Homework Myth

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Pointing to stories of parents who have fought back-and schools that have proved educational excellence is possible without homework-Kohn demonstrates how we can rethink what happens during and after school in order to rescue our families and our children's love of learning.

Some of the most fundamental expectations of children, parents, and educators are that children need homework, that they should get homework, and that the more they get, the better.

None of these assumptions, he shows, actually passes the test of research, logic, or experience.

So why do we continue to administer this modern cod liver oil—or even demand a larger dose?

Kohn's incisive analysis reveals how a mistrust of children, a set of misconceptions about learning, and a misguided focus on competitiveness have all left our kids with less free time and our families with more conflict.

Pointing to parents who have fought back—and schools that have proved educational excellence is possible without homework— Kohn shows how we can rethink what happens during and after school in order to rescue our families and our children's love of learning.

If it's easy enough for students to breeze through, why do they need to practice that skill? If it's too difficult, why are they being asked to do it outside the classroom, where they are more likely to struggle on their own or to begin practicing incorrectly? Let's face it, most homework assignments don't offer any of these options. Students spend the entire day at school, for the most part doing as they're told and following the instructions of someone else.

Not to mention the feeling of dread that ensues from the school work being too difficult. Homework doesn't foster independence or responsibility. It fosters obedience, maybe, but not responsibility. Not to mention, if homework truly helped students develop independence, we would see fewer incomplete, forgotten, misplaced, or mangled homework as the year progressed... When they leave the building, they should be doing the things they choose.

After all, why am I so presumptuous as a teacher to tell anyone what they should be doing outside of school with their family and friends? Having said these things, I do acknowledge that some practice outside of school can be beneficial... For example, reading outside the classroom has a positive impact on fluency, accuracy, expression, and comprehension.

Although I encourage a love of reading throughout the school day, I also provide books for students to take home and read.

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