Is Homework Bad?
Is homework being overassigned in the primary grades? More and more education experts are saying yes. Two new books on the subject are out now, including the latest endeavor by education expert Alfie Kohn. Instructor magazine recently ran an excerpt from the highly anticipated book. "There is no evidence to demonstrate that homework benefits students below high school age," Kohn argues in the book. "Even if you regard standardized test results as a useful measure (which I don't), more homework isn't correlated with higher scores for children in elementary school."
Even at the high school level, Kohn says, the benefits of homework are debatable. "Some studies do find a relationship between homework and test scores," Kohn says, "but it tends to be small. More important, there's no reason to think that higher achievement is caused by the homework."
Opponents of excessive homework argue that it forces parents to sacrifice already scarce family time for the sake of completing assignments, not because they are necessary for students to grasp concepts but because the schools have decided in advance that children must do something for each subject every night whether it's necessary or not.
So as you welcome students and parents back to school this year, do your own homework. Take a look at the new homework books out there and be prepared for those who have read them too. The Homework Myth: Why Our Kids Get Too Much of a Bad Thing by Alfie Kohn, and The Case Against Homework: How Homework Is Hurting Our Children and What We Can Do About It by Sara Bennett and Nancy Kalisha, are both available now.