Re "Kicking Homework Out of School," Oct. 27:
As the producer of the longest-running, Emmy-award winning, live homework assistance television program in the nation, "Homework Hotline," I am deeply disturbed by the notion that homework is superfluous in the education of K-12 students. We field over 700 calls per week from students who need homework assistance. Some of them need minor reinforcement, others require more involved help, and almost all of them have no parent or sibling home in the afternoon to help. None of the students who call our hot line complain about the assignments. These students are utilizing homework to reinforce the lessons learned in the classroom, as well as learning study habits and skills that will help them succeed in college and work-life in their adult years.
When you watch the show (which is broadcast to 10 million homes on Channel 58 Monday through Thursday from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m.), you'll see the real value of homework. These students are learning, achieving, getting better grades, and advancing to higher levels of knowledge.
JON C. MERRITT
* As a special-education instructor for English at Dorsey High School, I am very interested in educational policy for all students, but especially for low-achieving minority students of the inner city. The issue of homework reflects more than just the common concerns on how much homework to assign, when to assign homework, whether or not to even assign homework. Rather, it may be more important for us as educators, parents and policy-makers to examine what kinds of homework activities are assigned and to which student populations.
Within the area of special education, most homework assignments are usually reductionistic in nature, typically including activities such as "drill and skill" work sheets, phonics attack practice sheets, vocabulary words to define. Many special educators complain that their students do not return homework assignments and often display problems of motivation and distractibility. At the other extreme of the continuum, students participating in classes for the intellectually gifted usually bring home assignments that are meaningful to their own lives, authentic (based on the real world around them) and conducive to working with others during the assignment.
Ask your child to show you a recent homework assignment. Is it a list of 20 words to define or a letter to write? Is it a phonics fill-in-the-blank work sheet or a real book to read (not a textbook)? Homework assignments reflect the teacher's and school's educational theory of how students learn! Do children learn through drill-and-skill or through motivation and interest?