students on the sofa

The dog ate my homework

Don’t know how many people in the history of man actually enjoyed homework – but it can’t be many!

As a trailblazing progressive school we are frequently asked about our take on homework. At Atelier 21 whilst we are not totally anti-homework per se, it does have its uses in some circumstances, our mantra is that it is only of value if it is independent, constructive and enjoyable. This follows our overall educational approach based on our patron, prolific cognitive Scientist, Guy Claxton’s ‘Power of Learning’ approach and Loris Malaguzzi’s, Reggio Emilia premise, that all learning is ‘nothing without joy.’

After a long day at school most children and students don’t want to come home to be faced with hours of dull homework which sucks the love of learning out of them – where they are either repeating tasks they are already adept at or being faced with challenging tasks they haven’t yet been taught. This type of homework is soul destroying and can create friction in a family household and disruption when a child either doesn’t want to do it, they don’t have the resources, or a parent doesn’t know how to help their child how they have been taught in school – in a supportive way that allows for mistakes and failure.

Surely after a productive day at school children should be spending their time re-charging, taking part in extracurricular activities (sport and other outside clubs) where they get to learn other skills such as teamwork and collaboration. Socialising with their friends outside of school, working out who they are and what they enjoy, enables them to build those other skills the workforce is crying out for – such as character development, empathy, teamwork, collaboration and interpersonal skills. Let’s not build robots with nothing interesting to talk about themselves when they get to interview for jobs/university.

At Atelier 21 homework does exist but not for the sake of it. Any work set is personalised to the individual, is relevant to what they are learning and their interests, made joyful (Times Table Rockstars for example) and is meaningful to the child/student. For example, our Year 7-9s might choose to work on their International Baccalaureate, Middle Years Programme personal projects.

The funny thing is we find that by taking this approach our children often decide to teach themselves new skills and research their own projects unprompted because they have developed such a love of learning in school. Our parents often comment on how surprised they are that their children want to learn things outside of school for themselves.

If you are interested in learning more about the pros and cons of homework the article below provides some interesting arguments around what the point of homework is in today’s society: