It’s been quite a while since I’ve had to do homework.
The last time was a couple of decades ago when my youngest kid asked me to help him write a report about something or other. My “help” led to me writing virtually the entire report while he played Super Mario Brothers. But, using all my skills as a professional writer, I turned out what I thought was a pretty decent product. The teacher gave him — or me — a C-minus.
With that in mind, I have mixed reactions about a Massachusetts elementary school’s announcement that it would not be giving homework assignments this year, but would extend the school day by two hours.
“We want kids to go home tired; we want their brains to be tired,” the principal of Kelly Elementary School in Holyoke told ABC News. At home, she said, “we want them to engage with their families, talk about their school days and go to bed.”
Apparently the value of not assigning homework is the latest theory in public education, which has a new latest theory approximately every other semester.
Author and education researcher Alfie Kohn says homework routinely produces frustration, exhaustion, family conflict, a loss of time for other activities and diminished excitement about learning. “In classrooms and schools where little or no homework is assigned, results have been extremely positive in terms of students’ academic performance as well as their attitudes about learning,” she declared.
Other experts disagree.
“I still think we’re in a situation in this country where we have a far greater problem of expecting too little — not too much — of kids, and homework falls into that,” countered Robert Pondiscio, senior fellow at an education policy think tank. “Homework may not lead to a higher grade on a test within six months, but it can encourage behaviors and foster skills that yield long-term benefits such as practice in time-management.”
Online opinions were almost universally opposed to the no-homework concept, with criticism such as, “And people wonder why students get dumber and dumber every year” and “Yet another nail in the coffin of education in America.”
Like just about every topic this year, it’s also become an excuse for campaign sniping.
“Hillary rarely did her homework in school. When questioned about it by her teachers, she either stated ‘I don’t recall’ or she blamed it on someone else being at fault,” one post declared.
“Trump paid other kids to do his homework,” another countered.
Eventually, the no-homework idea may be just another educational experiment that came and went.
Still, if teachers not assigning homework saves even one father the embarrassment of getting a C-minus, I’m all for it.