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The End of Homework
By etta kralovec and john buell, category: nonfiction.
Aug 01, 2001 | ISBN 9780807042199 | 5-1/2 x 8-1/2 --> | ISBN 9780807042199 --> Buy
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About The End of Homework
Etta Kralovec and John Buell are educators who dared to challenge one of the most widely accepted practices in American schools. Their provocative argument first published in this book, featured in Time and Newsweek, in numerous women’s magazines, on national radio and network television broadcasts, was the first openly to challenge the gospel of “the more homework the better.” Consider: * In 1901, homework was legally banned in parts of the U.S. There are no studies showing that assigning homework before junior high school improves academic achievement. * Increasingly, students and their parents are told that homework must take precedence over music lessons, religious education, and family and community activities. As the homework load increases (and studies show it is increasing) these family priorities are neglected. * Homework is a great discriminator, effectively allowing students whose families “have” to surge ahead of their classmates who may have less. * Backpacks are literally bone-crushing, sometimes weighing as much as the child. Isn’t it obvious we’re overburdening our kids?
Also by Etta Kralovec
The RIF* Guide to Encouraging Young Readers
Homeschooling: The Early Years
Your Gifted Child
All Things Being Equal
Parenting Your Asperger Child
The Complete Idiot’s Guide to College Biology
Bridging the Gap
Educating for Character
Is it possible that homework isn’t good for kids? Dare we even consider such a shocking idea? . . . Does it make children, teachers, and parents angry at each other rather than allied with each other? –Deborah Meier, author of The Power of Their Ideas and Will Standards Save Public Education? , in her Mission Hill School News “The increasing amount of homework may not be helping students to learn more; indeed, it often undermines the students’ health, the development of personal interests, and the quality of family life.” –Ted Sizer and Nancy Faust Sizer, authors of The Students Are Watching
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Review: The End of Homework: How Homework Disrupts Families, Overburdens Children, and Limits Learning
(An updated version of this piece is available at this link.)
The End of Homework by Etta Kralovec and John Buell offers a succinct and researched account of why homework does little to actually improve academic performance, and instead hurts a family’s overall well-being. Kralovec and Buell analyze and dissect homework studies over the last few decades, finding that most research supports their claims or, at-best, makes dubious claims on the affects of homework. Although written in 2000, The End of Homework makes arguments that are only strengthened today: homework is discriminatory toward the poor (and the wealth gap has grown), it separates families from their children (and families work longer hours, and homework assigned has increased), and academic results are mixed (and recent studies reflect this.)
At Human Restoration Project , one of the core systemic changes we suggest is the elimination of homework. Throughout this piece, I will include more recent research studies that add to this work. I believe that the adverse affects of homework are so strong that any homework assigned, outside of minor catching up or incredibly niche cases, does more harm than good.
Summarized within The End of Homework , as well as developmental psychologists, sociologists, and educators, are the core reasons why homework is not beneficial:
Homework is Inequitable
In the most practical terms, calls for teachers to assign more homework and for parents to provide a quiet, well-lit place for the child to study must always be considered in the context of the parents’ education, income, available time, and job security. For many of our fellow citizens, jobs have become less secure and less well paid over the course of the last two decades.
Americans work the longest hours of any nation . Individuals in 2006 worked 11 hours longer than their counterparts in 1979. In 2020, 70% of children live in households where both parents work. And the United States is the only country in the industrial world without guaranteed family leave. The results are staggering: 90% of women and 95% of men report work-family conflict . According to the Center for American Progress , “the United States today has the most family-hostile public policy in the developed world due to a long-standing political impasse.”
As a result, parents have much less time to connect with their children. This is not a call to a return to traditional family roles, or even to have stay-at-home parents. Rather, our occupational society is structured inadequately to allow for the use of homework, and Americans must change how labor laws demand their time. For those who work in entry level positions, such as customer service and cashiers, there is an average 240% turnover per year due to lack of pay, poor conditions, work-life balance, and mismanagement. Family incomes continue to decline for lower- and middle-class Americans, leaving more parents to work increased hours or multiple jobs. In other words, parents, especially poor parents, have less opportunities to spend time with their children, let alone foster academic “gains” via homework.
In an effort to increase engagement in homework, teachers have been encouraged to create interesting, creative assignments. Although this has good intentions, rigorous homework with increased complexity places more impetus on parents. As Gary Natrillo, an initial proponent of creative homework, stated later:
‘…not only was homework being assigned as suggested by all the ‘experts,’ but the teacher was obviously taking the homework seriously, making it challenging instead of routine and checking it each day and giving feedback. We were enveloped by the nightmare of near total implementation of the reform recommendations pertaining to homework…More creative homework tasks are a mixed blessing on the receiving end. On the one hand, they, of course, lead to higher engagement and interest for children and their parents. On the other hand, they require one to be well rested, a special condition of mind not often available to working parents…’
Time is a luxury to most Americans. With increased working hours, in conjunction with extreme levels of stress, many Americans don’t have the necessary mindset to adequately supply children with the attention to detail for complex homework. As Kralovec and Buell state,
To put it plainly, I have discovered that after a day at work, the commute home, dinner preparations, and the prospect of baths, goodnight stories, and my own work ahead, there comes a time beyond which I cannot sustain my enthusiasm for the math brain teaser or the creative story task.
Americans are some of the most stressed people in the world. Mass shootings, health care affordability, discrimination, sexual harassment, climate change, the presidential election, and literally: staying informed have caused roughly 70% of people to report moderate or extreme stress , with increased rates for people of color, LGBTQIA Americans, and other discriminated groups. 90% of high schoolers and college students report moderate or higher stress, with half reporting depression and lack of energy and motivation .
Perhaps the solution to academic achievement in America isn’t doubling down on test scores or increasing the work students do at home, but solving the underlying systemic inequities : the economic and discriminatory problems that plague our society? Kralovec and Buell note,
Citing the low test scores of American students has become a favorite cocktail party game. However, some scholars have offered a more nuanced explanation for the poor showing by U.S. students in international academic performance comparisons, suggesting that it may have more to do with high levels of childhood poverty and a lack of support for families in the United States than with low academic standards, shorter school days, and fewer hours spent on homework.
Finland, frequently cited as a model education system, enjoys some of the highest standards of living in the world:
- Finland’s life expectancy is 81.8 years, compare to the US’ 78.7 years and a notable difference exists in the US between rich and poor . Further, America’s life expectancy is declining, the only industrialized country with this statistic .
- Finland’s health care is rated best in the world and only spends $3,078 per capita, compared to $8,047 in the US.
- Finland has virtually no homelessness , compared to 500,000 homeless in the United States .
- Finland has the lowest inequality levels in the EU , compared to the United States with one of the highest inequality levels in the world . Research has demonstrated that countries with lower inequality levels are happier and healthier .
Outside of just convincing you to flat-out move to Finland, these statistics reflect that potentially — instead of investing hundreds of millions of dollars in initiatives to increase national test scores , such as homework strategies, curriculum changes, and nationwide “raising the bar” initiatives — the US should invest in programs that universally help our daily lives, such as universal healthcare and housing. The solution to test scores is rooted in solving America’s underlying inequitable society — shining a light on our core issues — rather than making teachers solve all of our community’s problems.
But Wait, Despite All This…Does Homework Even Work!?
‘Extensive classroom research of ‘time on task’ and international comparisons of year-round time for study suggest that additional homework might promote U.S. students’ achievement.’ This written statement by some of the top professionals in the field of homework research raises some difficult questions. More homework might promote student achievement? Are all our blood, sweat, and tears at the kitchen table over homework based on something that merely might be true? Our belief in the value of homework is akin to faith. We assume that it fosters a love of learning, better study habits, improved attitudes toward school, and greater self-discipline; we believe that better teachers assign more homework and that one sign of a good school is a good, enforced homework policy.
Numerous studies of homework reflect an inconsistent result. Not only does homework rarely demonstrate large, if any, academic gains for testing, there are many negative impacts on the family that are often ignored.
- Countries that assigned the least amount of homework: Denmark, Czech Republic, had higher test scores than those with the most amount of homework: Iran, Thailand .
- Quality of instruction, motivation, and ability are all correlated with student success in school. Yet homework may be marginal or counterproductive .
- Of all homework assigned, homework only saw marginal increases in math and science standardized testing , and had no bearing on grades.
- Homework added pressure and societal stress to those who already experienced the same at home , causing a further divide in academic performance (due to lack of time and financial stress.)
By bringing schoolwork home, the well-intentioned belief of promoting equity through high standards has the adverse affect of causing further inequity. Private and preparatory schools are notorious for extreme levels of homework assignment . Yet, many progressive schools assign no homework and achieve the same levels of college and career success . Again, the biggest predictor of college success has nothing to do with rigorous preparation, and everything to do with family income levels. 77% of students from high income families graduated from a highly competitive college, whereas 9% of students from low income families did the same .
School curriculum obsession in homework is likely rooted in studies that demonstrate increased test scores as a result of assigned homework. The End of Homework deciphers this phenomena:
Cooper’s work provides us with one more example of a problem that routinely bedevils all the sciences: the relationship between correlation and causality. If A and B happen simultaneously, we do not know whether A causes B or B causes A, or whether both phenomena occur casually together or are individually determined by another set of variables…Thus far, most studies in this area have amounted to little more than crude correlations that cannot justify the sweeping conclusions some have derived from them.
If other countries demonstrate educational success (albeit measured through standardized testing) with little to no assigned homework and limited school hours , shouldn’t we take a step back and analyze the system as a whole, rather than figure out better homework schemes?
A Reflection of Neoliberal Society
According to New York State’s Teacher of the Year in 1990:
‘[Schools] separate parents and children from vital interaction with each other and from true curiosity about each other’s lives. Schools stifle family originality by appropriating the critical time needed for any sound idea of family to develop — then they blame the family for its family to be a family. It’s like a malicious person lifting a photograph from the developing chemicals too early, then pronouncing the photographer incompetent.’
Education often equates learning with work. I have to stop myself from behaving like an economics analysist: telling students to quit “wasting time”, stating that the purpose of the lesson is useful for future earnings, seeing everything as prep for college and career (and college is ultimately just for more earnings in a career), and making blanket assumptions that those who aren’t motivated will ultimately never contribute to society, taking on “low levels” of work that “aren’t as important” as other positions.
Since the nineteenth century, developmental psychology has been moving away from the notion that children are nothing more or less than miniature adults. In suggesting that children need to learn to deal with adult levels of pressure, we risk doing them untold damage. By this logic, the schoolyard shootings of recent years may be likened to ‘disgruntled employee’ rampages.
This mentality is unhealthy and unjust. The purpose of education should be to develop purpose. People live happier and healthier lives as a result of pursuing and developing a core purpose. Some people’s purpose is related to their line of work, but there is not necessarily a connection. However, the primary goal stated by districts, states, and the national government of the education system is to make “productive members of society.” When we double down on economic principles to raise complex individuals, it’s no wonder we’re seeing such horrific statistics related to childhood .
Further, the consistent pressure to produce for economic gain raises generations of young people to believe that wealth is a measurement of success and that specific lines of work create happiness. Teachers and parents are told to make their children “work hard” for future success and develop “grit.” Although grit is an important indicator of overcoming obstacles , it is not developed by enforcing grit through authoritarian classrooms or meaningless, long tasks . In fact, an argument could be made that many Americans accept their dramatically poor work-life balance and lack of access to needs such as affordable health care by being brought up in a society that rewards neoliberal tendencies of “working through it” to “eventually achieve happiness.”
Kralovec and Buell state,
Many of us would question whether our fighting with our children for twelve years about homework could possibly foster good habits. In contrast, participating in the decisions of the household and collaborating with others on common chores, from cooking to cleaning to doing routine repairs, are important life skills that also require good work habits. For many children, these habits are never learned because homework gets in the way of that work.
Americans have more difficulty than ever raising children, with increasing demands of time and rising childcare costs . Children often need to “pick up the slack” and help taking care of the home. In fact, children with chores show completely positive universal growth across the board . When teachers provide more and more homework, they take away from the parents’ ability to structure their household according to their needs. As written in The End of Homework ,
Most of us find we do not have enough time with our children to teach them these things; our ‘teaching’ time is instead taken up with school-mandated subjects. We often wonder if we wouldn’t have less tension in our society over prayer in schools if our children had more time for religious instruction at home and for participation in church activities. When school is the virtually exclusive center of the child’s educational and even moral universe, it is not surprising that so many parents should find school agendas (with which they may or may not agree) a threat to their very authority and identity.
Of course, this is not to say that it is all the teacher’s fault. Educators face immense pressure to carry out governmental/school policies that place test scores at the forefront. Many of these policies require homework , and an educator’s future employment is centered on enacting these changes:
As more academic demands are placed on teachers, homework can help lengthen the school day and thus ensure ‘coverage’ — that is, the completion of the full curriculum that each teacher is supposed to cover during the school year…This in itself places pressure on teachers to create meaningful homework and often to assign large amounts of it so that the students’ parents will think the teacher is rigorous and the school has high academic standards. Extensive homework is frequently linked in our minds to high standards.
Therefore, there’s a connection to be made between “work”-life balance of children and the people who are tasked with teaching them. 8% of the teacher workforce leaves every year , many concerned with work-life balance . Perhaps teachers see an increased desire to “work” students in their class and at home due to the pressures they face in their own occupation?
We have little opportunity to enjoy recreation, community events, local politics, or family life. Our diminished possibilities in this regard in turn reinforce our reliance on wages and the workplace. And even the family time that remains after the demands of work and commuting are met is increasingly structured by the requirements of the workplace and school.
The more we equate work with learning, and the more we accept a school’s primary purpose to prepare workers, the less we actually succeed at promoting academics. Instead, we bolster the neoliberal tendencies of the United States to work hard, yet comparably to other countries’ lifestyle gains, achieve little. The United States must examine the underlying inequities of peoples’ lives, rather than focus on increasing schools’ workloads and lessening children’s free time for mythical academic gains that lead to little change. Teacher preparation programs and popular authors need to stop promoting “ interesting and fun ways to teach ‘x’! ” and propose systemic changes that radically change the way education is done, including systemic changes to society at large. Only then will the United States actually see improved livelihoods and a better education system for all.
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Jay Caspian Kang
The movement to end homework is wrong.
By Jay Caspian Kang
Do students really need to do their homework?
As a parent and a former teacher, I have been pondering this question for quite a long time. The teacher side of me can acknowledge that there were assignments I gave out to my students that probably had little to no academic value. But I also imagine that some of my students never would have done their basic reading if they hadn’t been trained to complete expected assignments, which would have made the task of teaching an English class nearly impossible. As a parent, I would rather my daughter not get stuck doing the sort of pointless homework I would occasionally assign, but I also think there’s a lot of value in saying, “Hey, a lot of work you’re going to end up doing in your life is pointless, so why not just get used to it?”
I certainly am not the only person wondering about the value of homework. Recently, the sociologist Jessica McCrory Calarco and the mathematics education scholars Ilana Horn and Grace Chen published a paper, “ You Need to Be More Responsible: The Myth of Meritocracy and Teachers’ Accounts of Homework Inequalities .” They argued that while there’s some evidence that homework might help students learn, it also exacerbates inequalities and reinforces what they call the “meritocratic” narrative that says kids who do well in school do so because of “individual competence, effort and responsibility.”
The authors believe this meritocratic narrative is a myth and that homework — math homework in particular — further entrenches the myth in the minds of teachers and their students. Calarco, Horn and Chen write, “Research has highlighted inequalities in students’ homework production and linked those inequalities to differences in students’ home lives and in the support students’ families can provide.”
Put a bit more simply: The quality of students’ homework production is linked to their socioeconomic status. This alone doesn’t seem particularly controversial. As I’ve discussed in this newsletter, many measures of academic achievement wind up being linked to wealth. The authors go on to argue that since this is the case, teachers should “interpret differences in students’ homework production through a structural inequalities frame.” What they have found, however, is that teachers don’t think of homework this way. Instead, they tend to rely on the “myth of meritocracy” to explain “homework inequalities.”
Calarco, Horn and Chen are all respected scholars at top-tier universities. Their paper was published in Educational Researcher, a journal of the American Educational Research Association, one of the pre-eminent research organizations in the education space. Homework reduction, or abolition, is part of an emerging educational movement. And while the authors acknowledge that eliminating homework would be difficult in the short term, given how rooted it is in American pedagogy, I imagine that many public schools over the next decade or so will start to de-emphasize homework as these ideas start to make their way to school boards and curriculum writers.
Trying to assess the value of homework, reduce it or at least make less of it busywork might very well be a useful endeavor. But Calarco, Horn and Chen are questioning something much more fundamental to the American educational system than homework. Whether they intend to or not, they are, in effect, reframing the purpose of schooling itself. Is school a place where a select group of children can distinguish themselves from their peers through diligence, talent and the pursuit of upward mobility? Is it a place where everyone should have equal access to learning and opportunity, whatever that might mean? And are these two ideals mutually exclusive?
The authors of “You Need to Be More Responsible” are part of a movement that argues, sometimes convincingly, that a meritocratic vision impedes true equal opportunity. In regards to homework, what they are saying, in effect, is that the idea of responsibility itself — requiring students to be accountable for completing assignments — exacerbates inequality. And that rather than trying to run all students through a hierarchical educational system in the hopes that they will end up in the same place, it appears that the authors would rather de-emphasize anything that reinforces the idea that one student is better than another.
According to the authors, then, teachers should factor in students’ socioeconomic status when evaluating their homework. Teachers should acknowledge that, even with completed assignments, structural inequalities may be why students with access to fewer resources got more questions wrong than their better-resourced peers did. And if they want to help these hypothetical poor students, they shouldn’t appeal to messages of personal responsibility and individual agency because those concepts reinforce the myth of meritocracy.
This all sounds a bit abstract. Having taught at a variety of schools, I agree that students’ socioeconomic status will likely be a better predictor of how they do on their homework than any personal traits, but I still can’t quite imagine how a structural inequalities frame would operate in the classroom. How would you even talk to your students?
Teacher: Hey there. You got half the questions wrong on your homework.
Student: I’m sorry about that. What do you think I could do to improve my performance?
Teacher: Well, you could boost your socioeconomic status. Otherwise, the deck’s extremely stacked against you getting any of these questions right.
To help combat the myth of meritocracy, the authors suggest that teachers not assign overly challenging homework and stop rewarding or punishing students based on the quality of the homework they produce. They also suggest that some teachers, if so inclined, could go “a step further in attempting to reduce homework’s harm” and just get rid of it altogether. They write:
More research is needed to understand the consequences of these more “progressive” homework policies. Yet, we suspect that while optional and ungraded homework may reduce inequalities in homework-related rewards and punishments, it may not prevent teachers from judging those students (and their parents) who do not complete the optional or ungraded work. No-homework policies have greater potential for alleviating the kinds of unequal practices we observed in the schools in our study.
In short, teachers can’t even be trusted to give out optional homework because they’re too meritocracy-brained and will still judge the students based on the results. The easiest solution is to just stop giving homework altogether, so the wrong-thinking teachers don’t have as much of a platform upon which to prop up their meritocratic myths.
I want to be fair to the authors and acknowledge that even if I’m a bit skeptical about how their prescriptions could operate in a classroom, there might be other good reasons for doing away with homework.
Evidence about the effectiveness of homework is pretty scattered. There are studies and articles saying that homework helps students learn and that kids aren’t overly burdened with it. There are also studies and articles that say excessive homework shows diminishing returns and can be harmful to students’ mental health . Having read some of these studies, I think the fairest assessment right now would be to say that the evidence about the benefits of homework is pretty inconclusive because of the inherent difficulties in isolating one part of a student’s academic life and drawing huge conclusions about how it affects everything else.
From a theoretical standpoint, I mostly agree with Calarco, Horn and Chen’s diagnosis of the American educational system. It does largely function as a way to sort and stratify children into different socioeconomic bands, which, again, in theory, means that it would be helpful for teachers to approach their work with that in mind. Many richer kids go to private schools that feed into elite colleges that will more or less ensure their alumni will be on the glide path to staying rich. Many poorer kids go to poorer schools that provide them, in many cases, with fewer opportunities that might help them advance socioeconomically. Some portion of middle-class and working-class people, including a lot of immigrants and children of immigrants, pragmatically use the school system to achieve class mobility.
When you break it all down, the amount of class mobility our education system can grind out each year falls well short of what most people expect. The spoils of academic meritocracy, then, aren’t particularly widespread, which does bring up the question: If we all agree that everyone should go to school and if the class mobility part is working only for some families and not at all for others, why do we structure it in such a competitive way?
But there’s a defense of homework that doesn’t really have much to do with class mobility, equality or any sense of reinforcing the notion of meritocracy. It’s one that became quite clear to me when I was a teacher: Kids need to learn how to practice things. Homework, in many cases, is the only ritualized thing they have to do every day. Even if we could perfectly equalize opportunity in school and empower all students not to be encumbered by the weight of their socioeconomic status or ethnicity, I’m not sure what good it would do if the kids didn’t know how to do something relentlessly, over and over again, until they perfected it. Most teachers know that type of progress is very difficult to achieve inside the classroom, regardless of a student’s background, which is why, I imagine, Calarco, Horn and Chen found that most teachers weren’t thinking in a structural inequalities frame. Holistic ideas of education, in which learning is emphasized and students can explore concepts and ideas, are largely for the types of kids who don’t need to worry about class mobility.
A defense of rote practice through homework might seem revanchist at this moment, but if we truly believe that schools should teach children lessons that fall outside the meritocracy, I can’t think of one that matters more than the simple satisfaction of mastering something that you were once bad at. That takes homework and the acknowledgment that sometimes a student can get a question wrong and, with proper instruction, eventually get it right.
Jay Caspian Kang ( @jaycaspiankang ), a writer for Opinion and The New York Times Magazine, is the author of “The Loneliest Americans.”
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The End of Homework
How homework disrupts families, overburdens children, and limits learning.
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- In 1901, homework was legally banned in parts of the U.S. There are no studies showing that assigning homework before junior high school improves academic achievement.
- Increasingly, students and their parents are told that homework must take precedence over music lessons, religious education, and family and community activities. As the homework load increases (and studies show it is increasing) these family priorities are neglected.
- Homework is a great discriminator, effectively allowing students whose families “have” to surge ahead of their classmates who may have less.
- Backpacks are literally bone-crushing, sometimes weighing as much as the child. Isn’t it obvious we’re overburdening our kids?
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The end of homework? Why some schools are banning homework
Fed up with the tension over homework, some schools are opting out altogether.
No-homework policies are popping up all over, including schools in the U.S., where the shift to the Common Core curriculum is prompting educators to rethink how students spend their time.
“Homework really is a black hole,” said Etta Kralovec, an associate professor of teacher education at the University of Arizona South and co-author of “The End of Homework: How Homework Disrupts Families, Overburdens Children, and Limits Learning.”
“I think teachers are going to be increasingly interested in having total control over student learning during the class day and not relying on homework as any kind of activity that’s going to support student learning.”
College de Saint-Ambroise, an elementary school in Quebec, is the latest school to ban homework, announcing this week that it would try the new policy for a year. The decision came after officials found that it was “becoming more and more difficult” for children to devote time to all the assignments they were bringing home, Marie-Ève Desrosiers, a spokeswoman with the Jonquière School Board, told the CBC .
Kralovec called the ban on homework a movement, though she estimated just a small handful of schools in the U.S. have such policies.
Gaithersburg Elementary School in Rockville, Maryland, is one of them, eliminating the traditional concept of homework in 2012. The policy is still in place and working fine, Principal Stephanie Brant told TODAY Parents. The school simply asks that students read 30 minutes each night.
“We felt like with the shift to the Common Core curriculum, and our knowledge of how our students need to think differently… we wanted their time to be spent in meaningful ways,” Brant said.
“We’re constantly asking parents for feedback… and everyone’s really happy with it so far. But it’s really a culture shift.”
It was a decision that was best for her community, Brant said, adding that she often gets phone calls from other principals inquiring how it’s working out.
The VanDamme Academy, a private K-8 school in Aliso Viejo, California, has a similar policy , calling homework “largely pointless.”
The Buffalo Academy of Scholars, a private school in Buffalo, New York, touts that it has called “a truce in the homework battle” and promises that families can “enjoy stress-free, homework-free evenings and more quality time together at home.”
Some schools have taken yet another approach. At Ridgewood High School in Norridge, Illinois, teachers do assign homework but it doesn’t count towards a student’s final grade.
Many schools in the U.S. have toyed with the idea of opting out of homework, but end up changing nothing because it is such a contentious issue among parents, Kralovec noted.
“There’s a huge philosophical divide between parents who want their kids to be very scheduled, very driven, and very ambitiously focused at school -- those parents want their kids to do homework,” she said.
“And then there are the parents who want a more child-centered life with their kids, who want their kids to be able to explore different aspects of themselves, who think their kids should have free time.”
So what’s the right amount of time to spend on homework?
National PTA spokeswoman Heidi May pointed to the organization’s “ 10 minute rule ,” which recommends kids spend about 10 minutes on homework per night for every year they’re in school. That would mean 10 minutes for a first-grader and an hour for a child in the sixth grade.
But many parents say their kids must spend much longer on their assignments. Last year, a New York dad tried to do his eight-grader’s homework for a week and it took him at least three hours on most nights.
More than 80 percent of respondents in a TODAY.com poll complained kids have too much homework. For homework critics like Kralovec, who said research shows homework has little value at the elementary and middle school level, the issue is simple.
“Kids are at school 7 or 8 hours a day, that’s a full working day and why should they have to take work home?” she asked.
Follow A. Pawlowski on Google+ and Twitter .
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The End of Homework? Five Good Reads for Teachers and Parents
By Med Kharbach, PhD | Last Update: May 19, 2023
Homework is a topic that is hotly debated within education circles. It is also a divisive issue that divides the education community into two main camps:those who view is as a pedagogical necessity that boosts students cognitive and intellectual development and those who consider it an overload that burdens learners, demotivate them and suffocate their creativity. It’s true there is no definitive academic and scientifically-based answer to favour the argument of one camp over the other but there is, however, a growing need to re-conceptualize the notion of homework especially in the light of the digital divide and achievement gap in schools. To this end, we are sharing with you a collection of some very good titles on the subject. Because we have grown up doing homework and assigning homework to our students, we thought it would be illuminating to learn about the darker side of homework and the perennial myths surrounding it. We invite you to check out these reads and share with us your feedback. Enjoy
Please note, the links below are Amazon affiliate links enabling me to earn from your purchases.
1- The End of Homework: How Homework Disrupts Families, Overburdens Children, and Limits Learning , by Etta Kralovec (Author), John Buell (Author): ‘Etta Kralovec and John Buell are educators who dared to challenge one of the most widely accepted practices in American schools. Their provocative argument first published in this book, featured in Time and Newsweek, in numerous women’s magazines, on national radio and network television broadcasts, was the first openly to challenge the gospel of “the more homework the better.”’
2- The Homework Myth: Why Our Kids Get Too Much of a Bad Thing , by Alfie Kohn (Author) “So why do we continue to administer this modern cod liver oil-or even demand a larger dose? Kohn’s incisive analysis reveals how a set of misconceptions about learning and a misguided focus on competitiveness has left our kids with less free time, and our families with more conflict. Pointing to stories of parents who have fought back-and schools that have proved educational excellence is possible without homework-Kohn demonstrates how we can rethink what happens during and after school in order to rescue our families and our children’s love of learning.”
3- The Case Against Homework: How Homework Is Hurting Children and What Parents Can Do About It, by Sara Bennett (Author), Nancy Kalish (Author) “The truth, according to Sara Bennett and Nancy Kalish, is that there is almost no evidence that homework helps elementary school students achieve academic success and little evidence that it helps older students. Yet the nightly burden is taking a serious toll on America’s families. It robs children of the sleep, play, and exercise time they need for proper physical, emotional, and neurological development. And it is a hidden cause of the childhood obesity epidemic, creating a nation of “homework potatoes.” 4- Closing The Book On Homework: Enhancing Public Education , by John Buell (Author) “The claim that homework evokes long-term discipline [is] largely unsupported by extensive empirical work, but there is reason to believe that many other extracurricular factors in the life of a child and young adult contribute substantially to this virtue. ”
5- Rethinking Homework: Best Practices That Support Diverse Needs , by Cathy Vatterott (Author) “Rethinking Homework: Best Practices That Support Diverse Needs examines the role homework has played in the culture of schooling over the years; how such factors as family life, the media, and the “balance movement” have affected the homework controversy; and what research–and educators’ common sense–tells us about the effects of homework on student learning.” First appeared here
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