I’ve never liked homework. I’m not sure anyone likes homework exactly, but I was more averse to it than most. A lot of the time, that meant that I simply didn’t do my homework. I discovered that if I aced all the tests, my grades would be OK even with a bunch of zeros on homework.
Now that I’m a parent, I like homework even less. And there’s so much more of it now than there used to be. I was appalled when my daughter was in first grade and got homework assignments. She is in fourth grade now. The NEA recommends 10 minutes of homework per grade. So, that would be forty minutes of homework a night for my daughter. She gets way more than that. There are two timed activities that add up to thirty-five minutes alone.
But, even if she only got forty minutes a night, it would be way too much. There have been tons of studies done on homework, and the results are inconclusive at best. Some do show mild benefits from homework, while others show it actively harms the kids. My best guess is that every kid is different and some handle homework better than others. It’s not a one size fits all activity. That’s not how schools function, though. They can’t treat students differently, no matter how different those students are.
What is the point of homework anyway? The cynical part of me thinks it’s just another way for schools to have something measurable. The more generous part of me acknowledges that it gives kids extra practice, and practice can be good for them. But, as I said before, not everyone needs the same amount of practice. And practice certainly shouldn’t be graded. If you’re afraid to mess up in practice, you’re not practicing effectively.
The real thing that bothers me so much about homework is the pressure and stress it causes. It is one of the major things that turns learning into a chore. Learning something new should be one of the most joyful, fun experiences we can have. A couple of years into grade school and the enthusiasm disappears. Schools should be finding ways to increase enthusiasm, instead they extinguish it.
I say down with homework. I’m pretty sure kids would learn better if they enjoyed it. Let’s give that a shot.