I come to you in defense of homework. It seems homework has gotten a bad reputation, and some believe it should be banned from elementary school. I beg to differ.
The Today Parents website posted an article by Heather Shumaker entitled ‘Here’s why I said no to homework for my elementary-aged kids.’ Ms. Shumaker makes a persuasive argument. She noted a review conducted by Dr. Harris Cooper, a psychologist and neuroscientist at Duke University. Dr. Cooper reviewed 180 research studies and found that homework has no evidence of academic benefit for elementary school students.
This seems overwhelming. However, not all homework is created equal. There are many instances when homework is mere busy work with no clear educational goal or purpose. Often times, school administration and parents look askance at teachers who do not give homework. After all, teachers are constantly reminded about ‘rigor.’ The question goes – How could a teacher be challenging his/her students to reach their full potential if he or she does not give homework?
So, if teachers could give homework as they see fit without fear of administration and parents, the amount and frequency of homework would lessen. However, the homework that remains would have an educational benefit. I’m confident future studies will confirm this.
Ms. Shumaker also argues that her 6-year-old needed to time to play after school and simply be a kid. Point taken – childhood should be a fun time full of all kinds of growth.
Some of this need used to be filled in school. Remember when schools had recess? Today, there is less time for recess, and some schools have canceled it all together.
What has caused this dubious decision? I believe a contributing factor is the mass amount of standardized testing. Preparing students for tests is an addition to the already growing list of learning requirements. The added workload leaves teachers scrambling to find time to get to all the requirements. Besides the time crunch created by excessive testing, teachers and administrators are under intense pressure to raise test scores. Using my own children as a sample study, excessive testing also causes stress on the students.
Due to the time crunch, teachers may simply need to assign homework in order to ensure their students keep up with the curriculum. Sadly, this is a double whammy when it comes to kids being kids: it has forced some schools to cancel or reduce recess and made homework even more necessary.
Ms. Shumaker also says that homework delays development of responsibility, and it’s a theft of time. I beg to differ.
Homework can help a child learn about responsibility. A child, with the help of his/her parent, can learn how to manage his/her time. They want to go out and play or watch their favorite youtube video or go to soccer practice. All fine and good. However, homework needs to be taken care of as well. Together with a parent, the child can decide when each activity will get done. Of course there will be bumps along the way and maybe even a tantrum or two, but that is part of the learning process.
I believe that teachers have a right to give a reasonable amount of homework that serves an educational purpose. The amount of homework might have to grow due to the ever rising learning requirements and excessive standardized testing.
Ultimately, if we as a society want to be rid of homework, then we must re-evaluate other choices we have made.