To the Editor:
Is homework needed, and how long is should it take?
The debate over the value of homework has been reignited recently in mainstream media. In the documentary Race to Nowhere, and a recent New York Times Op-ed “The Trouble with Homework,” by Anne Murphy Paul, educators analyze some of the shortcomings with the type and length of homework assigned in today’s classrooms.
Over the last three decades the amount of homework has been increased, yet students have not gotten smarter or more competitive according to International Student Assessment Data. One of the reasons for this intellectual stagnation is the lack of quality homework assigned. For instance, typically students in elementary grades are assigned a homework task which requires them to copy spelling words multiple times. This type of assignment offers very little educational value. This is a passive unchallenging assignment which thus does not promote learning. In order to promote strong neural networks which fosters retention, the brain needs to work hard. The question parents and teachers should be discussing is not how much homework should be assigned; but, whether the homework assigned is effective.
My daughter’s first grade teacher has a no homework policy. She believes that there is enough time for plenty of learning and reinforcement within the six hours that my daughter is at school. She does not see the merit in overburdening kids with additional nonsensical and rote assignments, which most often requires parents’ assistance. I think this is the approach many more teachers should take.
Director, Prodigy Learning Center , Larchmont