The benefit of homework

This article was written by Dorothy Suskind, a 1-st grade teacher in Richmond, and an adjunct instructor for the University of Virginia and the University of Richmond. In it she did research that consistently showed that homework has only a slight effect on student’s educational achievement. She expressed that it was a brave act for her to challenge the practice of giving homework and its benefits. If correct, she knew she had to answer questions like, “What will the parents say? How will children learn self-discipline and study skills? And,” How will my child prepare himself for tomorrow’s work force? She knew that she and other researchers had to be advocates for the children they taught and speak out at faculty meetings, meeting the teacher nights, and parent teacher conferences.

The author shared a quote from Alfie Kohn (American writer and lecturer) that suggested that homework shouldn’t be given unless on occasion when it is truly necessary and beneficial for most of the children.

To prove this, according to the author, there is a need for deep discussions about standard homework policies, effects of homework on struggling learners, how homework takes away from reading, and what content of homework is given to meet Kohn’s definition of “truly necessary”.

Then she researched what is suggested about the positive correlation between homework and achievement, global competitiveness, self-discipline, study skills, and household family dynamics. Then she researched what may benefit more than just homework. After all that research, she shared her results.

She found out that since 1981, the amount of time that children spent playing organized sports and outside activities have drastically decreased when the amount of time children spent doing homework increased (Juster, Ono, & Stafford, 2004). Therefore, this proves that homework has little or no correlation to their achievement.

She also talks about how the perceived threat of global competition seen by the United States has caused us to create laws like the No Child Left Behind Act in 2001. However, top performing nations such as Japan, Denmark, and The Czech republic assign less homework than other low performing schools, including the US. In fact, 70% of US teachers chose to grade homework and the high performing schools’ teachers agree at 6%, 14%, and 28%.

This proves, according to Suskind, that grading students on outside work causes them to limit their focus, cheat, strive for minimal goals, and have more stress at home. Then the author goes on to talk about how assignments that encourage the children to spend more time doing organized activities, spending time with family, taking apart things, and building things will enhance students to be more creative thinkers. Therefore they will become more open and comfortable to be unique and desire to learn more things.

The information I gained from reading this article was that other schools in other countries who put less emphasis on homework are some of the top performing schools. I also learned that Google executives value innovative employees, so they pay them to spend 20% of their time pursuing innovation. It was also brought to my attention that students lose out on spending time with family because they are frequently doing homework. I totally agree with the author’s position on the issue of homework not having a positive effect on student’s educational achievement.

When I was in school, homework rarely helped me memorize the material we learned in class and if I didn’t have time to complete my homework, I received bad grades that didn’t take account for my flawless in class performance. Often times I didn’t even want to do my homework because I wanted to do other things when I got home like hang out with my family. Also, if we took hours out to do the homework, and got the answers wrong, it made us feel discouraged, not challenged. I always wondered why we didn’t do more creative things such as take things apart, build things, or learn more physical activities in school. Plus I always wondered why other schools were considered better than us. What did they have that was better than what we had? More time?

Less homework? I believe the author desires for our children to get the maximum advantage of learning in all areas of life, not just from what a math book says or if you can complete piles of homework that doesn’t help you get in touch with your creative side. She truly wants the students to be great in all areas. She knows that time is very valuable and every second counts in a child’s life. That time shouldn’t be used doing non beneficial homework. This article was very informative and very insightful on how we can deliver a greater education to our children, thus making them more creative thinkers and great accomplishers.

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