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Reader Mail: Do Kids Need Homework?


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.

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.


Debbie Ausch
Director, Prodigy Learning Center , Larchmont

photo: HCSTonline

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