Should Schools Ban Homework

Reformers in the Progressive Era (from the 1890s to 1920s) depicted homework as a “sin” that deprived children of their playtime. Many critics voice similar concerns today.

Yet there are many parents who feel that from early on, children need to do homework if they are to succeed in an increasingly competitive academic culture. School administrators and policy makers have also weighed in, proposing various policies on homework.

So, does homework help or hinder kids?

For the last 10 years, my colleagues and I have been investigating international patterns in homework using databases like the Trends in Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS). If we step back from the heated debates about homework and look at how homework is used around the world, we find the highest homework loads are associated with countries that have lower incomes and higher social inequality.

Does Homework Result In Academic Success?

Let’s first look at the global trends on homework.

Undoubtedly, homework is a global phenomenon; students from all 59 countries that participated in the 2007 Trends in Math and Science Study (TIMSS) reported getting homework. Worldwide, only less than 7% of fourth graders said they did no homework.

TIMSS is one of the few data sets that allow us to compare many nations on how much homework is given (and done). And the data show extreme variation.

For example, in some nations, like Algeria, Kuwait and Morocco, more than one in five fourth graders reported high levels of homework. In Japan, less than 3% of students indicated they did more than four hours of homework on a normal school night.

TIMSS data can also help to dispel some common stereotypes. For instance, in East Asia, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Japan – countries that had the top rankings on TIMSS average math achievement – reported rates of heavy homework that were below the international mean.

In the Netherlands, nearly one out of five fourth graders reported doing no homework on an average school night, even though Dutch fourth graders put their country in the top 10 in terms of average math scores in 2007.

Going by TIMSS data, the US is neither “A Nation at Rest” as some have claimed, nor a nation straining under excessive homework load. Fourth and eighth grade US students fall in the middle of the 59 countries in the TIMSS data set, although only 12% of US fourth graders reported high math homework loads compared to an international average of 21%.

So, is homework related to high academic success?

At a national level, the answer is clearly no. Worldwide, homework is not associated with high national levels of academic achievement.

But, the TIMSS can’t be used to determine if homework is actually helping or hurting academic performance overall, it can help us see how much homework students are doing, and what conditions are associated with higher national levels of homework.

We have typically found that the highest homework loads are associated with countries that have lower incomes and higher levels of social inequality – not hallmarks that most countries would want to emulate.

Impact Of Homework On Kids

TIMSS data also show us how even elementary school kids are being burdened with large amounts of homework.

Almost 10% of fourth graders worldwide (one in 10 children) reported spending multiple hours on homework each night. Globally, one in five fourth graders report 30 minutes or more of homework in math three to four times a week.

These reports of large homework loads should worry parents, teachers and policymakers alike.

Empirical studies have linked excessive homework to sleep disruption, indicating a negative relationship between the amount of homework, perceived stress and physical health.

Elementary school kids are dealing with large amounts of homework. Howard County Library System, CC BY-NC-ND

What constitutes excessive amounts of homework varies by age, and may also be affected by cultural or family expectations. Young adolescents in middle school, or teenagers in high school, can study for longer duration than elementary school children.

But for elementary school students, even 30 minutes of homework a night, if combined with other sources of academic stress, can have a negative impact. Researchers in China have linked homework of two or more hours per night with sleep disruption.

Even though some cultures may normalize long periods of studying for elementary age children, there is no evidence to support that this level of homework has clear academic benefits. Also, when parents and children conflict over homework, and strong negative emotions are created, homework can actually have a negative association with academic achievement.

Should There Be “No Homework” Policies?

Administrators and policymakers have not been reluctant to wade into the debates on homework and to formulate policies. France’s president, Francois Hollande, even proposed that homework be banned because it may have inegaliatarian effects.

However, “zero-tolerance” homework policies for schools, or nations, are likely to create as many problems as they solve because of the wide variation of homework effects. Contrary to what Hollande said, research suggests that homework is not a likely source of social class differences in academic achievement.

Homework, in fact, is an important component of education for students in the middle and upper grades of schooling.

Policymakers and researchers should look more closely at the connection between poverty, inequality and higher levels of homework. Rather than seeing homework as a “solution,” policymakers should question what facets of their educational system might impel students, teachers and parents to increase homework loads.

At the classroom level, in setting homework, teachers need to communicate with their peers and with parents to assure that the homework assigned overall for a grade is not burdensome, and that it is indeed having a positive effect.

Perhaps, teachers can opt for a more individualized approach to homework. If teachers are careful in selecting their assignments – weighing the student’s age, family situation and need for skill development – then homework can be tailored in ways that improve the chance of maximum positive impact for any given student.

I strongly suspect that when teachers face conditions such as pressure to meet arbitrary achievement goals, lack of planning time or little autonomy over curriculum, homework becomes an easy option to make up what could not be covered in class.

Whatever the reason, the fact is a significant percentage of elementary school children around the world are struggling with large homework loads. That alone could have long-term negative consequences for their academic success.

Gerald K LeTendre, Professor of Education , Pennsylvania State University

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

  • Get rid of it now

    Compulsory attendance is law. If your child attends public school they must attend the school they are assigned, accept the rules of the school and the teacher assigned to them. The school has complete say over what your child is learning, eating, what clothes they wear, what time your child's day begins, how much physical activity and social interaction your child has during the day. Even once your child gets home, the teacher controls their afternoon, physical activity, and socialization with the amount of homework they're given. Every parent should be outraged at the interference that happens everyday in schools. You are not preparing kids for the real world by giving them homework. The majority of American jobs do not require you to take your work home with you. (In fact its against the law to work without getting paid but if you want to take your work home with you by your own decision then OK) So why REQUIRE children to take their work home with them? When they walk through the door in the morning they are on the Schools time so they must do whatever the Teacher requires of them. When they walk out the door in the afternoon they should no longer be obligated to do what the school mandates.

  • Sports vs. Stressing

    The amount of homework teenagers are receiving these days are absolutely ridiculous. My kids are coming home from school crying and by the first month of school, they already are ready for winter break.
    These kids need time to relax and enjoy entertainment, and be involved in Sports and Clubs. Schools are wondering, why are clubs receiving less attendance? The answer for that is kids have so much homework that they are afraid they will not get it done. Teachers may think that the assignment only lasts 15 minutes for them, and that that should be the same for kids. But the kids don't know the information so it takes them a lot longer. These homework assignments are mainly meant for kids with no activities. Homework should be about 30 minutes to 1 and a half hours.

  • A wast of your time

    Schools teachers don't know that we have better things to do than homework. Some of us have a job,family to take care of. Teachers should try to fill are shoes some times so they know how busier we are than they think. So why should have homework that what we should do at school not at home.

  • The cons far outweigh the pros

    There is plenty of anecdotal evidence of homework squelching kids' love of learning and eroding their recreational time and their sleep time. There is very little evidence that homework adds to the educational experience. Guided practice can (and should) be done in schools to be sure that students acquire skills and concepts; parents should not have to help their kids and be taskmasters at home.

  • Homework is wrong

    We have no time ever to do what we want. You may say that homework helps us learn and remember more. However this is incorrect. Because it keeps us up late at night which means we're too tired to pay attention in school.Teachers try fix this solution by giving us more homework. But what they don't realize is that it only makes it worse because we only become more sleep deprived than before. But if we didn't have homework,we would have more energy to actually learn in class.

  • They spend all day at school ,let them have some down time when they get home.

    Kids spend all day at school, when they get home they should not have to spend 2 hours doing homewok. Give kids a chance to be kids. Let them go outside and play and spend time on after school sports and activities. Kids will have plenty of work to do when they grow up!

  • Its completely without logic.

    If a kids spends seven hours at school, he shouldn't spend another couple hours doing homework. It's too much to ask. Can't we give these kids a break? They go to school five days out of seven (an unbalanced time scale). They don't need homework. Banning homework would make school much more enjoyable and if your like me, you put in more effort when you're not pressured or feel happy.

  • Homework should be banned

    Are you the type of student that hates homework? Do you think homework should be banned in the further? As a parent or a teacher, you will think that homework is a very important part of learning. But for a kid or a student, getting pages of homework from all different subjects everyday wouldn't be fun to do, instead it will just be stressful, useless and wasting time, so schools should banned homework!

    We have school from Monday to Friday, morning to the afternoon. School is already the most tiring thing in the whole day for students, but still teachers give us homework to do and practice. For most students in year 7, they start to have lessons after school or in the weekends like maths and English, some also learn music, art or other things. These tutorial will also have some homework or needed to be practice almost everyday. We as student, really need time to have a rest after school, homework is just taking always the time we are using for resting and playing.

    Teachers (how give their students too much homework), you know that homework can help students practice, but do you know that it can also make your students have a bad or a lower grade than before. For example, if you will have a test tomorrow but because you have so much homework to finish, you have no time to practice, or maybe, you have finished your work up to night and you feel so, so tired, so your parent stopped you from learning and not practice. When the next day arrive, your test result might be worst than before. Also if you have a strict mother, father or teacher, you will get into a big trouble!!!

    Homework is wasting our time, everyday. Imagine if homework could be banned in schools, children and students will have more time to do what they wanted, like playing games, running, doing sports, art, play music or even just reading a book. Teachers, you should know that exercise can make you healthy, it's more important to be healthy than being smart or having a clever brain, so please banned the homework we have now.

    As a student, I really think and want homework to be banned now and in the further. It is very tiring and also wasting our time that we can be spending with our family or doing something that we enjoy. Homework is the reason why students hate school and learning so if homework could be banned, student wouldn't get tired of learning. Homework should really be banned!!!

  • Homework is too stressful and there is no time for daily activities

    Being a student myself, I usually never get some free time. Believe it or not, I stay up until 11:45 PM because I get a lot of homework. When I wake up, I can hardly think or keep my eyes open in school. This can effect grades and make things worse than they used to be. Kids need to have at least 9 hours of sleep each night in order to pay attention in school. A child should have time to play, spend time with family and friends, explore, and have fun. Having homework can prevent a child from doing this. Having no free time can also damage the child mentally because of so much stress and being locked inside their houses. That is kind of like being locked in a box with no access to freedom. And you can't take a break either because if you do, there will be less time to finish your homework. Why? Because bedtime is approaching quickly. This causes stress to the child. Not finishing your homework is also a problem because teachers lower your grade just because you didn't turn it in. So like I have stated above, having homework can make you tired in the mornings and will lower their grade. Not finishing your homework and not turning it in will also lower their grade. With the child knowing this, it causes even more stress because the child can realize that they will not have freedom the whole year. Having to much stress can cause to depression. Depression can lead to much more worse things. In conclusion, homework is too stressful and it interferes with daily activities such as sports, hobbies, taking care of pets, etc.

  • Homework is too stressful and there is no time for daily activities

    Being a student myself, I usually never get some free time. Believe it or not, I stay up until 11:45 PM because I get a lot of homework. When I wake up, I can hardly think or keep my eyes open in school. This can effect grades and make things worse than they used to be. Kids need to have at least 9 hours of sleep each night in order to pay attention in school. A child should have time to play, spend time with family and friends, explore, and have fun. Having homework can prevent a child from doing this. Having no free time can also damage the child mentally because of so much stress and being locked inside their houses. That is kind of like being locked in a box with no access to freedom. And you can't take a break either because if you do, there will be less time to finish your homework. Why? Because bedtime is approaching quickly. This causes stress to the child. Not finishing your homework is also a problem because teachers lower your grade just because you didn't turn it in. So like I have stated above, having homework can make you tired in the mornings and will lower their grade. Not finishing your homework and not turning it in will also lower their grade. With the child knowing this, it causes even more stress because the child can realize that they will not have freedom the whole year. Having to much stress can cause to depression. Depression can lead to much more worse things. In conclusion, homework is too stressful and it interferes with daily activities such as sports, hobbies, taking care of pets, etc.

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