Homework Hurts

A 2004 national survey, conducted by the University of Michigan, of 2,900 American children, showed that, since 1981, the amount of time spent on homework is up 51%. Most of that increase indicates larger loads for elementary school students. Duke University’s Harris Cooper, the nation’s top homework scholar, concluded that “the research base showed no correlation between academic achievement and homework – besides reading – in elementary school, a small benefit in middle school, and more for high school.” Standardized test scores for kids who do some homework in middle and high school score somewhat better. Although, lower scores are associated with students who do more than 60 to 90 minutes of homework a night in middle school and more than 2 hours in high school.

Some educators argue that homework builds study habits, self-discipline, and time-management skills, but homework threatens kids’ attitudes toward school. “It’s one thing to say we are wasting kids’ time and straining parent-kid relationships,” Alfie Kohn, an educator and author of “The Homework Myth,” said, “but what’s unforgivable is if homework is damaging our kids’ interest in learning, undermining their curiosity.” With no correlation between homework and academic achievement, let students do more work at school and save the rest of the day for kid stuff, extracurricular activities, and family time. A new homework policy, such as Cooper’s rule of thumb: 10 minutes a night per grade level, should be adapted. No homework over vacations, no more than two major tests a week, fewer weekend assignments, and no Monday tests should be rules enforced in all schools.

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Much less homework should be assigned to prevent oppressing families and making kids hate learning.