I'm reading The Homework Myth: Why Our Kids Get Too Much of a Bad Thing by Alfie Kohn. The book raises a lot of interesting issues about homework, and also about the supposed raising of standards. I've been uncomfortable with the way the word "rigor" has been tossed about so much lately. Some thoughts on the topic appear in the book:
Sunday, January 14, 2007
"...some parents seem to figure that as long as their kids have lots of stuff to do every night, never mind what it is, then learning must be taking place. Educational quality is assumed to be synonymous with "rigor," and rigor, in turn, is thought to be reflected by the quantity and difficulty of assignments." (20)
Kohn writes about how the term "raising the bar" comes from showing horses and how that ought to cause us to stop and think. He adds:
"It's not just the etymology of the term "raising the bar" that should provoke questions, for example; it's the fact that this phrase signals an agenda of doing the same thing we've always done in classrooms, except now with fewer kids being likely to succeed. Almost a century ago, John Dewey reminded us that the value of what students do "resides in its connection with a stimulation of greater thoughtfulness, not in the greater strain it imposes." (122)
I'm wondering where most of QHST's teachers stand on the concept of "rigor" and on the homework question.