If you've been keeping up with the latest educational trends, you might have noticed that schools across the United States and Canada have increasingly begun banning homework. Why are educators engaging in this seemingly ''unorthodox'' practice? We've listed the pros and cons of homework bans below for your consideration.
Unfortunately, as highly debated as homework is, there has been little conclusive or scientific research indicating its effectiveness. One of the few studies to address this question was conducted in 2006 and was, in fact, a meta-analysis of previous experiments. The analysis identified some correlation between homework and achievement, which was stronger for 7th graders and up than for students below the 6th grade. However, it also acknowledged design flaws in all of the experiments it analyzed and recommended further research on the topic. Note that the correlation it did find was not equivalent to causation.
Surveys about homework tend to point to one specific issue: stress. One Canadian survey (2009) found that 23% of elementary school teachers and 45% of high school teachers saw signs of homework-related stress in their students. Another survey, conducted by the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD), of at-risk high school students found that the inability to complete homework was often cited as a factor in the decision to drop out of school. But you don't need studies to tell you what you can see for yourself, whether you're a student, educator, or parent: hours of homework every day on top of a full school schedule and extracurricular activities is a lot to manage, causing some students to experience stress.
A common argument made by schools that enact homework bans is that they want to give their students the opportunity to spend more of their free time with their families. And research does suggest that homework disrupts family life. According to a 1998 survey (as you can see, this debate has been going on for a long time), nearly 50% of parents reported having serious arguments with their children over homework, and 34% reported homework as a source of struggle in the home. Researchers Etta Kralovec and John Buell were particularly concerned that homework time takes away opportunities for parents to impart their own cultural beliefs and skills to their children.
Proponents of keeping homework in schools say that the practice is about more than just reviewing academic content; it also teaches certain important life skills. It takes discipline and responsibility to complete one's homework on time rather than giving into the many distractions available to today's children. And students working on homework by themselves are practicing independent learning, working out problems on their own. The argument proposes that these skills will be invaluable in a student's future educational and occupational endeavors.
One of the top three self-reported reasons teachers have given for assigning homework is ''to show parents what's being learned in school.'' Parents who want to be involved in their children's education have the opportunity to inquire about their homework and review their assignments in order to get a sense not only of what topics are being taught but also of their children's grasp of the topics. Harris Cooper, a Duke University professor and proponent of homework, gives anecdotal evidence of parents realizing their children had learning disabilities only when ''homework revealed it to them.''
One of the primary purposes of homework for a teacher is to help assess a student's grasp of the material he or she is learning. While one might argue that in-class assignments and exams can also achieve the same purpose, tests require at-home preparation and create perhaps even more anxiety and stress than homework might. To that end, homework can be a less-pressured way for teachers to assess student progress in a less-demanding context.
Ultimately, the decision about whether or not to attempt a homework ban, or simply to minimize homework quantity, lies with each individual district and educator. The most important thing is to consider all of the factors at hand, such as the ones outlined above. No matter your stance on homework, most likely we can all agree that some more conclusive research on the topic would be helpful. As of now, in the absence of compelling scientific evidence, the issue seems to be mostly a matter of opinion.
Many people believe that one of the positive effects of homework is that it encourages the discipline of practice. While it may be time consuming and boring compared to other activities, repetition is needed to get better at skills. Homework helps make concepts more clear, and gives students more opportunities when starting their career.
Homework is much more than just completing the assigned tasks. Homework can develop time management skills, forcing students to plan their time and make sure that all of their homework assignments are done on time. By learning to manage their time, students also practice their problem-solving skills and independent thinking. One of the positive effects of homework is that it forces decision making and compromises to be made.
Children are already sitting long hours in the classroom, and homework assignments only add to these hours. Sedentary lifestyles can be dangerous and can cause health problems such as obesity. Homework takes away from time that could be spent investing in physical activity.
While many people that think homes are a beneficial environment for children to learn, not all homes provide a healthy environment, and there may be very little investment from parents. Some parents do not provide any kind of support or homework help, and even if they would like to, due to personal barriers, they sometimes cannot. Homework can create friction between children and their parents, which is one of the reasons why homework is bad.
School is already a full-time job for students, as they generally spend over 6 hours each day in class. Students also often have extracurricular activities such as sports, music, or art that are just as important as their traditional courses. Adding on extra hours to all of these demands is a lot for children to manage, and prevents students from having extra time to themselves for a variety of creative endeavors. Homework prevents self discovery and having the time to learn new skills outside of the school system. This is one of the main disadvantages of homework.
The positive effects of homework have not been backed up enough. While homework may help some students improve in specific subjects, if they have outside help there is no real proof that homework makes for improvements.
The general agreement is that students should not be given more than 10 minutes a day per grade level. What this means is that a first grader should be given a maximum of 10 minutes of homework, while a second grader receives 20 minutes, etc. Many students are given a lot more homework than the recommended amount, however.
On average, college students spend as much as 3 hours per night on homework. By giving too much homework, it can increase stress levels and lead to burn out. This in turn provides an opposite effect when it comes to academic success.
1. Homework creates a longer day for students than what parents work.There are times when parents need to bring work home with them after a long day of productivity, but this time is usually part of a compensation package. Students do not receive the same luxury. After spending 6-8 hours at school, there might be two more hours of homework to complete before getting through all of the assignments that are due. That means some kids are putting in a longer working day than their parents. This disadvantage means there are fewer moments for going outside, spending time with friends, or pursuing a hobby.
4. Banning homework would give families more time to spend together.One in three American households with children say that the homework assignments that teachers give are the primary source of stress in their home. When kids must complete their work by a specific deadline, then there is less time for families to do activities together. Instead of scheduling their time around their free hours, they must balance homework requirements in their plans. There are even fewer moments for parents to be involved in the learning process because of the specific instructions that students must follow to stay in compliance with the assignment.
5. Student health is adversely impacted by too many homework assignments.Kids of any age struggle academically when they do not have opportunities to finish their homework by a specific deadline. It is not unusual for school administrators and some teachers to judge children based on their ability to turn work in on time. If a child has a robust work ethic and still cannot complete the work, the negative approach that they might encounter in the classroom could cause them to abandon their learning goals.
6. Banning homework would help students get more sleep.Teens need up to 10 hours of sleep each night to maximize their productivity. Students in grade school can need up to 12 hours nightly as well. When homework assignments are necessary and time consuming, then this issue can eat into the amount of rest that kids get each night. Every assignment given to a K-12 student increases their risks of losing at least one hour of sleep per night. This issue can eventually lead to sleep deficits that can create chronic learning issues. It may even lead to problems with emotional control, obesity, and attention problems. Banning homework would remove the issue entirely.
8. Banning homework would provide more time for peer socialization.Students who are only spending time in school before going home to do homework for the rest of the evening are at a higher risk of experiencing isolation and loneliness. When these sentiments are present in the life of a child, then they are more likely to experience physical and mental health concerns that lead to shyness and avoidance. 2b1af7f3a8