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The (No) Homework Revolution

The (No) Homework Revolution

As the school year comes to an end, educators are reconsidering how much homework to assign students. Something of a “homework revolution” is underway throughout the US, and also in Canada and even the Philippines, with parents saying kids should have time to be kids and “just be kids.” Notes the New York Times:

Teachers at Mango Elementary School in Fontana, Calif., are now assigning “goal work” that is “specific to individual student’s needs and that can be completed in class or at home at his or her own pace.”

The high school in the affluent northern New Jersey town of Ridgewood introduced a homework-free winter break in December.

Toronto schools banned homework for kindergartners and for older children on school holidays in 2008.

Brooklyn School of Inquiry, a program for gifted and talented elementary students, has made homework optional.

The New York Times gives some of the background behind todays “had it with homework” movement:

Homework wars have divided communities for more than a century, fanned by shifting social, political and cultural norms. In the 1950s, the launching of Sputnik ushered in heavier workloads for American students in the race to keep up with the Soviet Union. The 1983 report “A Nation at Risk” brought renewed demands for homework as American test scores lagged behind those of other countries. The testing pressures of the No Child Left Behind law over the past decade have resulted in more homework for children at younger ages.

Teachers and educators are not as gung-ho about decreasing, or eliminating, homework. There is a required curriculum for students to complete and the school day is not long enough to cover everything, and studying at home does help to reinforce what one did in class. Also, as the New York Times points out, research – and my own experience as a student and a teacher underscore — has ”long suggested that homework in small doses can reinforce basic skills and help young children develop study habits.” It is the case that younger children can only handle so much homework, as Harris Cooper, a professor of psychology and neuroscience at Duke University.

One statistic people might like to keep in mind before throwing homework out the window. According to USC’s US-China Institute, middle school and high school students in China spend 90% (average of 58 minutes per day) of their time doing their homework on average. Chinese students regularly rank #1 in the world in the math, science and reading, according to recent results of the 2009 Program for International Student Assessment (PISA).

More homework, greater academic achievement: Maybe there’s a correlation?

 

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68 comments

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10:42AM PDT on Sep 8, 2012

I've seen many teachers use excuses to give their students more homework. :(

1:54PM PDT on Apr 10, 2012

I agree that there are not enough days in the school year. Also, maybe adding an hour to the school day may give the teachers the time they need to cover the material. My 1st grader has been suffering since kindergarten with excessive homework. She barely has free time to play with her baby brother between homework, dinner, bath then bedtime.

Be honest, who remembers having homework assignments in kinder or 1st grade. I do not. I had time to play outdoors when I got home from school in elementary. The excessive homework is not solving the problem of achievement tests.

2:52PM PST on Mar 3, 2012

Thanks.

1:18PM PST on Nov 17, 2011

thanks

11:32AM PDT on Aug 28, 2011

Kids really do need more time to "just be kids", especially when their school day does not include any breaks, recess, PE, music, art, etc.--as is often the case now. Unfortunately, too many kids go home to sit in front of a TV or computer until their (often way too late) bedtime. Overworked parents don't want their kids to have homework because they feel they don't have time or energy to deal with it themselves.

11:30AM PDT on Aug 28, 2011

In some students cases no homework means nothing done all day.

10:54AM PDT on Aug 22, 2011

I am a retired teacher. I resisted the whole concept of homework except in cases where the student has makeup work due to absence or not doing it in class. Many students are given busy work (in some cases, just to keep the parents happy) or because teachers either don't have or don't take the time to sort out who would actually benefit from the additional work. In my experience, if a child can do the work without support, the work is not needed. If the work can't be done without assistance, having a child do the work without support can result in errors which, when repeated over time, simply reinforce "wrong" answers or incorrect absorption of knowledge that must be corrected. My own son refused to do homework in an advanced math class because he made "A"s on all the in class work and the tests, including pop quizzes. Made sense to me, but not to his math teacher who was a great supporter of busy work, otherwise known as homework.

We need to give kids time to be kids. In most schools now, they have little or no recess, no art, no music and very little creative learning. That's what they need to be doing after school,
not just a repetition of what they did all day.

7:22AM PDT on Aug 22, 2011

I think that it's important for children to have homework. Not to weigh them down, but as was mentioned before - a reinforcement of what was taught in school. It really helps the teacher to see what that student understands and what needs to be worked on some more. It also prepares them for the amount of homework that they'll have to do later on in their academic careers.

6:18AM PDT on Jun 26, 2011

Thee should some home work for the students.

5:08AM PDT on Jun 23, 2011

ty

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Kristina Chew Kristina Chew teaches ancient Greek, Latin and Classics at Saint Peter's University in New Jersey.... more
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