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Homework for tweens: the controversy

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Homework: pro or con for tweens?

Alfie Kohn, author of The Homework Myth, says the negatives of homework for students below high school age outweigh the benefits. There is not substantial evidence, Kohn says, that homework produces responsibility, self-discipline and higher achievement. (www.scholastic.com/teachers) Homework can produce a negative attitude on students due to the pressure of turning it all in on time.

Many people feel that kids need time for social and creative activities, and homework interferes. Kohn also says negative effects of homework are exhaustion, lack of time for other activities, frustration, and loss of interest in learning. (www.alfiekohn.org). Parents worry “that they will be criticized either for not being involved enough with the homework or for becoming too involved.”

Kohn feels it is a myth that homework has a positive effect. There is no correlation between whether kids do their homework and their achievement. As for building character or promoting good study habits, Kohn says that is a myth, too. Parents and teachers need support from school administrators in changing the homework policies. There is just too much frustration from all sides. It’s not only the amount of work, it’s also the learning experience, the importance of the assignment, and the expectations that need to be addressed. Schools need to find out how students feel about the homework they are being given and how it improves their learning experience and the effects on their lives.

Homework: Harmful or Helpful? (www.eduflow.wordpress.com)is an article that also questions the value of homework. They mention French president Hollande, who proposed a no homework policy to “level the playing field” because some parents can help their kids and some can’t. In this article, however, the writer feels homework is linked to learning but must be designed to improve understanding.

Because of the disagreements, the pros and cons are listed as follows:

Pros:

  1. Helps clarify and consolidate school day’s work.
  2. Practice with skills, concepts and content.
  3. Improves performance in standardized tests (Denied by A. Kohn).
  4. Extension of classwork to help achieve mastery.
  5. Not enough time in day for kids to understand it all.
  6. Rote learning.
  7. Parents can see what kids are doing.
  8. Teaches self-discipline, time management and research skills.
  9. Promotes good study habits and shortens time for TV and video.
  10. Increases interest in school work when corrected quickly.

Cons:

  1. Must be corrected quickly or students lose interest.
  2. Can be too stressful.
  3. Disturbes family and prevents kids from doing chores.ts.
  4. Parents or relatives may do the homework for student.
  5. No time to relax, play, or do sports or interests.
  6. Makes students tired after long day.
  7. Keeps students up too late.
  8. Often busywork with no purpose.
  9. Upper and middle class homes have better resources to help.

Another argument is in favor of homework, but only in high school and college level courses. (www.debate.yukozimo.com). This point of view says students can practice rote learning, and allows class time to include discussions and questions. On the other hand, they say, performance of younger students is not improved by homework, and it is stressful. The conclusion is similar to Alfie Kohn’s. Students need time to develop their talents and interests, and a change in the homework system is something that should definitely be addressed.

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