August 29, 2011

When will the homework madness stop?

My 7-year-old second-grader brought home her first batch of homework today. It came in two workbooks, one textbook and one worksheet. It took her 30-40 minutes to complete, and it consisted of mostly review-type math, grammar and spelling work.

As I read the teacher's school web page, which explains the homework, I was not too shocked to see that she strongly supports this workload, contending that it will help my daughter learn responsibility and build good study habits, to which my best response is, "Poppycock!"

When will this homework madness stop? How many books and exhaustive homework studies must be completed before teachers eliminate this archaic habit?

To suggest that homework teaches responsibility is nothing shy of ludicrous. How can a child demonstrate responsibility, when given no choice in the task and threatened with punishment if the homework is not done? If I put a gun to your head and tell you to copy the Bill of Rights and you comply, does this make you responsible?

Alfie Kohn, Sara Bennett, John Hattie and Etta Kralovek are all noted educators and researchers who have denounced the effectiveness of homework as a teaching tool. Even Duke researcher Harris Cooper, who tried desperately in two separate studies to find value in the practice, said there is no measurable correlation between homework and achievement in elementary school.

Yet a second-grader is carrying five pounds of books and spending more than 30 minutes drawing lines from words to matching phrases.

Is there no end in sight to the homework monster?