When kids are younger, homework is rarely an issue—a worksheet or two, spelling lists, 20 minutes of reading. In other words, nothing too taxing. But along the way, things change. Hello, multiple assignments nightly—research reports, special projects and more. Some parents don't mind when teachers pile it on, figuring, Plenty of homework must mean my kid is really learning something, right? After all, the news media regularly inform us that American kids lag pitifully behind their global peers, so extra learning opportunities are an appealing prospect. But other moms and dads see the intrusiveness, reasoning that seven hours in the classroom should suffice academically, leaving evenings and weekends free for sports, hobbies, family time—anything besides frustration, exhaustion and near-constant arguments about getting the work done. Yet seemingly few of these furious parents challenge the status quo.
According to education expert Alfie Kohn, they should. "I spend most of my time writing and speaking about issues where it appears that solid logic and evidence point in one direction, but widespread practice heads the other way," says Kohn. "I got a whiff of such a discrepancy and devoted about one page in my book The Schools Our Children Deserve to the question of homework. A few years later, after more evidence had accumulated that showed no benefit to it, I decided the topic deserved a book of its own." The Homework Myth (Da Capo Press), first published in 2006, challenges conventional wisdom in making its case against after-hours assignments. Read Kohn's take below, then join the conversation at familycircle.com/homework.
The Case Against Homework
By Alfie Kohn
After spending all day in school, our children are forced to begin a second shift, with more academic assignments to be completed at home. This arrangement is rather odd when you stop to think about it, as is the fact that few of us ever do stop to think about it.
Instead of assuming that homework should be a given, or that it allegedly benefits children, I've spent the last few years reviewing the available research and talking to parents, teachers and students. My findings can be summarized in seven words: Homework is all pain and no gain.
The pain is obvious to kids but isn't always taken seriously by adults. Backpacks stuffed with assignments leave students exhausted, frustrated, less interested in intellectual pursuits and lacking time to do things they enjoy. "Most of what homework is doing," says literacy expert Harvey Daniels, "is driving kids away from learning."
We parents, meanwhile, turn into nags. After being away from our children all day, the first words out of our mouths, sadly, may be: "So, did you finish your homework?" One mother told me it permanently damaged her relationship with her son because it forced her to be an enforcer rather than a mom.
The surprising news, though, is that there are virtually no pros to balance the cons. Even if you regard grades or test scores as good measures of learning, which I do not, doing homework has no statistical relationship to achievement in elementary school. In high school, some studies do find a correlation between homework and test scores, but it's usually fairly small. And in any case, it's far from clear that the former causes the latter. And if you're wondering, not a single study has ever supported the folk wisdom that homework teaches good work habits or develops positive character traits such as self-discipline, responsibility or independence.
Some teachers know all this but feel compelled to keep assigning homework for tradition's sake, or because of pressure from administrators or, ironically, parents. Adults also may assume that kids will waste their time (read: do things grown-ups don't regard as sufficiently constructive) unless they're made to do schoolwork at home.
Still others believe—incorrectly—that more time spent on a task produces better results, or that because practice is required to be a good athlete or musician, it's also at the heart of intellectual growth. It isn't. You can't "reinforce" understanding the way you can reinforce a behavior. In my experience, people with the least sophisticated understanding of how children learn, or the least amount of concern about children's attitudes toward learning, tend to be the most enthusiastic supporters of homework.
We might forgive the infringement on family time if homework were assigned only when there was good reason to think that this particular task would benefit these particular students, that it will help them think more deeply about questions that matter and create more excitement about learning (and that it can't be done at school). But what educators are more likely to say is, in effect, "Your children will have to do something every night. Later on we'll figure out what to make them do." If there's a persuasive defense of that approach, I've never heard it.
Not only should there be much less homework assigned, there ought to be none at all of the worst types, such as filling out worksheets or cramming forgettable facts into short-term memory. I believe "no homework" should be the default arrangement. In other words, weeknight (let alone weekend or vacation) assignments should have to be justified on a case-by-case basis. Because most homework can't be justified, some teachers, and even some whole schools, have stopped assigning it altogether, with fabulous results.
We parents need to reach out to others in our communities to debunk uninformed assumptions ("homework is academically beneficial"), to challenge silly claims ("homework is needed to provide a link between school and family"), and to help restore sanity and joy to our children's lives. We should respectfully but pointedly inform educators that the status quo isn't supported by good research or basic values, and those values include a commitment to let kids be kids and provide them with time to grow socially, physically, emotionally and artistically—not just academically.
What topics would you most want to SPEAK UP about? Send ideas to email@example.com.
Originally published in the October 2012 issue of Family Circle magazine.
Kids should have summer homework!
Kids should have summer homework because they will probably forget a lot of what they've been taught and have to have review for a quarter of the year! Some people may think that you will be stuck inside the house for hours, but you could just do it in about five minutes no problem!
It's pretty essential
How are children supposed to remember everything that has been taught without regular refreshers throughout the holidays? Most notably in the younger years, skills which have been labouriously learned can be lost and the beginning month of the new year must then be spent re-teaching these basic abilities. Time wasted where new things could be learnt.
Students Should Have Summer Homework
Yes, students should be given summer homework. Too often, students forget much of the material that was taught during the school year over the long summer break. This is a disservice to the students. Summer homework can help alleviate this problem. Thus, students should be given summer homework for their benefit.
Summer Work is important
Without summer homework, students will not retain what they learn during the school year. I am in high school and I have a lot of summer homework, but I still find time to relax, I am taking all honors courses and one AP course, but I do not complain. Do not be lazy!
Made by bhavana rathi
Students Forget Valuable Information Over the Summer.When students are no longer in school for two months or so, they are no longer learning new information or being challenged to discover new things and learn what they ought to learn to maintain a healthy skillset and a well working intelligence. Summer homework helps students work on their own terms and pushes them to get things done with an approaching deadline, and helps them retain the important information they may otherwise forget a few short weeks after they have been released from school. I, for example, am going to be enrolling in an Advanced Literature course next year and have been assigned two books to read this summer, an essay to write, and several passes from the Bible to cover. This pushes me to find out more information about the subject matter that will be in the course, and also helps me remember some of what I learned in my last classes to make sure I don't forget what is very vital.
Posted by: Shadowhunter
Homework makes sure the material they learn is reinforced
Over the summer, many students tend to forget what they have learned the previous year. They spend their summers on the computer doing useless things or wasting their time away. Not many students spend their summer studying or learning new things. A bit of homework (but not a crazy amount) would be good for students to reinforce everything they have learned, prepare them for the year ahead, and make sure their brains don't turn to mush.
Homework prepares them for next year at school.
Children should not do to much work, but after missing so much work you would forget your skills, and what you learnt. It makes children lazier when they return to school. Doing a certain amount of work every few days would work very well. Children are reluctant when they return to school.
Most Necessary Thing in Summer
Summer holiday homework provide a way to be connected to studies during the long time period. Students generally don't like to study during the holidays, and don't even sit to study. If this continues to happen, then the student will forget his past studies. And this should not happen. So the homework helps the students to be connected to his studies, beside enjoying his holidays.
It limits loss of intelligence.
The question is worthy of a debate due to the current thoughts on this subject in academia. At present it is thought that any period of time, no matter the age, produces an incremental decrease over the time not spent being educated. The significance of this can be seen in the senior citizen homes. The workshops and writing shops are put into to place to dissuade cognitive atrophy, the same program can be applied at a younger age. Hence, the summer reading and essays.
Students Forget Valuable Information Over the Summer.
When students are no longer in school for two months or so, they are no longer learning new information or being challenged to discover new things and learn what they ought to learn to maintain a healthy skillset and a well working intelligence. Summer homework helps students work on their own terms and pushes them to get things done with an approaching deadline, and helps them retain the important information they may otherwise forget a few short weeks after they have been released from school. I, for example, am going to be enrolling in an Advanced Literature course next year and have been assigned two books to read this summer, an essay to write, and several passes from the Bible to cover. This pushes me to find out more information about the subject matter that will be in the course, and also helps me remember some of what I learned in my last classes to make sure I don't forget what is very vital.