On Homework and Grades: No Thanks

The whole emphasis on homework for school-aged children, especially before high school, is misplaced and wrong to me.  Apparently, research has shown that homework is largely not productive for children’s learning, and I will obtain some bibliographic info./citations on these sources on a small essay I might write someday on this subject.

When I think about all the homework put on me from especially 5th grade on through to 10th grade and the pressures from teachers and my parents about getting it done well and on time, I see how it was such a source of performance anxiety development and internalization of shame in my psyche.  Also, grades were overly-emphasized, as if I were my grades.  Such falseness and a waste of time and energy over something not important.  My intelligence was there intact, regardless of my grades, which were largely poor through grammar, middle, and the first half of high school.

Parents and teachers reading this, please do not pressure and shame your children/students around homework and grades.  If your kids are smart, they’ll learn however they best learn. Trust and support them in that, please, and go from there.  Thank you.

4 thoughts on “On Homework and Grades: No Thanks

  1. I would have never believed that you ever had a problem in school. I agree wholeheartedly with you. The regiment teachers and schools resort to leaves no space for individuality or the ability to think with one’s own mind. This is an exhausting experience for a lot of kids who then get labeled with all sorts of lovely diagnoses and later become part of the psychiatric system. Love this one, Sean, for obvious reasons.

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  2. You’re right on. I agree. As a parent of two children–one in high school and one finishing college–and a high school teacher, education professor, and school consultant, I’ve dealt with the homework issue from a number of perspectives. I could rant for pages. The anti-homework movement is generally unpopular with parents, teachers, and school administrators. Believe me, the backlash I’d experience when I spoke to both teacher and parent groups was stunning. The cold-war era drive to ensure “our kids” will be globally competitive is strong still. It’s compounded now by ensuring “our kids” will be competitive in the domestic job market. The unsubstantiated beliefs that homework will make these happen (and will build kids’ characters, and teach them life skills!) drives educational policy. There is research on the benefits of homework out there, but the study designs and conclusions drawn from them aren’t often logical. I myself am a fan of Alfie Kohn’s work (he wrote The Homework Myth). Check out chapter 2 of his book at https://www.alfiekohn.org/homework-improve-learning/. And here’s a fairly balanced (though overly generalised) review of research from the Center for Public Education: http://www.centerforpubliceducation.org/research/what-research-says-about-value-homework-research-review .

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