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Tumbleweeds Newspaper, Spring 2003, pg. 24

Putting Home Back Into Homework

Editor's Note: The mother-daughter writing and teaching team of Dawn Wink and Joan Wink, Ph.D., contribute a section from their book, Teaching to Learn, Learning to Teach: Passionate Pedagogy, to be published this fall by Allyn & Bacon. Dawn Wink of Eldorado has 12 years experience in education. Joan Wink is a professor of education at California State University / Stanislaus.

Joan reflects: As a teacher, I assigned homework and I dreaded it. I spent hours and days collecting homework, reading homework, recording homework and helping students look for lost homework.

Slowly, I realized that homework privileged a particular type of student: those who are safe, well-fed and surrounded by supportive families. Knowing the difference these factors make, and the implications of family investments (or the lack of such investments) in children's learning, made me appreciate the importance of the factors over which I do have control in my students' lives, and try to assign homework accordingly.

I embrace the concept of funwork, proposed by educators and authors D. Scott Enright and Mary Lou McCloskey. The term "funwork," as opposed to homework, captures the notion that learning together within family units can be fun, interesting and pedagogically sound.

Alma Flor Ada extends this idea to say that homework should not be additional schoolwork, but rather that it is homework because it requires the interaction of students with their families.

Dawn suggests: Here are five ideas for putting home back into homework: