Homework, who wants it? Not Banbury Crossroads School
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.