Rethinking homework

Daily homework is the rule in most schools.

Rethinking homework

This is a rather curious fact when you stop to think about it, but not as curious as the fact that few people ever stop to think about it. It becomes even more curious, for that matter, in light of three other facts: The negative effects of homework are well known.

Many parents lament the impact of homework on Rethinking homework relationship with their children; they may also resent having to play the role of enforcer and worry that they will be criticized either for not being involved enough with the homework or for becoming too involved.

The positive effects of homework are largely mythical. The results are nothing short of stunning. For starters, there is absolutely no evidence of any academic benefit from assigning homework in elementary or middle school.

At the high school level, the correlation is weak and tends to disappear when more sophisticated statistical measures are applied. Meanwhile, no study has ever substantiated the belief that homework builds character or teaches good study habits.

More homework is being piled on children despite the absence of its value. Rather, the point of departure seems to be: And teachers who have long harbored doubts about the value of homework feel pressured by those parents who mistakenly believe that a lack of afterschool assignments reflects an insufficient commitment to academic achievement.

Such parents seem to reason that as long as their kids have lots of stuff to do every night, never mind what it is, then learning must be taking place. They need principals who question the slogans that pass for arguments: Most children dread homework, or at best see it as something to be gotten through.

Whatever decisions are made should be based on fact rather than folk wisdom. Such policies sacrifice thoughtful instruction in order to achieve predictability, and they manage to do a disservice not only to students but, when imposed from above, to teachers as well.

Many parents are understandably upset with how much time their children have to spend on homework.

Rethinking homework

Quantity, however, is not the only issue that needs to be addressed. Too many first graders are forced to clip words from magazines that begin with a given letter of the alphabet.

Too many fifth graders have to color in an endless list of factor pairs on graph paper.

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Too many eighth graders spend their evenings inching their way through dull, overstuffed, committee-written textbooks, one chapter at a time. Teachers should be invited to reflect on whether any given example of homework will help students think deeply about questions that matter.

What philosophy of teaching, what theory of learning, lies behind each assignment? Does it seem to assume that children are meaning makers — or empty vessels? Is it about wrestling with ideas or mindlessly following directions?

Find out what students think of homework and solicit their suggestions — perhaps by distributing anonymous questionnaires.

Many adults simply assume that homework is useful for promoting learning without even inquiring into the experience of the learners themselves!

Rethinking homework

Do students find that homework really is useful? Why or why not?

Are certain kinds better than others? What are its other effects on their lives, and on their families? Suggest that teachers assign only what they design. On those days when homework really seems necessary, teachers should create several assignments fitted to different interests and capabilities.

Use homework as an opportunity to involve students in decision-making. The best teachers know that children learn how to make good decisions by making decisions, not by following directions. What is true of education in general is true of homework in particular. And that growth occurs precisely because the teacher asked rather than told.Hinchey, Patricia.

“Rethinking Homework.” MASCD [Missouri Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development] Fall Journal, December Kohn, Alfie.

The Homework Myth: Why Our Kids Get Too Much of a Bad Thing (Cambridge, MA: Da Capo Press, ). Kralovec, Etta, and John Buell. In working towards a gentle balance with assigning homework, rethinking WHAT is assigned is critical.

Students' class grades should show some correlation with achievement test scores, so it is feasible to expect homework to be standards mastery aligned if it is going to count in grades.

Sep 09,  · Rethinking Homework is just that - a research based, analytical look at the effectiveness of homework, and solutions for working with parents and students on reasonable homework policies and procedures that will both encourage and improve students success/5.

Rethinking Homework: Best Practices That Support Diverse Needs examines the role homework has played in the culture of schooling over the years; how such factors as family life, the media, and the "balance movement" have affected the homework controversy; and what research—and educators' common sense—tells us about the 4/4(1).

Subscribe to ASCD Express, our free e-mail newsletter, to have practical, actionable strategies and information delivered to your e-mail inbox twice a month. Rethinking Homework: Best Practices That Support Diverse Needs examines the role homework has played in the culture of schooling over the years; how such factors as family life, the media, and the "balance movement" have affected the homework controversy; and what research—and educators' common sense—tells us about the effects of homework on student learning.4/5(1).

Rethinking Homework | Scholastic