Dealing with Homework Resistance

Teachers often ask me how they can convince students to do their homework. Many reveal that they have several students who don’t care about homework and refuse to do it.

When it comes to homework, remember that you cannot force learning. In fact, there are thousands of capable, mature, responsible adults who rarely did their homework in school.

As I mention in my book Discipline Without Stress, I do not use the term, “homework.” I differentiate between work and effort. I use the term, “home assignment.” So the question teachers are really asking me is: “How can I get students to put forward the effort to do what I assign them to do?”

The answer starts with the teacher. What has the teacher done to arouse interest, curiosity, or the necessity of the home assignment to reinforce and/or reflect upon the learning?

If the teacher is not successful in influencing the student to put forward the effort to learn, how can discipline in the form of punishing the student be justified? Is causing harm or intentionally “hurting” a youngster in the student’s or the teacher’s best interests? And most important, will the motivation be to avoid punishment or to learn? If it is the former, how long will the learning last?

The success rate would increase if the teacher were to collaborate and work WITH the students by convincing them that completing home assignments would be in the students’ own best interests. The teacher can suggest what the possible consequences of the effort (or lack of it) would bring.

If students choose not to put forward the effort for something that is in their own best interest, then that is their choice. The resulting consequences (lack of increased skill and/or knowledge and resulting lack of feelings of satisfaction) are negated by the students. Skills, knowledge, and feelings cannot be IMPOSED by the teacher, but they can certainly be encouraged.