The Legitimacy of Homework

The Legitimacy of Homework

Nicholas Silva, Layout Editor

Homework, the entity which all students dread. From the earliest days of elementary school, it is ingrained into children’s heads that homework is vital to success, and a necessary evil in school. But is it really? Now, a war on homework is being waged, challenging the trend that has existed for decades, moving into position to reshape the learning environment.

Some argue that homework not only supports academic performance, but promotes healthy life lessons such as responsibility, independence, and even work ethic. However, Alfie Kohn -a graduate of the Ivy-League Brown University- argues that not only is this an utter fallacy, but that homework has next to no benefit in any area whatsoever. In an interview with TODAY, the prolific author argues that homework undermines the student. He says, “It causes frustration, unhappiness, and family conflict; it often makes children less excited about learning and leaves them with less time to pursue other interests and just enjoy their childhoods.”

While some students might even seek homework as a way to practice skills, it is abused. Homework in moderation can be useful as a tool to gauge a student’s proficiency in a topic that has been covered in school, but that is rarely how teachers use it. More often than not, teachers assign mountains of homework, drowning students with math problems, history facts, and grammar. Sometimes, it even seems like the teacher is using homework to enact revenge upon a bad class or group of students, with some teachers even admitting to this.

A deluge of homework is not beneficial to begin with, however, that is just the beginning. Normally, homework is assigned to gauge performance or review a lesson from that day of class, however a new trend is making itself apparent in some classes. Assigning homework to gauge a student’s aptitude in a subject before the material is even taught. This is an especially harmful practice, adding additional stress upon the student, and prompting them to toil for an exorbitant amount of time. If they even decide to complete the assignment, they are likely doing the work wrong, and therefore the wrong way of doing the work is either cemented in their head, or will undermine the legitimate lesson, if it is even forthcoming.

In fact, having no homework is shown to have perhaps more benefit than the material itself. One school in Burlington, Vermont, recently banned homework for elementary students, suggesting that they use the time instead to read and play. One parent of a kindergartner at the school, Orchard Elementary, soon declared that “[his son] can read now and that he doesn’t need any help. So, something is working.”

Homework is a tool. Like any tool, it has wonderful applications, but also like any tool, it has much room for error and misuse. Homework should be used to help the student, not punish them. It should be reasonable, restrained, and not constantly assigned. If teachers can modify their homework distribution and composition, they would be doing students -and frankly themselves- a huge favor, cutting down on frustration, and even raising classroom moral. This is not to say that homework shouldn’t have a little challenge, but it should not be a Herculean task.

So, homework is a problematic issue, prompting undue stress and disconnection from family and enjoyment amongst students. Some teachers are catching onto this reality, but any real change is not likely to materialize soon. On a closing note for students: if you have homework, just try your best, and if the material is unreasonable, try talking to your teacher because while they are assigning it, they are often understanding and might not have realized quite what they were expecting.