Monday, September 25, 2006

Elementary-school students shouldn't do homework. By Emily Bazelon - Slate Magazine

Slate has a nice summary of three new books that argue that homework is a waste of time. The books claim that all the studies fail to show any lasting benefit to kids. Alfie Kohn's book The Homework Myth, while more controversial, is the "meatier read", according to the reviewer. Harris Cooper's The Battle Over Homework is more balanced, but still concludes that there is no evidence homework makes a difference.

Without reading the books, my initial take is that this is not inconsistent with Judith Rich-Harris' claims that nurture by itself is a poor lever of influence over how kids turn out. The fact is that some kids, in some schools do phenomenally better than other kids in other schools. Ironically, the fact that schools and peers care enough to assign it might be more important than the homework itself. From the review:
"It has been drilled into our collective psyche that rigorous schools assign rigorous homework," [a school principal] wrote. "I recognize that this is a ridiculous thought process, particularly since your research suggests otherwise, but it's hard to break the thinking on this one. How could we be a high-achieving school and not assign homework?"

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