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PLANS FOR IMPROVEMENT There should be definite regulations forbidding the assignment of an excessive amount of home work. Principals must be held strictly responsible for the supervision not only of the amount, but also of the kind of home work which shall be required, or permitted. They should also consider the satisfactory execution of any plans or rules which the teachers may adopt in this matter, as an important factor in the annual ratings based on “teaching ability.”

In addition to this the pupils must be made to understand that it is wrong for them to ask their parents to help them in the preparation of their home work. Children who bring in work which is largely the result of the efforts of their parents, are not only encouraged to be dishonest, but they are also losing the training in self-reliance which is one of the chief benefits of properly controlled home work.

Teachers must not let their judgment regarding the excellence of written home work be affected too favorably by the expensive notebook or fancy paper which may be used for the purpose by the well-to-do pupils. Very frequently the teacher should distribute one sheet of paper to each pupil, and not permit him to use any other for the written exercise required. This makes the competition a fair one. It is also valuable as a lesson in economy.

There is no doubt that some teachers object to written home work because of the energy which they must necessarily spend in correcting the exercises. If teachers do assign home work, however, it is only fair that they should supervise it properly, laying special emphasis upon: (a) honesty; (b) neatness; (c) accuracy. The first two items require very little time. The third-accuracy-should receive the most careful attention, especially in grammar and arithmetic, where the recurrence of errors can be easily prevented.

In the subject of arithmetic, the principal should require that at least one of the problems assigned for home work should be a problem involving principles studied in a lower grade. This will not only assure some consistent review work, but it will also give the pupils a wholesome respect for the work of previous grades. Frequently when a pupil reaches the grade in which percentage is taught, he becomes extremely careless about common and decimal fractions, which are, however, the easiest means of solving many percentage problems.

A teacher should not acquire the habit of assigning the same number of problems in arithmetic, a certain number of words in spelling, or a definite number of paragraphs or pages in geography or in history. The relative difficulty of the work must always be considered, and the logical units of the subject matter should not be separated.

In a few schools, the principals object to home work and either forbid it entirely or else make it a voluntary task. This plan seems to reduce the authority of the teachers, and is not to be recommended. If the principal is afraid that too much work will be assigned, he should arrange to have only the backward students do home work every day. Assignments to normal pupils may then be given every other day.

Careful observation confirms the opinion that many children feel that they have done their lessons, as soon as they complete the written work assigned for preparation. Such subjects as history, geography, and grammar, therefore, receive very little attention and are often entirely neglected. Some teachers have devised the plan of asking the pupils to record upon the written exercise the time spent upon the lessons assigned, as well as that devoted to the written work. The results of such a scheme are frequently unsatisfactory because children are likely to exaggerate the amount of time they spend in study and hence their statements are not very reliable, unless they are countersigned by the parents.

Progressive principals will do well to forbid home work in letter writing or in composition, except in the highest grade. Too often, pupils receive material assistance from older members of the family, and the work submitted is in no sense original. Any work in composition should usually be limited to the copying of corrected drafts.

CONCLUSION Any of the evils which are attendant upon the assignment of home lessons may be cured by more careful supervision by the principals. Parents wish home work, pupils benefit by it, and most teachers welcome it as a valuable supplement to classroom instruction. The following recommendations deserve the attention of all educators and seem likely to improve the conditions in our elementary schools. They include the combined opinions of the many educators of our city who helped to formulate, or who sent replies to the questionnaire issued by the New York Academy of Public Education. We believe that the suggestions offered are based upon sufficiently accurate data to have scientific value, and that the standards they set are worthy of the careful consideration and imitation of teachers and principals in all graded schools.

SUGGESTIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS (1) Out of 616 replies, 564 votes were recorded in favor of home study. This large majority proves conclusively a real demand for its continuance under proper supervision,

(2) Compulsory home work should be prohibited below the fourth school year.

(3) In the seventh year classes, the maximum time for home lessons should be one hour. In the eighth year classes, it should be one hour and a half.

(4) There is a substantial agreement, that home study properly explained and carefully supervised, will develop self-reliance, neatness, concentration, accuracy, industry, responsibility, thoroness, and the study habit.

(5) 476 out of 554 replies agree that proper home study is a factor in the improvement not only of the school, but of the home as well.

(6) All principals and teachers must use every means to make home work both honest and effective.

(7) Systematic plans must be made for the efficient supervision of all home work, so that it may not become an undue strain upon the energy of the class teacher, nor take time which should be devoted to classroom instruction.

(8) The fact that 98% of the 4252 boys, and 97% of the 4624 girls who attended the evening study rooms in social and recreation centers last year were promoted, justifies this work, and proves the necessity for its continuance and extension.

(9) A careful analysis of the time limits set by 515 principals and teachers, shows that in assigning home work, actual study should require one-half the additional time which is given to the written work.

(10) It is believed that since 378 replies out of 538 strongly opposed the plan of giving credit for outside home work in music, cooking, and like subjects, its proper administration in a large city is not practicable.

(11) A decided majority (446 out of 560) justifies the recommendation that the school study period should be used both for actual study and for the proper explanation of home lessons.

(12) Principals have no more important duty than that of carefully supervising both the assignments of home study and the methods of determining the honesty and efficiency of the results.

(13) No home work should be permitted, unless adequate explanations have been given in school by the teacher.

(14) In departmental work, there is grave danger of the assignment of excessive home work. In the graduating classes, however, pupils must become accustomed to home work, or they will be badly handicapped when they enter high school.

(15) In most schools, it is advisable to ask the parent to sign the written home work at least once a week.

(16) In major subjects like arithmetic and grammar, only the A pupils should be expected to do all the work assigned. The B and C pupils should be given a smaller portion.

(17) Below the high schools, no new work involving unexplained principles should be assigned, except as a voluntary task.

(18) The chief aim of home work should be to supplement the classroom instruction. It should be educational, and should not be regarded as a preventive measure to keep children off the streets.

(19) To a great degree, home work will vary according to neighborhood conditions. Every principal must, there

, fore, be held strictly accountable for the needs of his or her particular school.

(20) Quality, not quantity, should be the standard of efficiency in judging the results of home work.

EDWARD W. STITT DISTRICT SUPERINTENDENT OF Schools

New YORK CITY

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