The Homework Debate

Homework Facts:

  • In 2004 the University of Michigan did a study and found that there had been a 51% increase in the amount of homework that students were receiving.
  • In 1981, students ages 6 to 8 were doing about 52 minutes of homework per night. In 1997 this had increased to 128 minutes per night.
  • Studies have found that while some homework does cause standardized testing scores to rise, if students in high school are doing more than two hours of homework per night the scores lowered. For middle school student test scores dropped if they were doing more than 60 to 90 minutes of homework.
  • Countries that outshine the U.S. in education typically assign less homework.
Homework opinions:
  • Some educators feels that we assign children more homework because we are crazed with standardized test results. It has been said “it isn’t about knowledge, it’s about winning”.
  • Parents have stated that a student’s interest in learning overall fades when homework is so time consuming.
  • One parent makes the point that what goes on in schools should set an example to the students. If there is so much homework, doesn’t this give the student the example of poor time management by the schools? How is it that they can’t get the work done with all of the hours they have our children?
  • One private school that does not promote a lot of homework finds that their students are excited about taking projects home to their parents, enjoy playing music with friends after school, get involved in other great activities and in general are not “at risk”.
  • Educators who are pro-homework have declared that homework sends the message to parents that the schools “mean business”. They believe that homework fosters critical thinking, persistence and diligence when looked at over time.
  • Parents and educators tend to agree that in younger years there is little academic value to homework.
  • An educator pointed out at a forum at Harvard recently that a teacher never knows who is doing the homework when it is sent home. There are those parents who do it for a child or hover over the student and don’t let them really learn.
One thing is consistent and that is that this is an ongoing debate with heated opinions on both sides of the fence. There are those that want to abolish homework altogether and there are those that believe it is a precursor for real life and teach valuable skills to students.
Parents in general find homework to be a full time job. While they may enjoy having the time with their students they may wish that they had more options of how to spend such time. Homework tends to become a full time job just for the parent and in many homes causes great contention between parent and child. Perhaps if this is the case a parent contract could be used to help set standards in the home.