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.
I have friends with kids that have massive amounts of homework like that. I don't remember much of it when I was a kid. Maybe a special project, or extra credit or something. Never more than thirty minutes, and as you said, could be done before actually arriving home.ReplyDelete
Alex: I never did extra credit that had to be done at home. If it was, like, bonus problems on a test, I always did them, but I never volunteered for extra work to take home.Delete
Then, again, I didn't need to.
Yeah, you're not the only one. I have quite a few friends whose kids get a ridiculous amount of homework, like 2-3 hours per night, and it just seems like way too much.ReplyDelete
When I was a kid, like Alex, homework was at most 30 minutes a day, and usually it could have been completed during class if you were fast enough.
I may be completely off base on this (I don't have kids, so take what I say with a grain of salt) but isn't one of the reasons we have school to prepare kids for the real world? Well, I go to my job from 9-5 and then come home. I don't come home, slam down dinner, and then spend 3 more hours working on business while I ignore my family. So why the hell do they expect kids to do this?
ABftS: I don't know! And that's kind of my point.Delete
I mean, I get that the US is trying to figure out how/why we are lagging behind other nations, now, in education and pushing teachers to do more with less and that the only option they feel they have is to give more homework, BUT!
When you look at the solution you're using and the solution isn't actually working, that doesn't mean do that solution more and harder; it means finding a different solution.
I have to say, homework was not the reason I hated school. However, I totally agree with your points about homework. It seems to be taking over the lives of kids and it only gets worse every year. I think it's because it's all designed to get high scores on state exams that prove the school is doing it's job.ReplyDelete
Jeanne: Sort of, yes. Teachers don't actually have enough time to teach what needs to be taught because of the way school is structured, so they try to make up for it with homework.Delete
I used to babysit a brother and sister, and it was like pulling teeth to get them to do their homework. They were constantly running around their school, playing games, and sneaking into classrooms and the office to fool around with other people's belongings, when what homework they had could easily be done in all of 20 minutes, if that. They hated homework and reading, even when they had a pretty reasonable amount, and it wasn't even that difficult. Then again, they go to an Orthodox day school, where standards are a lot different.ReplyDelete
From what I've heard, a lot of other school are giving too much homework these days. My sophomore year of high school was an nightmare, thanks to my inept guidance counselor forcing me to remain in Regents-level Chemistry and Course II (i.e., Geometry), together with the European History AP class I'd wanted to take. He didn't care I was failing the math and science classes, and even for a time failing and struggling in the history class. There was way too much homework, and too many challenging courses all at once.
Carrie-Anne: Counselors, unfortunately, too often are basing their judgements on looking at a piece of paper and solving schedules like a crossword puzzle rather than reality.Delete
My children are 28 and 34. They had so much homework that they didn't have time to play or read a book for enjoyment. I hated their homework. It's ridiculous for a child to go to school most of the day and then come home to two hours or more of homework.ReplyDelete
Janie: It is ridiculous. I'm so tired of it.Delete
Interesting post !ReplyDelete
I really don't know why kids are being given heavy loads of homework these days. Why they have to learn vast array of things, ninety percent of it is useless in life. As adults we say do not bring your work to home but for kids they are being asked to take 'work' home ! Strange !
Thanks for this post :)
Rajiv: Most of what we "learn" in school is useless. The problem is that it doesn't have to be. The focus is all wrong, there, especially in this age of instant information. What's the point of having to memorize the dates of all the important Civil War battles when I can just look all of it up in moments.Delete
I'm with you on this rant. I don't recall having much in the way of homework when I was a kid. If I was interested in something I'd come up with my own homework and I'd have fun with it instead of stressing from the pressure of having to get it done.ReplyDelete
When my kids were in school I was a single father who worked long hours. I didn't have time or the energy to help my kids with their homework and I dreaded when they had beaucoups of it. They did well enough in school, but they left with little seeming love for the institution.
Tossing It Out
Lee: See, if school spent more time on helping kids find things they are interested in and exploring those things, it would be a much more successful place for kids.Delete
Not a fan of homework, but I KNOW I have two kids who went through the same schools and had VERY different amounts of it. My daughter had a ton, my son very little. Some detective work has concluded that it is because my son (like his mom) efficiently got it out of the way at school so as to not be burdened by it. My daughter was social at school so had to bring her work home. Maybe investigate this possibility.ReplyDelete
Hart: Oh, yeah, we've tried that. My daughter is social but also extremely competitive, so she manages to do a lot at school. My son, on the other hand, is not social, but he's also a meticulous worker, so he takes longer to do EVERYTHING.Delete
But it's all done entirely correctly.
My son does his homework on the bus or at school, as well. My daughter, on the other hand, sobs or sniffles (depending upon the type) her way through math every single night. No matter how I try, I cannot get her to grasp the math. Though I think it's less about grasping it and more about having anxiety the moment she sits down and discovers it's a type of math she dislikes. Because she cries instantly. She just quietly sniffles away as she does her homework. I absolutely hate it. I don't want to see what middle school homework will do to her. She just plain doesn't want to do it. My son keeps telling her to do it on the bus so she can relax when she gets home, but she likes chatting with her friends. Can't say I blame her. He's old enough to go up the street to play with a friend, but she isn't.ReplyDelete
Shannon: See, no kid should have to go through that over homework.Delete
My high school son is of the 'do it but don't always turn it in' variety. Turns out it's often because he has a question on one thing, but doesn't feel he has any time in class to ask said question and so never gets around to completing the homework until I nag him to near death to book time during their little window two days a week for such things or have to pick him up after school so he has time to sit down with the teacher.ReplyDelete
My daughter is, like me and you, the do it at school or on the bus sort. Thankfully, she only has occasional time-intensive assignments, even with three advanced classes. Sorry to hear your daughter's middle school experience isn't the same. That really sucks. :(
Jean: Evidently, for my son, it was just that it was too much trouble to get it out. Actually, it's because the responsibility to turn it in was left to them. They had a basket for incoming homework, and they were responsible to put their homework into it. Without the prompt, he wouldn't remember.Delete