“The preponderance of research clearly shows that homework for elementary students does not make a difference in student achievement. It is hard to believe that a strategy used so extensively has no foundation,” principal David Ackerman of Oak Knoll Elementary in Menlo Park wrote in a letter to parents this autumn as he put the brakes on homework.
Two new books read like manifestos against what authors consider an avalanche of unproductive take-home assignments. Their titles lay their beliefs on the line: the research critique “The Homework Myth: Why Our Kids Get Too Much of a Bad Thing” by Alfie Kohn, and the more anecdotal “The Case Against Homework: How Homework is Hurting Our Children and What We Can Do About It” by Sara Bennett and Nancy Kalish.
At the same time, an international comparison by two Penn State professors has concluded that junior high students who scored highest in math tended to come from countries where teachers assign relatively little homework — including Denmark, the Czech Republic and (take note) Japan. Conversely, the lowest-scoring students came from countries where teachers assign tons of homework, such as Iran, Thailand and Greece.
“It almost seems as though the more homework a nation’s teachers assign, the worse the nation’s students do,” concluded researchers Gerald LeTendre and David Baker, who found Americans in the mid-range in the amount of homework assigned and in achievement.
Someone finally had to say it.
With 6 hours of classtime per day for 180 days per year for 12 years, we cannot teach our children what they need to know? We need higher expectations for our teachers — not more busy work for our students.
Perhaps canceling classes on what and who to have sex with may be a start at freeing up time for learning things that actually matter — like skateboarding and building tree forts?