Homework Debate: Pros and Cons
Sarah is a contributing author to the AES blog. She is committed to helping instructors and students succeed both in and out of the classroom.
My kids returned to school just last week. I expect that this week, the homework will begin. I'm dreading it. Between our two kids' extracurricular activities and our professions, my husband and I seriously struggle to do anything else with our kids BUT homework. So as I unanxiously wait for the homework to start rolling in, I thought I'd take a closer look at what homework is, why it's necessary (or not), and how effective it is. What I found? Homework debate: pros, cons,...and I still don't like it!
Homework Debate: Cons
I thought this was an interesting way to start. This statement is from an Education.com article "The Homework Debate":
'“Homework is all pain and no gain,” says author Alfie Kohn. In his book The Homework Myth, Kohn points out that no study has ever found a correlation between homework and academic achievement in elementary school, and there is little reason to believe that homework is necessary in high school. In fact, it may even diminish interest in learning, says Kohn.'
I also found this statement by Nancy Kalish, author of "The Case Against Homework: How Homework Is Hurting Our Children and What We Can Do About It" in Jay Mattews' column in the Washington Post was also very provoking:
"Another disturbing fact...is how little training teachers get when it comes to homework. Only one teacher in hundreds that we surveyed said she had ever taken a class specifically on homework. If you look into this, as we did, you'll find that most teacher training programs, even at top universities such as Harvard, don't include such courses."
The realm of education seems to be one that is concerned with making sure that teachers are constantly learning about new theories and techniques. So, the fact that so few educators are taught about homework really surprised me.
I read many, many articles and statements about how homework exhausts kids and has little educational value. Over and over again I came across these arguments.
Homework Debate: Pros
Okay, so where is the argument in favor of homework? Honestly, I struggled to find it. Really struggled. But this is the gist of what I found...
Homework keeps kids from watching too much TV.
Homework increases school performance on standardized testing.
Jay Matthews, in another Washington Post article, "The Weak Case Against Homework" argues that he remembers "what class was like on days when I had not done my homework. I remember what it was like on days when I had. The latter was a much more engaging and useful educational experience than the former."
That was seriously underwhelming. So...
I still don't like it
I was very disappointed in what I found as I read more and more about the topic of homework. I was hoping to find some inspiration or enthusiasm for homework. But I still don't like it. And, I do have some frame of reference, after all I was a student for many years myself. Granted, I can honestly say that not all homework is bad. But there is a lot of it, period. And a lot of it that in my opinion is frustrating for parents, and most importantly frustrating for students.
What would I like to see? Meaningful homework. I'm guessing that most teachers already feel that their homework is meaningful. But according to what I've read, we really don't know as teachers aren't necessarily taught about homework and what is effective and what isn't.
Homework that doesn't intimidate my kids or me. If my kids get homework, I want it to be something that they can reasonably achieve on their own and be successful. I want to see quality homework rather than quantity. My dream would be for teachers to work together so they could get a picture of what a kid's homework would look like when all their assignments are put together.
I know, I know...but it's my dream.
I'm looking forward to some comments that will help show people like me the value and need for homework. Help me!