Monday, October 17, 2016

Goodbye to homework

There is a growing number of schools, especially in the elementary grades, that are eliminating homework. For instance, from VT to Texas to NY, schools are finding better ways to reinforce lessons without depending on homework.

Frankly, as a parent who had many miserable nights coaxing her kids to complete their homework, I'm glad this issue is being scrutinized. When my kids were in elementary school, I found that most of their nightly assignments were busy work, to the point of being ridiculous. Once the girls reached 4th/5th grade, they did have a few homework assignments, usually involving research and writing skills, that felt worthwhile. But the routine stuff? We would sometimes allow them to skip it, and I would write notes the next day letting the teachers know. It's my belief that:

  • Sleep is more important than that last little problem.
  • Choice promotes more love of learning than drudgery.

By the time my girls were in high school, we were homeschooling them. They completed their *total* schoolwork in four hours or less each day. Both did well on standardized tests. Both have been successful at the college level and beyond. (Granted, they didn't attend top-tier/Ivy-League type universities. Nor did we want them to.)

I hope we can continue to research and debate the effectiveness of homework. Perhaps there are kids who do benefit. Their specific demographics need to be identified to ensure the amount and kind of homework that will serve them best. But not all students should be forced into the misery of homework when there really isn't much data to support how well it works--and possibly suggests that it can have a detrimental effect on the creativity and agile thinking that America needs from the next generation.

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