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Homework?? In Art??

At the beginning of the year I always review the expectations of my class with the students. One of the things that always surprises them is my promise to never assign them homework. I don ‘t believe in homework, not in art or any other class. Too often, homework is assigned as busy work; a repetitious collection of work that mimics classroom learning. In elementary school, homework serves a purpose, but in high school, unless an assignment is relevant and meaningful, students don ‘t see it as important or necessary.

When I survey my students by asking them if they complete homework on a regular basis, about one third respond that they do.  Another third will try to complete homework that is due fifth period by doing it during 4th period. And another third just never do it at all. I sometimes have students ask if they can complete an art assignment at home.  Though I commend their industrial spirit, I more often than not advise them not to. My reasons are few, but firm. Because of the socio-economic make-up of our school, students rarely have the adequate supplies at home to complete a project started in art class. I don ‘t lend out supplies, because I never get them back.  Which brings me to point number two- usually when students bring work home to finish, I never see it again.  They “lose” it, forget it, misplace it, or ruin it- but they still want credit for it.  I have also had instances where a student has taken a project home and Mom or another family member has finished it for them.  Advanced level classes, like IB or AP art require that students complete a substantial amount of work at home, but usually by the time a student reaches that level they have the desire and capacity to work independently with a fair stock of their own supplies.

My system has worked well for me over the last 28 years but I am interested to hear what others do regarding this issue?  How is homework handled in music and drama class?  Do you assign homework on a regular basis, and if so, how is it working?  Share!

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