The Homework Debate – Case Against Homework

Students, parents, and teachers are not uncommon to complain about homework. Why is homework such an integral part of student life? Students’ evenings are still dominated by homework, busy work, or reading assignments.

Our students get homework, and some say a lot, whether it’s out of habit or in comparison to other countries. Teachers and policy-makers need to ask: Does assigning homework pay off or not?

Do you think homework is better for students than high school?

Scholastic’s article Does Homework Make You Feel Bad? refers to Alfie Kohn’s book Why Our Children Get Too Much of A Bad Thing in which he states, “There is no evidence that homework benefits students under high school age.”

The article continues to point out that opponents of homework tend to focus on the downsides of homework taking up significant time. One major problem is homework’s intrusion in family time. They also point out that opponents believe schools have decided homework is necessary and thus assign it simply to assign some kind of homework, not because doing the work meets specifically-identified student needs.

Students cannot learn from “busy work”.

Parents and students seem to have similar opinions about homework. They are particularly critical of assignments that involve repetitive math problems or word searches.

Nancy Kalish, author The Case Against Homework. How Homework Hurts Our Children and What We Can do About It answers the question “How homework can negatively impact children”. She says that homework is often “simple busy work” that makes learning “a chore instead of a positive, constructive experience.”

Both students and parents were able to agree with the piece’s comments. One student said that they sometimes spent more time doing homework than school. Another commenter noted that “we don’t give slow-working kids a longer school day but we consistently give them longer homework days.”

Homework is useless if it doesn’t get feedback

Policy researchers have also studied the efficacy and effectiveness of Kalish’s homework. Gerald LeTendre from Penn State’s Education Policy Studies section points out that the shotgun approach, where students receive the same assignment in photocopies and then check it as complete, is not very effective. He also says that there is no monitoring or feedback.

Researchers at the Curry School of Education at Virginia found similar results in their study ” When is Homework Worth the Time“. According to UVAToday these researchers did not report any “substantive differences” in students’ grades related to homework completion.

Adam Maltese, researcher, noted that “our results suggest that maybe homework isn’t being used as effectively as it could.” He also suggested that, while not all homework was bad, it is important to examine the quality and differentiation of assignments to different learners.

Homework should enhance understanding of the subject.

Although the Curry School of Education did report a positive correlation between standardized test performance and homework time, it is not the goal of assignments. A better understanding and ability with the content should.

It is crucial that teachers give homework assignments to students with disabilities. This is because it can be done carefully and thoughtfully.