Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Why I Don’t Assign Homework---dy/dan (Mr. Meyer)

I chose to read this blog, Why I don't Assign Homework, because our school is currently discussing (Critical Friends Network), and have been for three years now, our grading practices: what they are, what we think about them, and do we need or want to change them. One article on which we are currently reflecting is The Case Against the Zero by Doublas B. Reeves.

As with everything, I see the pros and cons with both of these points of view. I don't think I could ever stop assigning homework, but I have been kicking around the idea of not grading it, while simultaneously thinking about grading all of it for accuracy. The way I see it, as long as I am questioning these things, I'm doing something good no matter how wishy-washy I am being. We need to question practices. We need to consider new ones.

To me the current trend for grading is similar to grandma's cooking. There are things we do in grading and in cooking that we don't know why we do them. My mom taught me to wash chicken off before cooking it. When I did this in front of my five year old, she asked me why I did that. I couldn't answer her, so I called my mom and asked her. She said it was because you didn't want to get a sliver of bone. Apparently, during my mother and my grandmother's time, this was an issue. We probably don't have to worry about that anymore, so there is no need to wash the chicken.

We do the same thing with grading. Why do we assign homework? Because we had to do it. Why do we give zeros for missing assignments? Because we got zeros. Why do we grade in red? Because we were graded in red. A lot of these behaviors have stuck around, because no one has questioned them. We have already established that our world is changing; grading might need a change also.

Questions to ask ourselves about grading/homework?
  • Why am I assigning this assignment?
  • Why am I assigning this homework?
  • What academic purpose or value does this assignment have?
  • Why do I give zeros?
  • For what does this grade stand?
  • For what do I want this grade to stand or represent?


  1. Great cooking analogy! Why do we wash the chicken indeed! And I have another question/answer to add to your list:

    Why do we teach the way we do? Because it's the way we were taught. But as you have pointed out, that doesn't make it right.

    Great post!

  2. Jessica,
    I also struggle with this issue! However, I feel homework is for practice! Again, as our discussion in our meeting the other day...the students who are going to do it will do it. The students who won't...wont'! I don't think grading the homework is important just going over and checking for understanding.