Tuesday, September 12, 2006

The Homework Myth

Seattle paper:
According to a University of Michigan study, the amount of time our kids spend on homework has increased 51 percent during the past 25 years. Elementary school students, in particular, are carrying home a far heavier load of work than in days past. Out-of-class assignments are now regularly handed out for holidays and vacation periods as well.

Has it done any good? According to Time magazine and a pair of new books, there is plenty of evidence that suggests it has not.

A Duke University researcher has found all that extra at-home study has made no appreciable difference in the academic performance of grade school students. Too much homework, in fact, may produce lower test scores, according to several studies. In countries such as Japan and Denmark where students outperform their U.S. counterparts on achievement tests, teachers generally assign less homework.

Besides stressing out American families, all the added drudgery may well be killing kids' interest in learning.
The same may be true about some schoolwork as well. Some homework detracts from more worthwhile activities.

Update: Here is another article questioning homework:
Vigorous scrutiny of the research, they argue, fails to demonstrate tangible benefits of homework, particularly for elementary students. What it does instead, they contend, is rob children of childhood, play havoc with family life and asphyxiate their natural curiosity. Learning becomes a mind-numbing grind rather than an engaging adventure.

In an era of more rigorous academic standards and vertebrae-straining backpacks, most American schools seem to be assigning more homework in earlier grades. For two decades, experts have propelled this trend with dire warnings that students in nations such as Japan are besting Americans because they diligently do more homework.

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