This year I eliminated homework. No worksheets, short responses, or essays sent home. No more tears. And no backlash. No stress. More family time. Less anxiety. All work is done in class.
I request students read for at least 30 minutes a night a text of their choosing. I tell them that to become better readers we need to read more. I offer an Article of the Week (AoW) with a written reflection based on their reading for students looking for additional reading and writing practice, but the AoW is not graded. Students earn game points for completing the Article of the Week and reflection. The game points students earn unlock privileges: extended time on in class assignments, passes on notebook checks, or even having their teacher tell them if the quiz question they answered is incorrect while taking the quiz. Sometimes I might even bring in a sweet treat for those who have earned 2,000+ game points.
In response, my students tell me that they feel as if “the pressure is off” when there is no homework. The work that they do in class is their work – not their parents or tutors or copied from friends. Researchers, such as Alfie Kohn (2006) state that there is little or no benefit to giving homework and that it does not really lead to improved academic performance.
My eighth grade students are bombarded with homework in their other classes in addition to the countless after school activities and sports commitments they have. I have had my students tell me that they sometimes have sports practice or a game until 9:30 PM! Sleep and spending time with one’s family are essential during adolescence for brain development and one’s social-emotional intelligence. Homework only gets in the way of that.
I write this post as both a teacher and a parent of elementary school aged children. This past week I spent two and a half hours for three consecutive nights at the kitchen table with my fifth grader as he wrote up a science lab he did in class. Together we talked through the procedures and conclusion of his investigation. I watched him erase and rewrite countless times to get the words right. As he continued to get frustrated and cry, I tried to hold back my own tears as I told him that what he had written was good enough. My son told me how much he hated this project and never wants to do a science experiment again. This homework assignment lacked any benefit in the long run. I did email to his teacher and included the following:
Weigh in on this debate. Where do you stand? Please share your thoughts in the comments section of this blog post.
Need more information check out the following links:
The Case For and Against Homework by Robert J. Marzano and Debra J. Pickering (ACSD, 2007)
Homework vs. No Homework is the Wrong Question to Ask (Edutopia, 2015)
The Homework Wars (The Atlantic, 2013)
The Homework Debate: One Teacher’s Perspective (Cycle of Learning Blog, 2015)