­less source of neg­a­tiv­ity be­tween teach­ers and stu­dents,” says Swiatek. “Home­work also may in­ter­fere with pos­i­tive feel­ings be­tween fam­ily mem­bers. When par­ents en­force home­work or as­sist with as­sign­ments, many chil­dren are em­bar­rassed and re­sent­ful to dis­play their ig­no­rance, con­fu­sion or dif­fi­cul­ties.”

She says most stu­dents would rather be do­ing pretty much any­thing but home­work.

“We be­lieve that our stu­dents, af­ter a day spent pro­duc­tively at school, should have time to un­wind with their par­ents and sib­lings, to fully en­gage in ex­pe­ri­ences and con­ver­sa­tions with them. The stu­dents have al­ways loved this idea.”

While it may be a tougher sell to get some par­ents and teach­ers on board, there is lit­tle doubt that stu­dents would re­quire less con­vinc­ing.

There is a line of thought that chil­dren can fin­ish all their work at school.

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