I'm going to come right out of the closet and say, "I hate homework." Is there a closet for that? If there is, I'm coming out of it. If I was ever even in it. Actually, I didn't mind homework so much when I was a kid but, then, I almost never had homework. Not that I didn't have homework, but I almost always made sure that I finished it at school or, at the latest, on the bus coming home. Because, other than reading, that's what the school bus is for.
We don't have school buses here.
Not that we don't have them -- there are some -- but they aren't for busing kids to school like they were when I was a kid where I was from. They are mostly short buses, here, and the regular long buses seem to be used only on special occasions for field trips and stuff. But I digress...
There's a lot of conflicting data out there, right now, about the amount of homework kids are doing today as opposed to a few decades ago, too much so for me to wade through for a blog post. However, my experience tells me that there is more homework today. Or, maybe, it's just my kids' schools. Or, maybe, it's just that my kids do their homework whereas most kids don't, which is why the overall amount of time kids spend on homework doesn't seem to have changed much in the last few decades. But I'll get back to that in a moment.
What there is not a lot of conflicting data about is the efficacy of homework. Most of the newer studies indicate that homework is only effective in rather small doses (except for reading); beyond that, the effect of homework becomes more and more negative the more there is. The problem is that not all kids do homework the same way, so what might take some students 20 minutes to do, others take an hour to do. That, of course, is more and more compounded as you add other classes to that.
Do you want to know the biggest drawback of homework?
It makes kids hate school.
We've had issues with and around homework with each of our kids. Not the same issues but issues nonetheless.
When our oldest was in middle school, he just wouldn't turn in his homework, which we could never figure out. Why spend the time doing it if you're not going to turn it in? But he didn't know the answer to that then and still doesn't know it now. Fortunately (for everyone involved), he got all of that figured out by high school and had a successful high school career. The thing is, though, by high school, he just did his homework, even though it meant hours a night doing it. He would go to his room and take care of it. Later, when he was involved in all kinds of after-school activities, he did it all at school, and it was never an issue. Never an issue beyond the loss of family time, that is, which we weren't having anyway since he wasn't home. Him not being home, though, was more of the issue than the homework.
The younger boy has had escalating issues with homework. Actually, he's a great example of how homework damages kids. For the last many years, he has come home with hours of homework every night. This started before middle school with him. There's more to be said about all of this, but I'm going to sum it all up by putting it this way: For years, the entire family has been held hostage to his homework. Not only does it continue to interfere with us doing things as a family, but it has caused him to miss events because he just has too much homework.
Granted, part of that is because he's meticulous, which makes him slow, BUT...
The youngest, my daughter, started middle school this year. She's like I was when I was a kid and, until now, has never had much homework. Anything she could do at school, she did at school. Sixth grade changed that and, suddenly, she was coming home with two to three hours of homework everyday. Now, my daughter is very active. She likes to be out doing things. She plays softball and the accordion. Between homework and accordion practice (which is only half an hour), she quit being able to go out and play. There have been days when she has come home and broken down into tears over the amount of homework she has. To her credit, she would then go do it, but I'm worried that she's going to start hating school the way her brother does. She has always loved school.
And, see, it wasn't just my son being slow with his work, because my daughter is quick.
I hate homework! I hate it for them, and I hate it for what it does to our family.We spent a huge part of Thanksgiving break overseeing homework, and I'm not really okay with that. Okay, I'm not at all okay with that. I'm tired of my family being focused all the time on whether homework is finished or not. It's too much, and it's wrong. I mean, how many adults do you know who would be okay with going to work and, then, coming home with two to three (or more) hours of more work for which they weren't being paid? Sure, there are some but not most of them.
And this is the part where I want to go into a larger rant about the education system and how the system is broken and mired in tradition -- face it, possibly more than any other system we have (except, maybe, the Republicans), the education system believes in doing the same thing over and over again (only harder and faster) while it waits for a better result -- but this post has gone on long enough, and I'm going to leave all of that for some other time. But expect something about math soon, because math is stupid (with respects to Tina Downey). Okay, not all math... You'll just have to wait for me to explain.