Will Covid-19 Kill Homework?

After our first full virtual learning day, I looked to my daughter finishing her dinner and said, smiling, “So, do you have any homework?”

We both broke out laughing hysterically (as one can do in these dystopian times) and then fell quiet.

“No, actually, I don’t,” she said with confidence. “And there’s nothing you can do about it.”

Will Covid-19 kill homework?

When learning becomes seamless, it really shines a spotlight on our arcane routines. What is it about virtual learning that seems to disintegrate homework? Is it the lack of physical movement from one place to another, school to home? Is it just something that is supposed to happen after dinner?

I cannot envision us going back to ‘work at home’ and ‘work at school’ once this horrible crisis is over. If homework is to survive, it can no longer just be an extension of the stuff we did all day at school, or busy work as a thin guise to convince parents that we have ‘rigor.’ Now that those lines have disappeared, we are going to have to really introspect why learning in a ‘social setting’ is important and why being home is important in a different way. (It’s the same reason we have to re-think meetings, but that’s another blog).

The data coming out of this crisis is going to be absolutely stunning. From human behavior under stress, to the rise of the introvert and independent learner, to the relationship of caretakers and children, communications platforms, online assessments, asynchronous and synchronous learning, creativity in traditional subjects, balance, and all the things we have talked about as the future of education but were just too busy to do…until a pandemic forced us to do it. I am really curious to see if homework in its current form is going to survive, and if it should.

I had the last laugh with my daughter, however. “Well, since you don’t have homework,” I said with confidence. “You can take the dog out AND do the dishes AND clean up your smelly soccer jersey on the floor AND…

Homework? You just might have met your match.

One thought on “Will Covid-19 Kill Homework?”

  1. Stephen-
    What should homework be? I know there have been a million scholarly articles and books written on this, but my simple take is this: If you need extra time to complete that task, it is homework. That was how I used to assign homework until parents had a “fit” about Johnny having no homework.
    In reality, we all have homework. Always and forever. After school and college, there are countless books, videos, websites,etc. to research on the subject you were just learning. Let’s imagine a tax accountant. he just left the office and did not finish everything, but will do it tomorrow. Right? Not necessarily. He might want to research further those tax articles to help his clients. Or watch “Wall Street” another time. Or work on another program to make him even more learned.
    In short, learning never stops. Homework should not be assigned, but be natural. We just learned about the Civil War and I assigned one of my students to read 10 Civil War journals online then create his own journal. In reality, the homework should have been innate: he should have known where to go and how to extrapolate information from the books, articles and videos he watched into his own journal entry.
    In short, I think homework is here to stay. Not busywork, but meaningful work which enriches the original assignment.
    Consider writing this blog as homework for me. So, Stephen, do I get an A?

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