Tuesday, March 08, 2016

New study proves that giving elementary children homework does not make them smarter, it only makes them hate school.

Courtesy of Salon: 

“There is no evidence that any amount of homework improves the academic performance of elementary students.” 

This statement, by homework research guru Harris Cooper, of Duke University, is startling to hear, no matter which side of the homework debate you’re on. Can it be true that the hours of lost playtime, power struggles and tears are all for naught? That millions of families go through a nightly ritual that doesn’t help? Homework is such an accepted practice, it’s hard for most adults to even question its value. 

When you look at the facts, however, here’s what you find: Homework has benefits, but its benefits are age dependent. 

For elementary-aged children, research suggests that studying in class gets superior learning results, while extra schoolwork at home is just . . . extra work. Even in middle school, the relationship between homework and academic success is minimal at best. By the time kids reach high school, homework provides academic benefit, but only in moderation. More than two hours per night is the limit. After that amount, the benefits taper off. “The research is very clear,” agrees Etta Kralovec, education professor at the University of Arizona. “There’s no benefit at the elementary school level.” 

Before going further, let’s dispel the myth that these research results are due to a handful of poorly constructed studies. In fact, it’s the opposite. Cooper compiled 120 studies in 1989 and another 60 studies in 2006. This comprehensive analysis of multiple research studies found no evidence of academic benefit at the elementary level. It did, however, find a negative impact on children’s attitudes toward school.

I have sat down to help children with homework more times than I can count. 

Not just with my daughter, or my step kids, but with other people's children, and most often children with learning disabilities. 

For that reason, though I disliked homework as a child, I hate it as an adult.

Especially when it interferes in a child's ability to learn the most important lesson they need to learn, how to be a child.

Yes children need to learn, but the best way for them to learn is to allow them to run, and jump, and play.

Allowing the release of their pent up energy is the best way to get their attention in the classroom.

And yet today we see schools cutting out recess, taking time away from lunch, and doubling down on homework assignments.

That does not create well educated, well rounded adults. That creates mindless cogs in a machine.

And mindless cogs do not write symphonies, create new technologies, or move this country forward.

Yes education is broken in this country.

But do you know who broke it?

The people who keep saying they are trying to fix it.


  1. Anonymous4:15 AM

    This generation of snowflakes really has it tough. I don't see how they do it, poor babies.

  2. Anonymous4:35 AM

    Can I make another observation? Our grand daughter, whose mother let the kids select ONE out of school activity at a time (ballet, tai kwan do, Little League) has a friend whose mother had her in some activity out other every single day after school, plus a half day of church stuff on Sundays. The girl was in dance, Brownies, art, sports, and who knows what all. I was appalled. You re right. Kids need to play. The need time when they can read a book of their choosing, play a game with a sibling, make up games, build a fort from the sofa cushions on a rainy day. Our grandkids learned math by helping their mom and me bake cookies. They learned about the world outside their snug bedrooms by reading every Magic Treehouse book and most of the American Girl books, which are based on history. They are bright, happy, funny, and fully capable of spending an hour with themselves and feeling safe.
    Parents are so afraid of down time that the kids have none, and I do think that's why we are seeing the shooters who are so disconnected with humanity that they act out violently. If the only unstructured time you have is after bedtime, and you then take a coupe hours immersed in a video game or some chatroom-how human are you?

  3. Anonymous4:37 AM

    Michael Moore's newest film "Where Do We...." has a segment that validates this research.

  4. George Bushed4:49 AM

    Yes education is broken in this country.
    But do you know who broke it?
    The people who keep saying they are trying to fix it.

    Can I put food on your famil...ooops- wrong idea...Can I get a GREAT BIG MISSION ACCOMPLISHED?!

    My Brother JEB! has these things called COWS, and they help the childrens learn, along with he gets a piece of the pie, and he's back to needin a job...

  5. Anonymous5:11 AM

    Shouldn't forget those people PREFER machine cogs. They are easier to control and make them more money. The great "dumbing down" got us to drumpf.

  6. CorningNY5:18 AM

    I generally agree, but I think small amounts of homework from an early age get kids in the habit of doing homework, which I think of important if homework of going to be given later on.

  7. Anonymous5:36 AM

    My 4th graders know what their homework is every night: Read for 30 minutes. I discuss this with parents at the beginning of the school year and have them sign their child's reading log every night. Sure, some parents sign without the follow through, but most students, most nights, do it. My objective is for them to become lifelong readers and therefore, lifelong learners.

  8. Anonymous5:40 AM

    My kids went to "half-day" (2 hours, 15 minutes) kindergarten because the county refused to provide all-day (6-hour) kindergarten. Why? "Because we're not a free babysitting service." (They really, REALLY hated working mothers.)

    Since the school day basically consisted of getting off the bus, taking off coats and boots, calling roll call, then putting on the coats and shoes and getting back on the bus, they'd often come home with 3 hours of homework. It made me so mad--if the kids were in school all day, they would have gotten the instruction in school, instead of making the parents be unpaid teachers.

  9. Anonymous5:49 AM

    I think teachers give homework that requires help from parents deliberately to engage the parents not because it benefits the kids. I think there are sociopathic teachers who use this power to over-assign homework. Other than working on spelling words, I'd rather see time spent on homework spent reading a book of their choice.

  10. The only positive I can attribute to "homework" is that it fosters good "time management" which is crucial when one "grows-up" and has to balance work, family, and personal time. I learned to finish homework first, then I was free to paint, read my SciFi books, listen to the radio (I'm old and TV wasn't ubiquitous back then), play scrabble, ride my bike, visit friends, etc. But I didn't have "homework" in the summer like some of the kids do now. That is just wrong!

    1. Anonymous7:14 AM

      I had my kids do some "brush up" in their math and spelling during summers. I encouraged them to read at least 2 books and write stories. Rainy day stuff. Plus a crafts box!

  11. Finland scores highest in educated kids and they have no homework. see Where to Invade Next

  12. Anonymous7:19 AM

    Donald Trump Is Unleashing A New Generation Of Bullies

    I guarantee you that bullying incidents are going to be skyrocketing the longer Donald Trump stays in the race -- which means, through November. Until his bullying ways are completely repudiated rather than glorified, it's sending a terrible message to kids everywhere, which has not gone unnoticed by Washington Post opinion writer Petula Dvorak.

    Trump’s vitriol is making it off the campaign trail and into the lingua franca of children at an alarming rate. Just watch coverage from Trump rallies to hear the next phrases kids will be slinging at school.

    “Build the wall!” That was the chant at a high school basketball game in Indiana last week, directed by kids from a majority-white school who held up Trump signs and yelled at the opposing players and fans, who were from a predominantly Latino school.

    “Get ’em out!” is what Trump screams at every rally when he sees Black Lives Matter and other protesters, even silent ones. This is not far off from what some third-graders allegedly said to two brown-skinned classmates in their Northern Virginia classroom. The mother of one of the children, Evelyn Momplaisir, posted an account on Facebook:

    “I just got a call from my son’s teacher giving me a heads up that two of his classmates decided to point out the ‘immigrants’ in the class who would be sent ‘home’ when Trump becomes president. They singled him out and were pointing and laughing at him as one who would have to leave because of the color of his skin. In third grade . . . in Fairfax County . . . in 2016!”

    As Dvorak notes, the effects are absolutely devastating...


  13. Anonymous7:49 AM

    I have always thought homework unnecessary.
    I believe the children should have freedom when school is out.

  14. I agree, no structured homework other than reading for 30+ minutes daily until late middle school/high school. Younger kids need to play to learn and not be stressed by a couple of hours of busy work each school day.

  15. I think the PTA Recommends no more than 10 minutes of homework per night per grade so if you're in second grade you have 20 minutes of homework at night. My Third grade teacher actually assigned as homework to do during Christmas break which was bullshit as a lot of people travel during the holidays and aren't thinking of school. My middle school English teacher would assign us to write out our spelling words 10 x per word and we had 20 of them. All it gave me was a hand cramp. By the time I got the high school I hate homework so much I would take a study hall and do my assignments then so I wouldn't have to take it home

    1. Anonymous4:01 PM

      I always had a paper due right after Christmas break in high school. Of course, we were a blue collar town. Few people had cars, let alone money for holiday ski vacations like now. I never really minded the homework-I was a reader and writer, and it gave me something to do other than fight with my five siblings! We also had a mom who read poetry to us, taught us to cook (we took over dinner when she went back to work,) and played board games with us frequently. She is 85 now, and still reads a book week and does a jigsaw puzzle a week.

  16. Anonymous9:45 AM

    I'm 63. In grade school I never had homework. We had recess twice a day, art classes twice a week, and music classes twice a week, and we had gym twice a week. I had a wonderful puplic education. In Junior High & then high school, I did have homework, but not a lot. My son is now 25. I was appalled at the amount of homework he had to do in grade school. He had to do so much I wondered what they did in class. Seriously. He's an intelligent guy, & did well in school. But it drained us both. As a single mom, it took time away from doing things a child & his family needs or desires to do. School nights were a mad rush to complete his homework, eat dinner & bathe. Before you know it, it's bedtime. I strongly believe in developing an imagination. Great things are created from imagination. I'm also a big proponent of creating memories. We would have a good time doing things together, and with the cousins. Whether it was a trip to the zoo, coloring together, or making up our own traditions or stories. If a child (and even the parent) is bogged down with mega homework, we are not doing our children any great favors. I'm happy this study was done. It's important.

  17. Anonymous9:54 AM

    My brilliant youngest son, who'd already taught himself to read and write before 1st grade, said it best. A few weeks after entering first grade, I was sitting with him, trying to get him to do his math homework. He looked me straight in the eye and said, "I figure they've got me for 6 hours a day, they're not getting any more of my time." And then he went off to read one of his field guides so he could identify some creekside critter he'd just caught.

  18. Anonymous11:14 AM

    I agree with this theory mostly, especially for elementary school. But I put my kids in an "open optional" elementary program, and I eventually figured out, after both my kids (one of whom has a seriously good math brain) got terrible math educations. It was a combination of the teachers disliking math themselves, so only teaching it for a couple of weeks at a time, then moving on to something that they liked more, which was invariably reading or writing based. During the blocks of time that they were not doing any math, my kids would actually completely forget how their basic math skills, like multiplying and dividing. So I would say yes to "no homework", but as a parent, I think that maybe it's important for the kids to do five math problems of homework per day, just to keep their skills honed, and to keep the teachers on track as well.

  19. Anonymous11:49 AM

    If these kids think homework is so stifling and nonproductive, I suggest they not aim for college or any higher education. They won't know what hit them when they realize that a freshman year of college is not 13th Grade.

  20. Speaking as a mother of three and a retired elementary school teacher(20 years in Manitoba schools), I couldn't agree more. Kids need time to be kids, to imagine to dream to play that goes for having children enrolled in everything going as well.
    Elaine McCullough May, Vancouver Island BC

  21. Anita Winecooler4:51 PM

    I was active in my kid's school, watching kids with thrity lbs of books in their backpacks board and return home on the bus accomplished nothing.
    Their school changed Administration, and the focus of "home work" was less than two hours, and was more about learning effective study skills and the importance of time management. The school didn't slash programs nor hire poorly performing teachers. They had break time, recess, civics, art, and plain old interaction time with their peers. Homework wasn't used to cover what the teachers didn't get to during the day, but they had parents as teacher's aides, and wrap around help for kids with disabilities.
    I had exactly one issue with someone bullying my daughter, and they nipped that in the bud pretty quickly. All kids are different and have different ways of learning, and the good teachers find the approach that works best for each student.
    The ones who showed up screaming on parent teacher night are the parents who tried to be their kid's friends, never responded to emails and letters when teachers asked their imput or there was a problem.


Don't feed the trolls!
It just goes directly to their thighs.