Homework. You know what I’m talking about. It’s one of those things, gotta do it. Practice makes perfect, right?
Try thinking twice about homework, maybe it’s not alright.
The first public school in the North American colonies—the Boston Latin School—assigned homework to its students because the Puritans were sure that “practice makes perfect.”
In the middle of the 19th century, there was some sentiment that homework wasn’t entirely healthy for kids. In 1900, the Ladies’ Home Journal and pediatricians across the country started a movement to cut back on homework in favor of exercise and outdoor play. That didn’t last long.
The Sputnik scare and the Reagan administrations’ A Nation At Risk report cranked up the pressure for more homework to boost scholastic test scores.
Students today are doing about 50 percent more homework than their counterparts in the 1980s.
Of course some after school book work can be beneficial to students, but the modern pile of homework also contributes to student stress and lost playtime and lost sleep.
The trouble is that there’s no rigorous evidence that a lot of homework does a lot of good.
Here’s an excerpt from a new book on what ails our public schools:
“…excessive homework does more harm than good…Scientific research demonstrates that in many cases, homework does nothing to improve students’ academic performance…In 2006, Duke University’s Harris Cooper surveyed fifteen years’ worth of homework studies conducted across the country. The conclusion: homework was found to have little to no benefit before high school and diminishing returns for high school students as the hours spent doing it increased.”
Some homework helps some students. Parents and teachers should start believing that.
Vicki Abeles, Beyond Measure, New York: Simon & Schuster, 2015, 69-74.
Copyright © Richard Carl Subber 2016 All rights reserved.