Advanced search

to think so many things are done in education because of tradition and not because they have an educational purpose.

(110 Posts)
OrlandoWoolf Wed 29-Apr-15 22:24:56


2 things really. But I am sure people can think of more.

Spelling tests - if you're a good speller, you'll probably not need to practise much and you'll probably get most of them right.

Do spelling tests improve your spellings? Why do people who need to learn them get them right in the test but get them wrong in their normal writing?

Homework - does it help you learn? Remember stuff. Help you improve. Or is it done because that's the way it's always been so people expect it?

I don't think there's any evidence to support the educational effectiveness of spelling tests or homework. Good teaching and identification of reading / spelling issues helps you learn to spell.

But we like tradition, not evidence, don't we confused

Charis1 Wed 29-Apr-15 22:27:44

Spelling tests and homework both very helpful educationally.

I would be more upset about the stupid drivel ofsted enforces, like learning objectives, lunatic schemes of work, recording everything 5 times in different spread sheets, etc. that is what bogs schools and staff down and leavesthem unable to get on with the job.

Marmaladedandelions Wed 29-Apr-15 22:29:38

I think homework is unhelpful a lot of the time if I am honest.

The only useful homework is revision at GCSE level, in my very humble view.

OrlandoWoolf Wed 29-Apr-15 22:31:13

Why are spelling tests helpful?

If they help, why do kids get them right in their spellings but wrong in their work?

Homework - why is that helpful?

winewolfhowls Wed 29-Apr-15 22:31:16

I agree that homework is not very useful until it's gcse and you can use it for exam practice.

I think you should replace tradition in your title with Ofsted

Spelling tests are useful.

OrlandoWoolf Wed 29-Apr-15 22:32:25

Kids who do their homework on time and without fuss tend to be conscientious about their work anyway. Or have parents who care and try to make them do it.

winewolfhowls Wed 29-Apr-15 22:33:54

Spelling tests - the idea is to repeat the test.students improve through memory.
students learn from the repeated practice for the test- think it's called look cover something check ?

OrlandoWoolf Wed 29-Apr-15 22:35:02

I don't see spelling tests as useful. I think they are done because that's what has been done.

You can see if a child can spell by looking at their work. You can focus on phonics, spelling lessons, practising in class - but a list to learn once a week? Many kids learn them and forget them.

Knowing how to apply the rules in a sudden test is a much more useful assessment of spelling.

ZeroFunDame Wed 29-Apr-15 22:50:17

Spelling tests ought to be hugely useful. If carefully prepared they should enable a chid to discern patterns in spelling and comprehension of words. This is discrete from being able to read any particular word on a page.

And the skill of applying oneself to learning lists of words becomes rather more crucial when a child progresses to academic learning of further modern languages. That can't be done thoroughly without conscientious attention to endless lists of vocabulary.

As for homework in general - from what I read it does appear to have lost much of its original meaning and purpose.

ZeroFunDame Wed 29-Apr-15 22:52:17

... comprehensibility would be better perhaps.

Feenie Wed 29-Apr-15 22:52:56

The research shows that spelling tests are not useful in improving spelling. My school has never used them for this reason.

ZeroFunDame Wed 29-Apr-15 22:57:42

Can you be more specific Feenie?

Research is not neutral.

Gileswithachainsaw Wed 29-Apr-15 22:59:13


spellings? well whoopee dio they learn a fee words for a few days then forget them all. What a marvellous use of time.

homework? don't kids these days spend enough time in dashing about here there and everywhere to breakfast clubs or child minders or grand parents etc. god forbid they do some thing outside of school that they enjoy without it meaning the entire weekend is spent doing the damn thing. Once hone kids should be free to play out or see friends or sit in the pyjamas watching crap on TV.

but hey, why would kids be outside in the fresh air when they could be writing about the importance of honesty or turning coke bottles into mythical creatures. not as if they are already tired with fried brains or anything.

fearcutsdeeperthanswords Wed 29-Apr-15 23:00:10

Not sure about spelling tests but I've never felt h/w at primary level does much to enhance learning.

I've always heard its because it prepares them for independent work at secondary but I've never seen the evidence that this is the case.

I worked at a school that tried to stop h/w by lengthening school day and having an hour of the school day to do independent work. It was met with resistance from the parents who wanted h/w so they didn't make the change. Personally I think h/w is beneficial during GCSE/A level and before then, has limited benefit. The only exception is reading books during primary years.

OrlandoWoolf Wed 29-Apr-15 23:04:04

Good teaching helps pupils see word patterns and learn and apply rules. A list of 10 words (even based around a pattern or rule) means that some children might learn them for a week.

If a child is struggling with their spelling, spelling tests won't help.

I do think that expectations based on tradition has a lot to answer for. Schools are scared to be different because of what people expect. I don't think my spelling tests helped me learn to spell. I was a good speller. All the test showed was that I was a good speller.

steppemum Wed 29-Apr-15 23:04:58

research shows that spellings should always be from child's own writing, so pick 4 words from last piece of writing and practise those. Class/ group lists are much less useful.

Homework - at primary level it has been shown to be not helpful in improving learning, except for reading and times tables, the rest should be scrapped.
It has shown to be useful at secondary.

and my ds has just started secondary. he kicked against homework all through primary as a waste of time. he was right, but since starting secondary it is relevant, follow on/finish classwork, he does it on time and it is properly marked and followed up.

worksallhours Wed 29-Apr-15 23:10:40

Orlando, I would say those two things do have an educational purpose.

Spelling tests force pupils to learn the correct spelling of words. If you don't set tests, pupils do not have an enormous motivation to learn spelling or, indeed, vocabulary. I always think it is important to mix the two.

There is this strange belief that pupils pick up such skills through some sort of osmosis; in my experience, they don't. It is really quite surprising how many times a student may read a word, yet when it comes to writing said word, they make mistakes.

Pupils/students need to practice; they need to revisit words and letters. I personally think there should be more repetition built into teaching and learning spelling and vocabulary -- purely so that spelling becomes coded into your procedural memory, which is really what this sort of thing is all about.

Although I have to say that writing a word out in the context of a viable sentence again and again until you cover two sheets of A5 is possibly one of the best ways to learn both meaning and spelling. It is far less stressful than test conditions and works just as well for procedural memory.

Homework, again, works well when it is about reinforcing rules or codes through repetition or practice, say, a page of sums using a concept you have learnt that day in class. The different environment helps here too as you are forcing your brain to use and apply the code in a different set of circumstances; it can be quite surprising how your brain can compartmentalise certain items of information as only pertaining to one particular environment.

It is all about insulting those neural connections. grin

And, yes, I come from the school of thought that believes the best way to succeed in a discipline is to put in the necessary hours of focused "practice" or utilisation of a code or concept. The way the British school system works does not really allow for this in any subject during school hours, so the only other option is for some of that practice to occur outside of the school environment -- ie. homework.

steppemum Wed 29-Apr-15 23:11:54

also - doing homework at primary as a forerunner for a skill needed at secondary is pants.
Primary should teach what primary needs, it isn't there to do secondary schools work for them.

Actually our school has scrapped paper maths homework and now has maths homework on a maths games site, and a club for those who can't access it at home. It is fab and kids love it.

Gileswithachainsaw Wed 29-Apr-15 23:13:38

But kids in primary are as young as four. There is no putting in the hours.

just what benefit is there to pushing 4/5 year olds who are already exhausted into doing work at home?

Surely for the majority of primary school there is as much benefit to the extra rest and hours in bed or expanding imaginations playing with friends as there is to homework.

worksallhours Wed 29-Apr-15 23:14:12

insulating, not insulting.

See! Perfect example there of one of my coded networks. I write "insulting" more than "insulating", so my fingers type it first. grin

AnnaFiveTowns Wed 29-Apr-15 23:16:58

Lots of daft things are done in schools with little or no evidence to support their worth. Poor kids. And poor teachers. YANBU

LegsOfSteel Wed 29-Apr-15 23:17:54

I never understand the problem people have with homework. DDs homework is generally a reading book twice a week, some spelling words and sentences and maths practice. I don't understand why people object to it.
I would get rid of religious education at the lower primary levels. I think knowing about all religions is useful and potentially interesting but having 6 year olds colouring in pictures of Jesus or whatever is just a waste of time. Use that time for more useful subjects - maths and literacy. My DD and her friends all think RE is boring which is a shame - to be put off something at a young age.

fleecyjumper Wed 29-Apr-15 23:22:40

Learning to spell a list of words in the way you describe is pointless. Learning spellings in an effective manner is good. Homework for primary school children is uneccesary. Many parents expect word lists to be sent home and they expect homework. The school wants to please the parents so the teacher has to provide whatever their personal opinion.

worksallhours Wed 29-Apr-15 23:24:05

Giles But kids in primary are as young as four. There is no putting in the hours.

But many of them are. This is where the controversial issue of "cultural capital in the home" comes into play.

The child that gets a bedtime story for 30 minutes every night will get 182 hours more exposure to words, story, ideas and focused listening opportunity every year than a child that does not have a story read to them.

Over a period of three or four years, the accumulation of these hours starts to have an enormous impact.

From a teaching and social mobility point of view, how can an education system even begin to level this out? What tools do we have?

Well, we have homework. We have readers for primary-school pupils to take home.

LegsOfSteel Wed 29-Apr-15 23:24:37

And the wearing of school ties! What's the educational use of those? Useless piece of school uniform in my opinion.

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now