The consensus regarding the necessity and purpose of assigning homework, seems to affirm the practice. When we are mindful of the learners in the classroom, we must recall that much ‘diversity’ exists among them.
The racial and cultural diversity MAY be obvious, but the there is diversity of the ‘home’ as a learning environment that can impact student performance. Family dynamics, family income, access and opportunity are but a few of the variables we must consider. It is far better to inquire about the unfamiliar rather than assume from your subjective, privileged, and deficit- influenced perceptions alone.
For instance, a student who is given an assignment that is tech infused, it must not be assumed that every student will have access to a pc, laptop or ipad/tablet. It may be a safe assumption that most students will have access to a smartphone, but that is not comparable to the aforementioned web-capable tech tools.
In an area that is underserved, under-resourced, with more risk factors characteristic of those who live at or in poverty, there are realities that we must understand. The home may be headed by a single woman, who may or may not work outside of the home. The housing situation may be perceived as ‘below’ our standards, and there may be cramped or crowded sleeping quarters. These are merely considerations, and we should not assume that this characterizes ALL families who ‘look’ the part.
There may be younger and/or older siblings in the home and bedrooms and bed may be shared. In these environments, factors such as those mentioned are only what we can see, for the picture may not be complete. So, assigning homework must be accompanied by an extremely mindful and empathic awareness. Unless we ensure that every student has equal access to quiet spaces, the needed supplies and a PC with web access, we can’t always admonish and embarrass little Johnny when his homework is incomplete. So, be considerate and mindful, AND establish meaningful relationships with both your students and their families. Homework IS important, and so is working with the HOME!