The Great Homework Debate: One Teacher’s Opinion
Why there should NOT be homework (in my opinion) by Ms. Kim
This is an old pedagogy argument. Should there or should there not be homework? In my opinion, the ONLY homework that should be assigned is reading. Read. Read. Read. Reading promotes speaking, listening, reading, and writing. Reading promotes imaginative and creative thinking. Reading promotes basically everything academic. Reading is GOOD for everyone. Homework is not.
I think many people my age think homework should be given simply because it was that way when we were students, i.e. “that is the way I did it when I was in school”. As for research, well, there is little research that supports the strong and positive benefits of homework. There seems to be very little correlation between homework and standardized testing, and limited evidence that homework adds to intelligence. The question surrounding homework really becomes: Does homework produce a behavior or does it promote an understanding (Kohn, 2007)? We want our students to do more than just complete tasks. We want our students, our kids, to have a desire to learn and a quest to seek out answers for the unknown.
Some research says there is SOME benefits for high school students, a little bit for middle school, and not much at all for elementary students (Cooper, 1989; Cooper et al., 2006). What is stressed though is that there needs to be a balance between all of the students’ classes as to how much work is sent home. As a teacher, balancing between what is necessary to send home and what and how much was assigned by other teachers is a struggle. So in my classes, I do not assign homework, as I feel there is no need to add more to a student’s plate.
After reading some of Alfie Kohn’s articles, a known critic of homework, I realized that if you want to extinguish a child’s imagination and squash a student’s curiosity, then assign them homework. If you want a student to play less outside or learn from real-life experiences then give them extra assignments. If you want to invite conflict in your house, assign your kids more work when they get ‘home’ from school – right now they are having school at home, does it really benefit students to be on the computer EVEN MORE after the assigned school hours?
Homework for elementary students is a big no-no and, once again, the research is limited for the benefits for middle and high school students. If the homework is not specific and time-consuming then it is not providing any educational benefit. Quality and quantity of homework are what appear to be a determining factor of any benefits homework can provide your child.
Of course, this is my opinion, one I am sharing as I tell students all the time that I dislike homework (except for READING). And not to say I have never assigned homework, I have, but I do NOT like it. In fact, I did not like it when I was in school. Did you? Do you like coming home from work and doing more work? I do not. Why should our kids? Why should our kids engage in anything except being a kid? In fact, I would argue that the number of academic classes planned for after school could be reduced. Some students have extra math classes, extra language classes, extra whatever classes with the idea that more, more, more will make them better. I do not agree with that either, but that is another article. The bottom line, some homework MAY be beneficial for high school students, I do not like it, therefore, I try not to assign it. Everyone has their opinion, this is mine.
For further reading, here are a list of interesting articles to see the Pros and Cons of homework and ones I gathered information from are included below.
Cooper, H. (1989). Synthesis of research on homework. Educational leadership, 47(3), 85-91.
Cooper, H. (2010). Homework’s Diminishing Returns. The New York Times.
Cooper, H., Robinson, J. C., & Patall, E. A. (2006). Does homework improve academic achievement? A synthesis of research, 1987–2003. Review of Educational Research, 76(1), 1-62.