The articles I’ve written that have really hit home for people drive the angle that we’re too touchy-feely these days. We coddle our kids instead of preparing them for a world that can be mean, tough, and unfair. However, there is one place I feel that we’re beating the hell out of them … homework.
Thank God someone agrees with me. In this Time article on MSNBC.com, “Kid’s Overworked? Join the Homework Revolution”, Nancy Kalish argues that there is no evidence to suggest that homework, especially in mass quantities is at all helpful to a child’s learning. She also shows parents how they can fight back against school systems that have gotten out of whack. This was the paragraph that validated my thoughts for the past few years:
“Homework is such an established part of education, it’s hard to believe it’s not all that beneficial, especially in large quantities. But the truth is, a recent Duke University review of numerous studies found almost no correlation between homework and long-term achievement in elementary school, and only a moderate correlation in middle school.”
In my house, many of our evenings have been destroyed by too much homework over the years. The stress that it brings for a third or fourth grader is just insane and has caused a lot of tears, broken #2 pencils, and a terrible attitude about school.
My kids get off the bus at 4:00 PM, grab a snack and before you know it you’re looking at 6 PM and loads of homework hangs over their head. It can end up replacing sports, activities, and family time. Are they studying for the bar or just trying to figure out their times tables?
I’m not against all homework, but I feel it should be something that reinforces what they did during the day, not challenge the hell out of them all over again after a long day behind a desk. Grade school should be a time of learning the basics and enjoying school, not hating it. They’ll have another seven years to bitch and complain about how much they hate school, let them enjoy this time.
Our district policy is 10 min. per grade per night, but I think that can even a bit much. Setting a specific number like that means that some kids will do less, and others will do A LOT more. And for teachers, it’s subjective — a best guess. Even so, why the hell should a kindergartner or a first grader even have homework? They should be reading — every night, but they need to also be kids. I’m a huge supporter of teachers, it’s a great and noble profession, but I just do not get this.
Another paragraph from the piece that hit home:
“Too much homework also means that kids miss out on active playtime, essential for learning social skills, proper brain development, and warding off childhood obesity”.
A kid’s life should be well rounded and about trying new things. They should be making friends, getting excited about eating pronto pups (code for corn dogs at L.P. Brown Elementary in the 70′s), and loving their teacher. I don’t see this any more. I see stressed out little people who struggle with a lot of work and really want to please their teacher.
Things have changed a ton since I was a kid. I’ll be honest, I had zero homework in grade school, a little math in middle school (my school was also recognized nationally) and just a tad in high school. I wasn’t the best student, but I sure as hell wasn’t the worst. Are we trying to make up for lost time, or have all these standardized tests freaked out administrators so much that they respond by piling on the work for kids that also need to breathe and play?
Please, tell me if I’m way off base, because I don’t feel like it.