kids may be right after all, homework stinks!

by Alfie Kohn - The Perseus Books Group, 2007
in / parent + teacher books

Actually I think it’s really ‘kids and parents may be right after all’, because I’ve never met a parent who loves homework – it’s a major drain on family time and the source of a world of grief for parent and child alike. 

And yet we persist. And parents continue to feel that to be ‘good’ parents they must support the school’s homework regime. 

Alfie to the rescue! 

Here's a very short article where Alfie Kohn bullet-points some of the evidence that homework fails to accomplish its stated purposes – which is to raise achievement, teach independence and establish good habits. (One might ask what exactly is good about a habit of working into the night when you could/should be spending quality time with family.)

Essentially – homework fails to provide any benefit at all in primary (elementary) school.

There’s a book to go with the article of course – The Homework Myth  - and it details the various studies that back up the idea that homework is not only unnecessary, it’s damaging. The final chapter of the book is “Making Change’ and it’s primarily directed at educators.

I read this book the year it was released in 2006 and by that time I had three children at a mainstream high school and three at a progressive, democratic primary school. The younger children’s school never assigned homework, but of course there was homework coming in by the bucketful from the high school.

Most of Kohn’s book relates to schooling in the younger years, but he does note that the correlation between academic advantage and homework doesn’t spike until year 10. So homework wasn’t something I had to rise up in rebellion against! Still, reading The Homework Myth helped me to feel more comfortable at those times when I gave my high school kids the night (or the week) off homework.

If you're the parent or teacher of primary school children this is eye-opening and convincing stuff. Here's the article link again - and Alfie Kohn 's site.