Imagine a school with no alarm bells, no disciplinary penalties, students can play whenever they want and don’t be under the pressure of traditional grading. Students will not have to worry “how can I do my homework with a short time” anymore.
Instead of marking a True or False comment next to the student’s assignment, the teacher just writes “Pass” or “Not pass”. That’s what is happening at Sun Valley Primary School (in Fish Hoek, Cape Town, South Africa). It was at this school in 2015 that the president achieved success when he decided to eliminate homework.
President Gavin Keller is well known for having innovative educational methods. “Children have to do what comes naturally to them, and that’s what playing is,” he said.
Keller said he was inspired by the study of Professor Carol Dweck at Stanford University on developing the mind and research of American psychologist Angela Duckworth on willpower.
President Keller said the best way to create willpower for students is to cultivate an open-minded, which encourages adequate development and learning. According to President Keller, a rigid mindset that values accuracy and knowledge is not the best way to teach a child. It means the phrase “do my homework” is not a fear to students anymore.
Accordingly, the school’s awards are replaced by awards of will whereby the school recognizes each level of student development.
What will I do if I don’t have to do my homework
For example, at age 10, students must conduct interviews with parents and teachers, in the process, students tell teachers and parents what their learning goals were for that year and what I achieved. They don’t have to “do my homework” as usual.
The unique thing about Sun Valley is that the length of the lesson will be decided by the teacher. Therefore, if students are not eager to study after 20 minutes, they are allowed to go out and return to school later.
In this school, the teacher did not mark True or False on the students’ work, the teacher only reminded them that if they do not understand a concept, they should try harder. The teacher also tells them that it is okay to do it wrong. As well as at home, students don’t have to worry “how to do my homework, I am scared of being low mark”.
What are effects of this method
As we walked along the school’s colorful corridor, it was not hard to see why President Keller said that attendance at the school had increased. Students are generally happier since the pressure was on learning is offloaded.
Michael Raven, the school’s counselor, said: “The emotional reasoning of the students has increased since the school adopted a new educational approach.” Michael has been working at this school for 5 years and he sees a tremendous change in students.
“Without a doubt, the Sun Valley students are extremely confident and do not need to apply disciplinary punishment anymore.”
Each classroom at Sun Valley has two teachers: a teacher and a support teacher who gives special attention to children who need to be cared more.
When talking about the meaning of school education, a fourth-grader said: “Never give up what you do. I didn’t have to do my homework. Therefore I wrote a song and sang in front of the whole school and I did it because I had the will.”
Liesl Krog, a parent with two children at Sun Valley, said the family can spend quality time together rather than having to watch their children do homework. Their children do not have to worry about “how to do my homework” anymore.