"A child's learning is the function more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Homework Myths

WaPo has a short piece on the annual homework controversy--with a mention of Alfie Kohn's new book:

The nation's best-known researcher on homework has taken a new look at the subject, and here is what Duke University professor Harris Cooper has to say:

Elementary school students get no academic benefit from homework -- except reading and some basic skills practice -- and yet schools require more than ever.

High school students studying until dawn probably are wasting their time because there is no academic benefit after two hours a night; for middle-schoolers, 1 1/2 hours.

And what's perhaps more important, he said, is that most teachers get little or no training on how to create homework assignments that advance learning.

The controversy over homework that has raged for more than a century in U.S. education is reheating with new research by educators and authors about homework's purpose and design. . .


  1. Did Kohn use the right measurement for his claim? I attended an educational conference in Williamsburg, VA this past summer in which a former principal of Flint Michigan said that we absolutely must give homework. He claimed that students do need the practice along with how to budget time, etc. He said that his school really did a disservice to students not requiring it because these students were not prepared to do the "homework" of higher education. He stated that his students often dropped out of college because they were not prepared to do work outside of the classroom environment.

  2. Anonymous8:04 PM

    I am a High School Senior who has taken several AP courses that require the most homework and difficult assignments. I was quite startled when I found out about this controversy about homework that is gaining momentum once again.
    Alfie Kohn seems to exaggurate his facts quite a bit. I have been in High School for enough years and have never heard of any students who were studying "until dawn".
    I must add that I have written papers at 3 in the morning, however, this was my own fault and I have learned a tremendous amount of life lessons from these mistakes. Procrastinating is a student's greatest skill (or disease) and having homework and long-term assignments are the best cure. I realize that I am playing the devli's advocate when I say that homework is helping me. Of course I hate coming home and having to spend a few hours rethinking what I've learned in school that day. I'd much rather go out with my friends. But then again, seeing a movie with your buddies hasn't helped anyone get into college. I enjoy learning new things and I appreciate being taught well. Homework is vital in my learning process. I love receiving good grades and feel that High School has prepared me well for my grand leap into college this fall.