Back To The Drawing Board

Publication, Education, Michael Zwaagstra, Rodney A. Clifton

Executive Summary

• There is great debate over whether or not homework is conducive to student learning. Homework opponents, such as popular education author Alfi e Kohn, argue that homework usually amounts to pointless busywork that provides virtually no appreciable benefi t to students.

• Some jurisdictions are moving toward eliminating homework. In April 2008, the Toronto Public School Board announced a new policy designed to severely reduce the amount of homework assigned to students.

• Homework opponents say research does not back the claim that homework improves student achievement on standardized tests and that valuable time is being taken away from other activities.

• The arguments made by homework opponents have significant flaws:

– In reality, the most recent numbers indicate that the average time spent on daily homework by six- to eight-year-old students is 22 minutes and that high school students spent an average of 50 minutes per weekday on homework.

– Considering that school days are generally 5.5 hours or fewer, it hardly seems unreasonable to add an extra 22 or 50 minutes during the week for completing homework assignments.

– The research data show a correlation between homework and academic achievement for middle years and high school students.

• The average six- to eight-year-old child watches an average of one hour and 51 minutes per day of television, and high school students watch an average of two hours and eight minutes daily. If anything is taking away from physical exercise and productive family time, it is television, not homework.

• Homework is an important part of the schooling process, and it would be better to reform and improve its use than to abolish it entirely.

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