Homework: An Unnecessary Evil

StressedSchoolBoyThis is a somewhat ranting response to my friend, Erika’s, recent post. There is a book, The Homework Myth: Why Our Kids Get Too Much of a Bad Thing, that shares the research showing the clear ineffectiveness of homework.

I have a pretty decent memory. When I was in 4th grade, I don’t remember having more than about a half-hour’s worth of homework. It was intended as a little bit of reinforcement rather than a pummeling of busywork. I didn’t get burned out until high school (though junior high had it’s own problems and was possibly worse for me).

Kids are burned out in first grade, typical kids, and it is much worse for children who don’t have conventional learning styles, as is the sad case with my friend Erika’s son. Yet there are parents who actually want the schools to give lots of homework; led to believe lots of extra work makes for smarter kids.

Looking at the current schedule of many children, they aren’t given much time for free play. After school, there is soccer (which is, to be fair, a physical activity and beneficial for kids) and violin lessons and dance class or some other school function. After that, there is dinner, healthy or not, depending how much time can be budgeted for cooking and eating. After that there is homework. Forget about there being a break on the weekends. There are more scheduled activities sprinkled among the schoolwork required for Monday morning. Then the whole cycles starts all over again.

In addition to the aforementioned book, I would recommend viewing the film, Race to Nowhere. It’s about schools turning kids into basket cases with the carrot of a college education held in front of their noses. Many kids in high school are spending hours and hours a night doing homework in order to be competitive, believing that is the only way they will get into college. They are overworked and sleep-deprived. Further, the situation is producing adults that are limited in their ability to be creative. But, hey, at least they’re really good at taking tests! In case you’re interested, click here if you would like to download a pdf of Race to Nowhere’s healthy homework guidelines.

(Image provided by David Castillo Dominici and FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

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