Homework, Homework, Give Me A Break

Over at the excellent blog Boing Boing, Cory talks about the problem with homework for your kids today.

Kindergarten kids are assigned homework. Kids get homework over the weekend. Over vacations. When they’re away sick for a day.

What’s more, all the credible research on homework suggests that for younger kids, homework has no connection with positive learning outcomes, and for older kids, the benefits of homework level off sharply after the first couple assignments.

Not that most teachers would know this — homework theory and design isn’t on the curriculum at most teachers’ colleges, and most teachers surveyed report that they have never received any training on designing and assessing homework.

Now, I don’t have a problem with homework, since I did more than my share of it. I suspect, though, like all things that are presumably good for you, too much homework is a bad thing. Let’s see what the article says here.

One thing the authors keep coming back to is the way that excessive homework eats into kids’ playtime and family time, stressing them out, contributing to sedentary obesity, and depriving them of a childhood’s measure of doing nothing, daydreaming and thinking. They quote ten-year-olds like Sophia from Brooklyn, saying things like “I have to rush, rush, rush, rush, rush, rush through my day, actually through my seven days, and that’s seven days wasted in my life.”

Uh oh. You’re not supposed to learn that you’re not working for yourself but for The Man much, much later in life – let’s say the twenties. Kids aren’t supposed to get stressed out like that; they are supposed to be kids.

Alright, parents of all persuasions: PAY ATTENTION TO WHAT YOUR KIDS ARE DOING AT SCHOOL. I can’t stress this enough. The times of you taking education, health, food, anything that’s going to affect your child’s external or internal environment for granted are a long, lamented relic of a bygone era. You have to be proactive.

You can start on this by reading the article mentioned in this post.

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