Homework

A young boy frowns sleepily while doing homework

As a rule, the point of homework generally isn’t to learn, much less to derive real pleasure from learning. It’s something to be finished.

The Homework Myth: Why Our Kids Get Too Much of a Bad Thing (p. 15) 
It’s time to stop giving homework
  1. Homework doesn’t necessarily lead to increased achievement.
  2. Homework is inequitable.
  3. Homework harms social lives and school-life balance.
  4. It reinforces ultra-competitive, harmful ways of living.
It’s time to stop giving homework

I’ll summarize four main reasons why homework just flat out doesn’t make sense.

  1. Achievement, whether that be measured through standardized tests or general academic knowledge, isn’t correlated to assigning or completing homework.
  2. Homework is an inequitable practice that harms certain individuals more than others, to the detriment of those with less resources and to minor, if any, improvement for those with resources.
  3. It contributes to negative impacts at home with one’s family, peer relationships, and just general school-life balance, which causes far more problems than homework is meant to solve.
  4. And finally, it highlights and exacerbates our obsession with ultra-competitive college admissions and job opportunities, and other detrimental faults of making everything about getting ahead.
This is why we should stop giving homework | Human Restoration Project | Chris McNutt

Eliminating homework is a necessary and research-backed systemic change that ensures students are able to be with their families, spend time with their friends, and play. There is not consistent data that homework actually helps students learn more, and the negative impact of taking away time at home is well-documented. Learn more in our Research Database.

Despite how commonplace it is to assign homework, its negative effect on children is well documented. We see that children develop a negative connotation with completing additional work, have less time to play at home, are increasingly frustrated with school, and all of this transforms family members into “enforcers” on homework. This leads to not only frustration from all sides, but a loss of a love of learning.

  • More homework doesn’t mean better test scores. American middle school students have more homework than their peers in Korea, Japan, and Taiwan. However, this does not correlate with test scores. Countries assigning the least amount of homework (Denmark, Czech Republic) had the highest international test scores compared to those who assigned the most (Iran, Thailand), which had lower international test scores.
  • There is rarely correlation with academic achievement and homework. Elementary school students saw no correlation, and any moderate correlation diminished after any substantial amount assigned in middle or high school.
  • Other factors matter much more than homework. Quality instruction, motivation, and class choices have a meaningful effect on achievement, but homework has no meaningful impact.
  • Homework leads to stress and loss of important family time. With the (often) hours that homework takes at home, over 50% of families noted that homework led to stress, struggle, and serious familial arguments.
  • Ending homework leads to new opportunities. When given time to explore the world around them and pursue their interests, young people are much more likely to develop lifelong goals and aspirations.
Why Sheet: Eliminating Homework (2022)

“There is no evidence that any amount of homework improves the academic performance of elementary students.”

The Homework Myth: Why Our Kids Get Too Much of a Bad Thing (p. 39) 

“Whenever homework crowds out social experience, outdoor recreation, and creative activities, and whenever it usurps time that should be devoted to sleep, it is not meeting the basic needs of children and adolescents.”

The Homework Myth: Why Our Kids Get Too Much of a Bad Thing (p. 16)

The most striking trend regarding homework in the past two decades is the tendency to pile more and more of it on younger and younger children.

The Homework Myth: Why Our Kids Get Too Much of a Bad Thing (p. 6 )

Many mothers and fathers return each evening from their paid jobs only to serve as homework monitors, a position for which they never applied.

The Homework Myth: Why Our Kids Get Too Much of a Bad Thing (p. 10)

Beyond its effects on parents and children, homework’s negative impact—and specifically the nagging, whining, and yelling that are employed to make sure assignments are completed on time—affects families as a whole. As one writer remarked, “The parent-child relationship. . . is fraught with enough difficulty without giving the parent a new role as teacher” or enforcer.

The Homework Myth: Why Our Kids Get Too Much of a Bad Thing (p. 12)

The more that parents helped with homework, moreover, the more tension children experienced—and without any apparent long-term academic benefit from the assistance.

The Homework Myth: Why Our Kids Get Too Much of a Bad Thing (p. 13)

homework reshapes and directs family interactions in ways that we have learned to expect but are troubling to consider.

The Homework Myth: Why Our Kids Get Too Much of a Bad Thing (p. 14)

“Children orient to homework as an organizer of their time, and a gatekeeper from other activities if there is homework to complete.”

The Homework Myth: Why Our Kids Get Too Much of a Bad Thing (p. 14)

Further reading,

Published by Ryan Boren

#ActuallyAutistic retired technologist turned wannabe-sociologist. Equity literate education, respectfully connected parenting, passion-based learning, indie ed-tech, neurodiversity, social model of disability, design for real life, inclusion, open web, open source. he/they