This is what’s worrying. Homework does have an impact on young students, but it’s not a good one. A child just beginning school deserves the chance to develop a love of learning. Instead, homework at a young age causes many kids to turn against school, future homework and academic learning. And it’s a long road. A child in kindergarten is facing 13 years of homework ahead of her.

h/t to John Stavropoulos 

http://www.salon.com/2016/03/05/homework_is_wrecking_our_kids_the_research_is_clear_lets_ban_elementary_homework/

64 thoughts on “This is what’s worrying. Homework does have an impact on young students, but it’s not a good one. A child just…

  1. Homework was the biggest thing resulting in me being a middling student out of high school, despite mastering the material. It’s also the single thing that makes my son the most anxious about school.

  2. I have sworn that I will not allow Henry’s childhood to be wasted with homework. Thankfully, my wife (a teacher, no less) is totally on board. We also have both Montessori and Waldorf options near to us, which is promising.

  3. Basically, that site is kind of the left-wing equivalent of Breitbart.com. This being the left equivalent, it’s not crazy. It’s just shitty, snotty, and the kind of place I would expect to falsify information for political purposes.

  4. It looks like the Harris Cooper quote at the outset is from research he published in 1989. I found that in an interesting article that looks at the research surrounding homework:

    http://www.alfiekohn.org/article/abusing-research/

    Why Salon is writing about this right now, I dunno. I can assume it because the author of this piece has a new book coming out that she wants to pimp. (Point given to Robert Bohl for his suspicion of Salon.)

    Still, it seems like the basic conclusions here are sound. I’ve read this before, and my wife (again, a teacher) agrees.

  5. http://www.alfiekohn.org/article/abusing-research/ Why Salon is writing about this right now, I dunno. I can assume it because the author of this piece has a new book coming out that she wants to pimp. (Point given to Robert Bohl for his suspicion of Salon.) Still, it seems like the basic conclusions here are sound. I’ve read this before, and my wife (again, a teacher) agrees.]]>

  6. It makes gut sense to me, and it fits my personal experiences. Maybe too well. That’s why I decided to click through, but I’m grateful in a way for my Salon skepticism, because it’s good to have your skepticism engaged when you’re reading about something that so clearly fits for you.

  7. Cool link Mark, haven’t had a chance to read the full article but I skimmed the homework section. And good citations to follow up on. I’ll study this later.

    The homework issue is one that, like most that are probably reading this, is one that I mostly just have an intrinsic hunch on. Which of course is valueless so I like seeing these articles. For me I’m not even sure if the argument over the results of homework is the important point. I’m more concerned with it as a negative childhood foundation to the work/life balance issue that adults struggle with.

  8. At the least, anyone who grew up in the States has over a decade of experience doing homework, so we can at least speak from our experience.

    Honestly, forget homework, I found a good chunk of school in general to be a total waste.

  9. I think my public school homework was a missed opportunity for me to learn organizational and time management skills. My parents pretty much just left me to figure it out on my own, and I would just not do it, and when I ended up in college had no idea what the hell was going on or how to manage my workload. (This pretty much persisted until my first job where I dove into different time management and productivity blogs.) I’ll have to review the study, and I’m all for iconoclasm, but I suspect there’s a baby in this bathwater.

  10. not do it, and when I ended up in college had no idea what the hell was going on or how to manage my workload. (This pretty much persisted until my first job where I dove into different time management and productivity blogs.) I’ll have to review the study, and I’m all for iconoclasm, but I suspect there’s a baby in this bathwater.]]>

  11. I remember hearing about a study which discovered homework to be one of the few effective means of enhancing learning that does not require significant extra work from the teacher. This might have been from or related to studies comparing schooling practices in Finland, Germany, and some third country I don’t remember.

  12. Mark Delsing You’d have to make suggestions. I grew up with high school educated parents who worked minimum wage jobs and didn’t themselves have the skills to prepare me for academics or any kind of career where you didn’t have to ask your manager for permission to take a bathroom break.

  13. Bret Gillan To clarify, are you saying that homework itself reaches time-management, or just that it provided an opportunity for your parents to teach you time-management, should they have chosen or had the ability to do so?

    And do you feel that learning time-management skills on your own — showing initiative there! — when you got your first job was an undesirable situation? That you would have preferred to have already possessed those skills?

    Other possible venues for learning those skill that I can think of: Boy Scouts, 4-H, a church youth group, a first job, chores, etc.

  14. parents to teach you time-management, should they have chosen or had the ability to do so? And do you feel that learning time-management skills on your own — showing initiative there! — when you got your first job was an undesirable situation? That you would have preferred to have already possessed those skills? Other possible venues for learning those skill that I can think of: Boy Scouts, 4-H, a church youth group, a first job, chores, etc.]]>

  15. Homework doesn’t teach what I’m talking about, no. I’m saying it’s an opportunity to teach those things but I don’t think parents can be expected to teach them just like they can’t be expected to teach biology or chemistry.

    Yes, learning those skills that late in life was not desirable. I only made it through high school because I tested well, and then I proceeded to flunk my way through college and barely hang in there.

    Your other possible venues:

    – Boy Scouts – Costs money, requires the involvement of an adult, and has religious elements that we weren’t comfortable with. Mainly, though, my parents worked so much that I couldn’t do things that required their participation.

    – 4-H – Believe it or not we didn’t have one in my community.

    – a church youth group – I was raised in a non-religious family.

    – a first job – My first job was bagging groceries. It doesn’t translate into the skills I’m talking about.

    – chores – Bud, I did more chores than 99% of the people I know but bailing hay, digging post holes, and splitting wood doesn’t translate into the skills I’m talking about. I do know how to do a difficult job without complaining, though.

    I guess I’m imagining that if my teachers or my family had (or had been able to) place my homework in a context where I’m managing multiple projects simultaneously and figuring out how to structure my work to make it manageable, it might have been worth something to me. They gave us homework but nobody ever taught us how to do it. And it starts to make more sense when I think about how the more well-to-do kids with college educated parents always did better (though they may have also been more available to help, who knows?).

    Anyway, just thinking out loud.

  16. Bret Gillan Good stuff, sir.

    I think a lot comes down to the needs of the specific child, the nature of the work being assigned, and, absolutely, the involvement of parents or other caretakers.

    I still agree with the idea that before a certain point there’s really nothing to be gained. I mean, homework in kindergarten? What the heck is that supposed to accomplish other than stress everyone out?

    Mostly, I just believe that 7-8 hours a day, five days a week, ought to be more than enough time to teach kids necessary skills. Asking for more time to be taken up at home seems crazy to me.

  17. I meant to post way earlier that if this headline as as 100% accurate to the science and thorough and extensive as we’d like it to be, then yeah whatever ban homework for kids of whatever age range its shown to WRECK. I’m all for us, including kids, reaping the benefits of increased economic productivity as leisure time rather than just lining company pockets. To get off on a bit of a tangent I think the amount of labor we expect out of kids is in line with the amount of labor we expect out of their parents (and finding ways to keep them busy while the moms and pops of the world are busy too) and correcting that would solve this problem. But think of the children has always been an easier sell (and I don’t mean that condescendingly at all).

  18. There’s a lot of research on both sides.  The consensus in higher academia (education researchers and specialists who are furthest from actual change in classrooms) has been pretty soundly anti-homework for some time (or, more nuanced: pro-less-homework).

    When you step out of the ivory tower (and into the whitewashed shack next to it that is children’s public education), teachers, teacher educators, teacher unions, curriculum publishers, and test-prep services are usually pro-homework.

    However, it’s worth looking at the pressures and requirements that those voices are working under: teachers, teacher educators, and unions are constantly under the gun to produce proof of their students’ work and progress.  Publishers print scads and scads of workbooks and are adamant that they’re totally awesome now please spend state money on crates and crates of these workbooks.  Test-prep services are similar to both in that they have to produce “proof” that the students in their grip care are doing work, and just coincidentally they publish workbooks for the tests that they administer.

    Also note that, as more and more classroom time is consumed by standardized testing, more and more student work time gets exported to the home.

  19. furthest from actual change in classrooms) has been pretty soundly anti-homework for some time (or, more nuanced: pro-less-homework). When you step out of the ivory tower (and into the whitewashed shack next to it that is children’s public education), teachers, teacher educators, teacher unions, curriculum publishers, and test-prep services are usually pro-homework. However, it’s worth looking at the pressures and requirements that those voices are working under: teachers, teacher educators, and unions are constantly under the gun to produce proof of their students’ work and progress.  Publishers print scads and scads of workbooks and are adamant that they’re totally awesome now please spend state money on crates and crates of these workbooks.  Test-prep services are similar to both in that they have to produce “proof” that the students in their grip care are doing work, and just coincidentally they publish workbooks for the tests that they administer. Also note that, as more and more classroom time is consumed by standardized testing, more and more student work time gets exported to the home.]]>

  20. Also also, the amount of homework that we remember is dwarfed by the amount of homework that is regularly assigned to students today.  We’re talking hours each day, while those ivory tower academics I mentioned strongly recommend something more like 15 minutes a day for elementary and maybe an hour for high school.  (Which is separate from reading time, I should note.)

  21. dwarfed by the amount of homework that is regularly assigned to students today.  We’re talking hours each day, while those ivory tower academics I mentioned strongly recommend something more like 15 minutes a day for elementary and maybe an hour for high school.  (Which is separate from reading time, I should note.)]]>

  22. Yes, last year my son’s typical kindergarten homework was each weeknight:

    – 3 sentences each for 3 vocab words
    – 3 writing worksheets
    – 2 math worksheets

    He also was assigned a lesser amount over weekends and holidays.

    Homework has been studied a lot. It’s maddening as there’s basically nothing showing that it has any positive effect at all.

  23. Josh Roby Can you give some citations for the academic consensus? Preferably meta-studies, if any exist. I am finishing my teacher education (as a subject teacher) soon and have heard nothing of this, and I would like to align my teaching with the best scientific knowledge available.

    Mark Delsing That was the mostly highly cited relevant article I found quickly, not a shot fired to win a debate.

    The reason for homework being useful that I have heard is that the same material gets encountered thrice: first in class (teacher introduces, students do exercises), second  when doing homework, and third when the homework is reviewed.

    I’m quite sure there’s no homework here (I live in Finland) in kindergarten before pre-school. During pre-school there might occasionally be some, but I would be surprised if it were very common.

  24. Josh Roby I think that, unfortunately, schooling is one of those areas where there are many fingers in the pie, all with vested interests that don’t really align with the base goal of “what’s best for the child”. I see this with all of the behind-the-scenes perspectives I get from my wife — she teaches high school science. It amazes me that she manages to positively affect her students at all, as she is constantly battling administrators who don’t understand how classrooms work or what help students actually need, or fighting against abysmal textbooks forced on her by the district. “We signed a new contract; get rid of all those really good textbooks you built your lesson plans upon and use these new, inferior ones that lock you into these workbooks and test material.”

    I firmly believe in public education and supporting teachers, but I also don’t know that I want my son in the system at all, ever. If I could, I’d school him at home or unschool him, but, of course, for reasons Bret Gillan mentions above, my wife and I can’t afford not to work — even though part of the reason we work is to pay for the child care we need because we can’t afford to stay home.

    America drives me nuts, honestly.