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Schools Banning Homework? 534

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the also-thinking-is-hard dept.
theodp writes "Alarmed by indicators of student stress like cheating and substance abuse, some SF Bay Area schools are reducing an education staple: homework. Homework is mostly banned at Menlo Park's Oak Knoll School, but some teachers apparently have higher 'expections' [sic]."
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Schools Banning Homework?

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  • higher expectations? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by farker haiku (883529) on Sunday March 04, 2007 @10:01AM (#18225940) Journal
    like good grammar? FTA: . Reading Log - children should be reading a minimum of 15 every night.

    Um. 15 what?
    • by tepples (727027) <tepples&gmail,com> on Sunday March 04, 2007 @10:03AM (#18225952) Homepage Journal

      Given the order of magnitude of what is expected of my little cousins, the 15 probably refers to 15 minutes.

      • by Jesus_666 (702802) on Sunday March 04, 2007 @10:28AM (#18226142)
        Given how some people are when they finish school it's probably more like 15 sentences.

        Or 15 minutes, whichever comes first.
        • by wasted (94866) on Sunday March 04, 2007 @01:42PM (#18227652)

          Given how some people are when they finish school it's probably more like 15 sentences.

          Or 15 minutes, whichever comes first.


          By assigning units to the number 15, you stifle the individuals self-determination and possible hurt the individuals self worth, which is not the goal of the San Francisco area schools. Students attending San Francisco area schools should not have standards in place that can make students feel that they are unsuccessful. To that end, requiring specific units such as sentences, words, minutes, letters, seconds, etc., can only hurt the self-esteem of those who cannot achieve the 15 unit minimum.

          First, I am not a proponent of unneeded homework. However, in all seriousness, I lost all respect for the San Francisco Bay area schools in the mid-nineties. At one point, there were complaints that the schools had no standards for graduation. The schools came up with standards such as "Graduates shall be able to solve problems through compromise", without any hard, measurable standards, such as being able to read, write, add, or recite any history. I remember thinking "Wow, if one kid thinks 2+2=4 and one thinks that 2+2=6, do they compromise and select 5 as the solution?" Around the same time, the teachers across the Bay were trying to get Ebonics recognized as a language so that more teachers could collect an extra 10% salary for being bilingual. And a professor at Berkley was seen on the news protesting against a bill for removal of minority hiring preferences, saying that she would not have "gotten the job" if it wasn't for those preferences. I was happy that I was moving soon, so my newborn daughter wouldn't be raised in that educational environment.

          Hopefully, those educated in the Bay Area can tell me that I just heard all of the bad press, and the schools are much better than I believe.
          • Once I applied for a teaching position at a community college in Washington State. One of the essay questions on the application was "Please describe how you are equipped as an instructor to deal with a diverse student body with different socio-economic backgrounds and ethnicities," or some such nonsense. I was honest, and replied that such factors didn't matter in my classroom, and that everyone would be evaluated on the quality of their work. Needless to say, that's the wrong answer. Next time I'll be sno
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by farker haiku (883529)
      boy there are some real gems in there:

      8. Special Projects - occasionally there will be projects that the children will work on at home with instructions as to when they need to come back to class.

      Teacher, teacher can I have a special project so I don't have to come back to school until it's done?

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by FreeUser (11483)
      Um. 15 what?

      Fifteen words. To go with their fifteen second attention span, and their fifteen minutes of fame for being the dumbest of the dumb on the next generation of reality television shows. It could also refer to the resulting IQ of perfectly intelligent people passing through that particular gem of an educational system, after 12 (maybe 15?) years of concentrated dumbing down.
    • by mikael (484)
      Um. 15 what?

      Slashdot article discussions?

  • Expections (Score:3, Insightful)

    by leamanc (961376) on Sunday March 04, 2007 @10:04AM (#18225956) Homepage Journal
    I'd be pulling my child out of that school with their "expections," not only due to their poor grammar, but also for their militant view on homework. Or maybe things have just changed a lot since I was in grade school.
    • Re:Expections (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Macka (9388) on Sunday March 04, 2007 @10:24AM (#18226108)

      Lucky you. You obviously have the luxury where you live of being able to choose which school your kid goes to, and have a wealth of choices available so you can move him/her from school to school at a whim.

      I'm not sure either that your kid would thank you for flipping his/her learning and social life on it's head so quickly.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by UncleTogie (1004853) *

        I'm not sure either that your kid would thank you for flipping his/her learning and social life on it's head so quickly.

        We military brats did/do it all the time, every 2-4 years... What, your kid's head will explode if he/she's faced with a new environment?
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Eivind (15695)
        True. Lots of people have little or no real choise of schools. Luckily learning ain't limited to school though, the brigth kids will tend to learn most stuff *outside* of school anyway. Most stuff I know was never taugth in any school I attended (or I knew it before it was taugth) I'm sure if you think back this'll apply to you too.

        It's no excuse for bad schools, but it does mean brigth kids are capable of learning a lot *even* with bad schools.

    • by enharmonix (988983) <enharmonix+slashdot@gmail.com> on Sunday March 04, 2007 @11:05AM (#18226376)

      I'd be pulling my child out of that school with their "expections," not only due to their poor grammar, but also for their militant view on homework. Or maybe things have just changed a lot since I was in grade school.
      They have. We call it "spelling" now. :P

      Cheers.
  • by not already in use (972294) on Sunday March 04, 2007 @10:05AM (#18225960)
    How come the ol' "My homework is driving me to smoke pot" trick didn't work when I was in school?
  • by Brahmastra (685988) on Sunday March 04, 2007 @10:07AM (#18225978)
    These helicopter parents whining about homework need to take their kids and shove them up their ass. It looks like they never wanted to release their kids anyway....
  • by rlthomps-1 (545290) on Sunday March 04, 2007 @10:08AM (#18225980) Homepage
    I didn't have homework for most of elementary school. In fact, I remember when we finally did start getting it in the sixth grade, and then it was less than 3 hours a week or so. Is dumping lots of homework on kids these days a new thing or did I just go to some hippie school? I think an important part of my development was to have time to do kids things, and even learn and explore on my own. If I'm spending all my thinking time on the things that they want me to learn, where am I supposed to get any creativity?
    • by Zephiria (941257) on Sunday March 04, 2007 @10:22AM (#18226086)
      From my experience, homework is used as a tool by bad teachers to teach their lessons. We had the a pretty bad Math's teacher, his idea of teaching was to provide a brief summary and then tell people to just do an entire chapter of problems as homework. Easily 2 hours work, especially as the problems got longer and longer. in my experience the class time broke down to this, 40 mins overall. 5 mins getting the class together, into the class room sorting things out etc 10-15 mins correcting and looking at homework etc. Then say 5 mins explaining something and the last part of the class finally the remainder of the time is spent assigning more homework and people maybe getting one or two of the problems done. The real problem with excessive homework is that people tend not to finish it, and far to much useful class time is eaten up either assigning more or correcting what was assigned the previous few days. Of course if you take my experience and spread it over the other 8 or so subjects we had it ended up being highly stressful and more then anything left a number of people uninterested in the subjects as they became more and more burned out on the subject.
      • by Dr. Spork (142693) on Sunday March 04, 2007 @01:28PM (#18227526)
        I definitely remember doing grade-school homework. I had to; everyone did, especially in Math, because things moved really fast. But that was only before I came to America.

        When I arrived in the US, I realized my fellow 5th graders had no idea about geometry, sets and a whole bunch of other mathermatical concepts that I thought were completely basic. In 9th grade geometry, they basically made me repeat the math I learned in 4th grade. And I'll admit it: I was totally baked in very many of my geometry classes and it was still an easy A.

        But what I really wanted to say is this: I don't dispute the results of the study. I can easily imagine that homework doesn't help American students do better at the American grade school curriculum. That's because in America, the slowest kid in the class sets the pace for everyone else, and that kid dosn't do homework anyway. No wonder it takes no work to keep up! But we absolutely can aim higher standards. Kids are capable of learning a lot more than people expect. Many can learn Calculus before they enter high school. Homeschooled kids with competent mentors do this all the time. My dad was teaching calculus when he was 16 (his dad taught math and there was no other qualified sub in their little town).

        If doing homework doesn't show any benefit in how kids do in school, that screams to me that whatever they're doing in school is messed up. I suspect they dumbed down everything so that doing homework doesn't teach you anything you didn't already learn in class. Now (surprise, surprise!) they release a study showing that doing homework doesn't help you perform in class, and they react to it by cancelling homework. How stupid! Why don't they instead set higher goals in school, so that you would learn something important when doing homework?

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by wanax (46819)
      I attended several elementary schools. The main one didn't give out homework until 6th grade (Bank Street, NYC), the school I went to in VT (Marion Cross) started giving homework in 3rd grade, the school in Berkeley (Cragmont) had homework in 1st grade, and I briefly went to a school in Bristol, England (Christ Church) that had minimal homework in 1st grade.

      Of these schools, only Cragmont had heavy homework loads or emphasis at any point. I think that the problem with that, however is that I never formed th
    • by Jesus_666 (702802) on Sunday March 04, 2007 @10:48AM (#18226250)
      Well, normally homework is supposed to work like this:

      1. The teacher spends N lessons teaching the kids something new (N usually is between 1 and 5)
      2. The students get homework repeating what was done in class (It is known that repetition is an important part of learning)
      3. The teacher spends N lessons exploring the deeper areas of the current topic (N between 1 and 3)
      4. The students get homework that either repeats the new stuff and/or requires them to apply their knowledge to problems that don't follow the scheme seen so far
      5. UNTIL test GOTO 3


      Some teachers, however, do it like bad university professors:
      1. The teacher spends one lesson talking about the subject, boring the students to death
      2. The students get a ton of homework where they do the actual learning
      3. UNTIL test GOTO 1
      ...at least the professor has tutors to back him up.
    • hippie school (Score:3, Interesting)

      by poptones (653660)
      I think you must have just gone to one of those hippie schools. Like me. You know, one of those schools where they had freaky programs like art and music and history class actually taught something about the constitution. Most young people I meet today not only haven't a clue how a piano works, they seem to have no familiarity with the bill of rights, either.

    • by zotz (3951)
      Without reading the article, but going from what I think I see going on...

      I have these issues with homework:

      1. Giving homework that the child can't do and that the parents have to do for them. (I see this a lot.) (Or that the child will get a bad grade for if they do it on their own.)

      2. Homework that will take too long to do properly.

      3. Too much too young.

      There may be others, but that is off the top of my head.

      all the best,

      drew

      http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=zotzbr o&search=Search [youtube.com]
    • by conureman (748753) on Sunday March 04, 2007 @01:46PM (#18227688)
      I thought it was all part of the "No child gets ahead" Act. When my son was promoted to the second grade (early on in his first grade year as he was already reading), he started doing homework right away. By the third grade, it was about three hours every night. In the sixth grade it was five hours a night and starting to cause real big problems. Interesting thing was most of the students seemed to be majoring in (and failing) remedial esteem and civility training. In the eighth grade we finally got to select an elective course, though still no foriegn languages offered. We chose Drama. It seemed good to finally get him into something other than drudging along with the slowest non-thinkers at the school. Alas, it turned out to be remedial reading course in disguise, only the students were reading through scenes from plays rather than the modern "Dick and Jane" stuff. I always suspected that high-achieving students were being mainstreamed in a feeble attempt to bring up the standardised test scores that their funding seems to depend upon. (Buy more Lotto tickets, chumps!) My son came to dread the phone calls from his apparently simple-minded "Study Buddy" and would beg me to say he was unavailable so that he could complete his own homework. Now he's a freshman at a private high school. (Long story, BTW, he went from tops in his class to near the bottom- but he's adapting.) Now, I generally have to to tell him to go to bed around midnight, sometimes I catch him still doing homework at 2AM. And weekends too. Needless to say, all the song and dance was beaten out of him by the third grade, the drawings and paintings I found so delightful trickled to a halt by the fifth, and now I'm starting to worry about his health. I personally think that a lad of fifteen should be out after school doing the Tarzan/Huck Finn stuff that looms so large in my memories of youth. I'm not sure what the goal of all this is, but I think we may have found the dark side of "Democracy".
  • This is pathetic (Score:2, Insightful)

    by bryan1945 (301828)
    "They already do 6 hours of work in school... can't give them more work... blah blah"

    How about we wipe their tushies and tell them they won't have to work hard to make something of themselves? Howabout just have them skip college (whole lotta more school work plus paying work)? Just tell them that a real work day is only about 6 hours, and you never have to take some work home with you, or stay late to finish that work so you don't have to take it home?

    Why does it seem that the USA is progressively skimp
    • by Rosco P. Coltrane (209368) on Sunday March 04, 2007 @10:13AM (#18226032)
      How about we wipe their tushies and tell them they won't have to work hard to make something of themselves?

      Yes I agree, but remember, these are kids, they also have a childhood to live. Performance and the rage to be the first in everything should be something they gradually come to expect as they age, otherwise you get kids that are stressed out, mis-adjusted and nerdy.

      What I mean is, there's a balance to find between too much homework, with parents on their kids' back all day long, and lazy kids who don't do jack squat. But at any rate, kids shouldn't be expected to work they butts off like adults do.
      • by hyfe (641811) on Sunday March 04, 2007 @10:43AM (#18226212)

        Performance and the rage to be the first in everything should be something they gradually come to expect as they age
        .. or never. It's really not a necessicity for a working society for every child to be raised to be a mal-adjusted competition-driven asshole. It's true!
      • Balance (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Smackintosh (1009941)
        I agree that balance is key to slowly moving children into the different stages of life, and getting them acclimated to the real world. Ultimately, they will be able to stand on their own as independents.

        What I'm curious about, is how have things changed since I was growing up (I'm 35) for an average child, and how much the day-to-day school experience differs from what I was brought up in (I went to private, Catholic schools)?

        I will say that I recall having a low work vs. play and recreation ratio i
        • Re:Balance (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Rosco P. Coltrane (209368) on Sunday March 04, 2007 @11:39AM (#18226650)
          I agree that some form of elitism is good, i.e. bright kids and kids who perform better deserve to get more rewards and get to better colleges than others. On the other hand, if elitism is the only thing driving the school system, then you end up with anxious parents who push their kids too hard and generally end up making their lives a misery.

          You say your parents and teachers encouraged you to try your hardest, and it gave you a willingness to be better. That's great, and ideally that's what should happen. My parents on the other hand pushed me so hard I just didn't do anything outside schoolwork. If I didn't get the best grades, I was punished, "good" grades didn't exist for them, just "best" grades. I can remember those moments vividly, even today as an adult. How did that help me? it didn't, it just ruined most of my childhood.

          The other thing is, when parents drive their kids into a success death march, they end up missing totally what the kids might or might not be good at. I for example did advanced studies in math, physics and CS. I hated every minute of it (apart CS) but I completed the studies because my parents would be "so disappointed considering my abilities" (so they said). In reality, I wanted to work with my hands, and I realized only very late in life that that's what I really wanted. Not "could do", but "wanted to do". The end result is, today I'm a metalworker because *I* chose to.

          The challenge for parents is to make their kids understand that they have a duty to perform well at school, while at the same time cutting them enough slack to let them be happy during their childhood and find their own way, and realize that a good student and happy student in "lowly" studies like woodworking or metalworking is better than a bad or stressed out student in Harvard or MIT.
    • by timeOday (582209) on Sunday March 04, 2007 @10:23AM (#18226104)
      Your comment has a strong tinge of "I had to do it so they should have to do it."
      But you ignore a key statement of the article:

      "A University of Missouri study found high school students benefit tremendously from homework. In middle school, the results were not as strong, but homework was still found to be beneficial. But on the elementary school level, the same study found homework had no effect on students."

      What is your rebuttal? And are you comparing yourself in highschool to kids in elementary?

      Personally, I do think life is getting awfully institutionalized. And remember, we're not just talking about what's ideal, but what the state should force upon our kids. School is mandatory.

    • Re:This is pathetic (Score:4, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 04, 2007 @10:26AM (#18226120)
      Is it any wonder that India and Japan (I am sure there are others) are surpassing us in general academic


      I don't know about India, but I do know about Japan. Kids study their nuts off to learn exactly what they need to pass university entrance exams, which are really tough. The university courses that follow are, with a VERY few exceptions, exercises in mediocrity with degrees that are trivially easy to do well in. No wonder there are two generations of extremely frustrated people, birth rate dropping, marriage age rocketing, the part time labor sector expanding rapidly. Most people below 30 know they've had a bad deal. Those above were already employed when job-for-life-in-exchange-for-industrial-servitude was ripped away from them. So Japan's not a good comparison, it's in its own little education and workforce hell right now.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Firethorn (177587)
        I wouldn't forget a suicide rate so high that their 'death by deliberate human action'(IE Murder and suicide combined) is higher than the USA's.

        It's so bad that the train companies charge the family for clean-up after somebody jumps in front of a train...
    • You assume that the more work gets done, the more learning gets done, which I would argue is not always the case for grade-school homework, especially in mathematics and spelling. Most of the tasks assigned are repetitious beyond what most students require. Why write words down hundreds of times if you can spell them correctly after 10? Mathematics is even worse, because once you discover the pattern that an arithmetic operator takes, all of the problems being asked become special cases. More than once I si

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by don'tyellatme (837496)
      Why does it seem that the USA is progressively skimping on education? Is it any wonder that India and Japan (I am sure there are others) are surpassing us in general academic, and therefore work, achievement? Because homework is not educational. The Homework Myth by Alfie Kohn is a great read on this subject. Be prepared to have your assumptions challenged.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        Because homework is not educational. The Homework Myth by Alfie Kohn is a great read on this subject. Be prepared to have your assumptions challenged.

        Spoken like a true leftist high-school idiot who has never learned from their homework.

        When you go to college, if you study (for example) Computer Science, and if your school is any good at all, you will have assignments requiring you to write programs which use particular data structures and which perform certain algorithms to work with them. You will probab

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Fnkmaster (89084)
      I don't really remember receiving much homework at all when I was in first and second grade. Definitely by sixth grade, a reasonable amount. I came out just fine - didn't turn me into some sort of lazy, whining wimp that I didn't have much homework when I was a little kid.

      Things are different in highly competitive private schools and top public school districts these days. I see my little cousin in fourth grade doing 2-3 hours of homework, having 2 hours of after-school activities every evening, and a tu
  • by digitalderbs (718388) on Sunday March 04, 2007 @10:08AM (#18225984)
    This is silly. Homework is an important requirement in learning. The clear solution is 30 mg of Prozac a day. This has the added bonus of promoting abstinence. Win-Win.
  • Expections is a perfectly cromulent word.
  • Why on Earth... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Alicat1194 (970019) on Sunday March 04, 2007 @10:10AM (#18225998)
    ...do first graders need homework? Surely the first few grades of school are for getting the basics down, rather than attempting to cram as much as possible into the kids' heads?
  • Here [oakknollschool.com]'s a list of teachers and the email naming convention if you feel someone should contact her and/or her supervisor. Alternately you can point out that she's about to go to her 40th high school reunion [cougartown.com] and should be retiring anyway.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by adrianmonk (890071)

      Alternately you can point out that she's about to go to her 40th high school reunion and should be retiring anyway.

      Boy, I do not follow that reason at all. Most people graduate from high school at age 18 or so, so a 40th reunion would make someone 58 years old. I see no reason at all why someone who is only 58 necessarily should be retiring. It's a perfectly reasonable age to retire if you've already saved up enough money not to need to work, but then so is age 35, but there is no reason someone shoul

  • Please note that TFA says they're only reducing homework to near zero for elementary school students:

    The changes have come as a University of Missouri study found high school students benefit tremendously from homework. In middle school, the results were not as strong, but homework was still found to be beneficial. But on the elementary school level, the same study found homework had no effect on students.

    So if there's really no measurable benefit to doing homework in elementary school, why give them hom

  • Good (Score:5, Insightful)

    by 0racle (667029) on Sunday March 04, 2007 @10:13AM (#18226026)
    Maybe teachers will start doing their jobs now. Too many ended up just not wanting to deal with kids at all, they just told their students to sit down and shut up for an hour and then assigned homework that should have been covered in class.
  • by Aladrin (926209) on Sunday March 04, 2007 @10:14AM (#18226034)

    I wonder how they are going to explain the drop in grades? Probably blame it on the teachers or some such.

    Homework exists to reinforce the learning from the schoolday. It is not punishment, and it is not surplus work to keep the devil from taking over their souls.

    As much as I hated homework (even moreso because I learned very well during the class), I have to admit that it does reinforce the learning. It's the 'doing' that reinforces the 'learning'.

    • by Rick Zeman (15628) on Sunday March 04, 2007 @10:45AM (#18226220)
      I wonder how they are going to explain the drop in grades? Probably blame it on the teachers or some such.

      Oh hell no...they'll blame it on being "underfunded."
    • "Homework exists to reinforce the learning from the schoolday. It is not punishment, and it is not surplus work to keep the devil from taking over their souls."

      Well, if so, how about this:

      maintain an A average and you can choose to do your homework or not, turn it in late if you like, or whatever? Doing it will give you a cushion should you have a bad test result - a bit of insurance so to speak.

      You have demonstrated that you do not need the reinforcement as you are getting it in class, you get a bonus.

      all
  • wait wait this shit gets better. From the About the Teacher page:

    I grew up in central Connecticut. I graduated with a B.A. from Elmira College in Education and Psychology. After several years of teaching and then working in the Rare Book Room at Syracuse University, I decided to return to graduate school, receiving a M.L.S. from Syracuse University in Library and Information Technology. In 1978 we moved to Boston and I was accepted into a Master's program ar Harvard University where I received a Ed.M. in R
  • Moo (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Chacham (981) on Sunday March 04, 2007 @10:19AM (#18226068) Homepage Journal
    Homework, sheesh, its amazing what happens when people try to be nice but stop thinking..

    It used to be that there were three groups of kids in a clasroom. One was average, one was above average, and one was below average. The teacher taught to the average group. The above average kids got bored, but hopefully were given more work if they enjoyed it. The lower than average kids did work at home in order to keep up with the average. All was good.

    Then we decided to be nice. So, instead of letting the lower-than-average kids deal with being such, we'll teach to their level so everything can be done in school. Well, that left most of the kids bored, and the nostalgic feeling of homework was going away. So, they started giving homework to everyone.

    Parents liked homework too, because it occuppied their kids time for them. So teachers gave more, and than the kids complained or rebelled. It's just plain sad.

    One of my teachers did it best. He wrote an assignment on the board every day at the beginning of class that was due the next day, and then proceeded to teach it. As soon as you understood it, you stopped listening and started on the work. The lower-than-average kids needed help, so the higher-than-average helped them when they were finished with it themselves. There was rarely homwork for anyone, unless they needed it to keep up with the class (and that was known by whether they could do the work in class.) I consider that teacher the best one. He gave work for learning it, not just to give it.

  • by Elentari (1037226)
    I've never attended school in the US, but going to Primary School in England was something I never associated with what's usually defined as homework. The most I had to do there was learn some spellings, practice some multiplication tables and do the occasional bit of research for a project.

    Kids are under increasing stress to outdo their peers in the rush for university places. I'm feeling the pressure at A Level, and I've no doubt that kids younger than me are sick of it as well. It's not just homework,

  • by krswan (465308) on Sunday March 04, 2007 @10:22AM (#18226084)
    Homework is not a requirement for learning - practice is. With 6 hours a day of school, minus 1.5 - 2 hours a day for lunch, fine arts, etc... my students need more time to practice long division, work on drafts of their writing assignments, and read about science and social studies. I focus on more interactive learning during my classroom time, so I send reading and practice home as homework.

    A better system would give students time each day, or at least a few days a week, in supervised study hall. Staff it with student teachers or assistants capable of helping with questions (which parents often can't). A longer school day with me would work too.

    The real issue is that all too often homework is given because it is expected by parents, and is just busywork. The "I had lots of homework as a kid so my kids should too" attitude of some parents is not beneficial. Homework shouldn't be a punishment or given just because teachers are supposed to. The question is, what do students need to learn what they are supposed to learn?
    • But would you agree or disagree that the amount of work listed in this article's teacher's weekly homework list was excessive for 2nd graders? I know by 5th grade I had homework that I was expected to do along the lines of what you have suggested, but I don't recall any significant homework in 2nd grade besides perhaps a list of spelling words to review for the weekly spelling test.

      While I think children need to learn and homework helps reinforce their in-class education at home, I also think they need to
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by krswan (465308)
        It would depend on the actual writing assignments, book reports, special projects. I don't think that a couple of math practice sheets a week, reading 15 minutes a night (probably a student - selected book) and going over vocabulary words is excessive. I don't think that 2nd graders should be spending more than 1/2 hour or so outside of school doing homework, and I don't think they should ever be given work that isn't directly related to current classroom lessons. I've known 2nd grade teachers to give 3-
    • by bcrowell (177657) on Sunday March 04, 2007 @01:06PM (#18227318) Homepage

      I went to second grade in the Menlo Park school district, the location of Oak Knoll School, which is described in the article. I went to Willow School. I don't know how much has changed since 1973, but back then, it was a low-income area, with really horrible schools. I remember learning to flake loose paint off of the buildings with a pin at recess. They had a government-subsidized breakfast program, and my parents offered to pay for it, but the school thought they were just being proud, and told them it was really OK. There was not much learning going on. The teacher would play records, read books to us, and give us toys and comic books as prizes for good behavior. There was no homework. One big reason we moved after that year was to get me out of that school. However, even though the next place we landed was much more affluent (I went to Forest Grove School in Pacific Grove, Ca.), there was still no homework.

      Today, I have two kids in grade school, and I do think they get too much homework. (A lot of it is busywork, like word searches, or 50 arithmetic problems when 10 would have done it.) My impression is that the school assigns a lot of homework because the parents expect it. Real estate has tripled since we bought our house here, and I think large amounts of homework reassure affluent parents that their kids are getting a good education. Also, the area is majority Korean, so the culture leans that way too.

  • by Jartan (219704) on Sunday March 04, 2007 @10:23AM (#18226092)
    I was about to say this is a good thing because frankly the problem is that teachers don't freaking teach anything in class anymore. Some of you who are older might not realize how bad it is but classrooms have been dumbed down horribly by the lowest common denominator problem. Basically the instructor is lazy or has to explain things really slowly such that any halfway smart kid will just go to sleep. They then make up for it with stupid amounts of homework.

    So reducing homework and maybe making teachers actually teach sounds good at first though but then I remembered all the busy work. So how about instead of making our kids waste a full 40 hours a week sitting in class snoozing we give them less school and actually make sure they do their learning at home at their own pace.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by MadMacSkillz (648319)
      "Teachers don't freaking teach anything in class anymore." Really? I work in the public school system. I'm in schools every day. Are you? No? Then shut the f*ck up. Generalizations like "Teachers don't" label you an idiot anyway.
  • by farrellj (563) on Sunday March 04, 2007 @10:27AM (#18226130) Homepage Journal
    And today, when they start giving homework at k12, one really wonders what it is about...helping the children learn, or attempting to prove to the parents that they are trying to educate the children? There is no scientific proof that homework generically helps grades. Additional work, especially with a teacher, on the other *does* improve grades...I wonder if the North American school system is trying to substitute homework for time with student and class sizes?

    ttyl
              Farrell
    • by giorgiofr (887762)

      Homework has never been proven to improve grades

      Yeah and practice has never been proven to improve skills either.
      When you "get" a subject and know you understand it, you need to sit down and practice for a while. Understanding how a math problem is solved is very important, but actually sitting down and solving 4 or 5 samples of increasing complexity nails it down for good.
      Otherwise you end up like some people in my class who, at the age of 18, did not "remember" how to solve 2ng grade equations while everybody else was discussing calculus.

  • Sweden (Score:2, Interesting)

    by karji (114631)
    I read somewhere that schools in Sweden (at least in the '80s) didn't give homework. How true is that?
  • by rindeee (530084) on Sunday March 04, 2007 @10:51AM (#18226264)
    assanine, I do see a problem with the homework load kids have in lower grades (as many others have pointed out). My son is in 4th grade, my daughter in Kindergarten. While my daughter doesn't have much homework to speak of, my son does, and has since 1st grade (in the same school as my daughter) have at least 1 - 2 hours per night. He's a very bright kid, but I see him often times burning out due to sheer load. Sadly, most of it too seems like busy work. I think this is a very damaging trend in education today. Sure, highschool and college brings a heavy work load, but at a time in your life where you have the ability to look ahead in order to see the value in it. My son on the other hand is at the age where life is very much about the next 10 minutes. Things are broken.
  • All he gets is 'stuff unfinished in the class', no interesting new things. When there is homework extra to classwork it can typically be done in half an hour and is trivial.

    So we have a system in place. He earns time on the computer by studying. Currently this study is classical physics, previously it's been history, mathematics, animation (via blender) anything we felt is useful to know. By this method we manage on average five to eight hours independant study for him a week, most of which relates to scho
  • but it must be both interesting and developing. The point is that homework should be tasks that normally not can take place at school, but instead be associated with features on the way to the school or at home.

    Everyday tasks can be assigned, and the point should be for the pupils to open their eyes to everyday applications of their skills. Reality is an intermix of skills, and that means that even though the task may be for biology it will require writing skills to actually document.

  • by antifoidulus (807088) on Sunday March 04, 2007 @10:56AM (#18226306) Homepage Journal
    they just shouldn't GRADE homework, well IMO anyway. One of my favorite profs in college always assigned us homework but never collected it. Why? His philosophy was that he would know if you were actually doing your homework by how you did on the test. He would assign problems then publish the solutions on the web. And when you went to his office hours you could ask him ANY question you wanted to about the homework. Other profs who grade homework would always dance around certain questions because they didn't want to "give away the answer". What BS! I learn as much, if not more, from trying problems and being able to see my mistakes then by making sure I need to do everything perfectly all the time. Profs would usually post answers to the homeworks, but unless I made copies of what I did, I wouldn't get the homework I handed in back until weeks afterwards. By then many of the lessons have already been forgotten.

    Isn't grading by both testing AND homework implying that people cheat on homework? If you believe that everyone is honestly do their homework, then the homework should show whether or not they trully understand(not MEMORIZE per se) the material. Or if you have tests then don't collect homework because the students will have to prove their mettle on the test anyway. I think it would be great if classes had either only test or only homework/discussion grades. Each would work better in certain situations, but the whole idea of having to be perfect all the time without being able to consult reference materials or collaborate with others against the spirit of education. Also, it doesn't represent the "real world" at all. I know bridge makers aren't allowed to make mistakes, but all bridge designs have to be signed off by several people and they are allowed to collaborate with co-workers and several people have to inspect the design and put their own reputation and even wallets on the line when they sign off on the design. This isn't allowed on tests or even homework theoretically. So why grade it?
  • As a teacher... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Wellington Grey (942717) on Sunday March 04, 2007 @10:56AM (#18226308) Homepage Journal
    Speaking as a teacher, I agree with this move. The problem with homework (at least in the schools where I have worked) is that it is expected to be graded and counted toward the overall academic progress of the child. This is an issue because as a teacher I cannot trust that the work done at home is the child's own. Aside from the easy things to catch like copying there are a myriad of parents and tutors who will use homework to artificially boost a child's grades.

    Homework should be used for practice, but not count for the final grade.

    -CGP [colingregorypalmer.net]
    • the grading? Have the student get 2 grades. The first would be a grade at school and the second is the grade of homework? That way, the parent can see what the real difference is. Of course, that will leave some parents to be upset, but just explain to them, that you prefer to grade their child, not the parents work. :) Sadly, some parents will still not take the hint.
  • Children in other counries attend cram (make-up classes) schools as standard practice (not extraordinary) They do that day-in day-out six days a week. Could we have become so weak and decrepit mentally that we cannot put up with some additional studying? This is ridiculous.
    People are begininng to treat kinds (and themselves) as if they were fragile. We are not damned fragile as a species. If we had been so mentally fragile we would have not survied so long --we would have curled up and died many millen
  • by Ziggurat Dan (876294) on Sunday March 04, 2007 @11:01AM (#18226346)
    I've been an upper elementary teacher for eight years (my wife's been for 12). I have come to learn that homework benefits very few kids in the classroom each year. The upper kids, who don't need the extra work, do it splendidly, and have parents who check it over and help them with it. The lower kids rarely finish it, or do it sloppily, and more times than not have parents that are too busy or too unconcerned about their kid's homework. The middle kids, well, some DO benefit from doing it, but it takes an effort from the family for it to be successful in the long run. Many times, however, the kids who need the extra work would be MUCH better off in my classroom getting the help from me. It puts the learning in context of the lesson that introduced it instead of having a parent help who hasn't been in fifth grade in thirty years.

    We've come to expect that our kids do tons of homework each and every night, and I have many colleagues who parrot that idea. When I press them as to why, they basically tell me that they need to practice doing homework. Rarely is the question answered that the lesson needs to be reinforced or whatnot.

    We're in the day and age of "No Child Left Behind" (NCLB), the current incarnation of educational reform that has been around since the sixties. I live in an average-to-slightly-upper middle class neighborhood, and the vast difference among my students academically is astounding. 1/3 of my kids in the classroom have IEPs (Individual Educational Plans, which have goals tailored to the individual, and you must follow them, even if it was written in another district before the student moved to yours), and gathering homework on a regular basis from everybody is time consuming due to the amount of kids not doing it to the different expectations NCLB has forced.

    The reality is that very few parents are willing or able to help at home. Kids are overextended with activities (kids are doing extra-curriculars at an all-time high), or they're latchkey, or they're in daycare for extended time. I usually get done in FIVE minutes one-on-one what could be done in half an hour at home, and of course I take that route when I can. I've moved on to pushing some work back to the next day instead of giving it for homework (yes, I still give homework, just not nearly as much as when I started, and now it's mostly reading), due to the fact that while they are learning skills they should have an opportunity to learn it from a person that is getting paid for teaching it, and it highly qualified to do it (yes, there are teachers who are not highly qualified, or highly motivated, but that's for another thread I think).

    Kids who don't finish something in a reasonable timeframe in the classroom will have more homework than those who do. It's easy to tell, once you get to know the kids, whether they don't understand or are malingering. I do, however, like to give reading homework for many reasons. For one, it helps them become better readers, and they actually DO IT, especially if they self-select the reading. Another reason is that, in my grade, I encourage the kids to read with parents or siblings. I get a lot of feedback about how that has been good for the family as a whole over time.

    I can't speak to the upper grades, but I know many teachers who see the same thing (the kids who can do it already, the kids who can't at home, and the middle ground) in middle school and high school. There's no easy answer, but looking back at the history of education, there was an extended period (covering DECADES) where there was virtually no homework for the kids. I wouldn't say a blanket "no homework at all" for the upper levels, but I'd certainly be in favor of limiting it to an hour or less. Just food for thought.

    Yeah, probably switched topics too much, but I have no time to re-read this because I have essays to grade...

  • this is not a bad idea. There are many examples of where kids are trying to improve themselves and where the adults of the world push them a lot harder than they really should be pushed. You see 7 yr old actors that work 6 hrs a day on the set, or 9 yr olds that can out iceskate anyone in their city. (think jr olympics) Encouraging a kid to spend all their spare time doing any one thing is a waste of their childhood. I don't see why homework is any different than that. Sure, studying is time well-spent
  • Homework (Score:3, Funny)

    by Rorian (88503) <james.fyshNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Sunday March 04, 2007 @11:22AM (#18226506) Homepage Journal
    I no did homework four school and me smart today
  • by q2k (67077) on Sunday March 04, 2007 @11:30AM (#18226566) Homepage
    One wonders if the 2nd grade teachers at Menlo Park ES have ever actually raised a 7 year old themselves. The average 7 year old has an attention span of about 15 minutes. I've raised 2 myself, and coached hundreds of others in both basketball and baseball. The cognitive skills these teachers seem to expect simply are not there yet. The idea that you can give them a weeks worth of homework on Monday and expect them to remember to bring in Friday without mom helping is ludicrious. The only way it is going to happen is if mom and dad help them schedule out the work all week, and then personally put it in the backpack Thursday night. Even with that, a lot of the kids will walk out of the house Friday morning without it if mom isn't there to hand them the backpack on the way out the door. Punishing the kid for being a normal 7 year old is simply cruel.

    It seems as though the school has outsourced reading, handwriting, math, and spelling to mom and dad. What exactly are they doing all day in school?
  • by llamaxing (895844) on Sunday March 04, 2007 @11:36AM (#18226630) Homepage
    I just graduated high school last May, so I understand this system of homework. I'm also in the military, so I understand what it's like putting in long hours and a good work ethic. (just establishing my credibility, folks)

    Homework, I feel, is essential in some areas, especially in mathematics and science. I found myself earning higher grades on tests and quizzes when I did the homework. It's a great way to practice the material studied in class. What didn't help is my parents did not know the material. I had to go online a lot and research tips and other educational materials on my own to help me understand better.

    This may be a little off topic, but I feel it needs mentioning. The school system nowadays, as I have experienced it, are focusing more on getting students to pass the yearly standardized state test. The HSPA (NJ) and TAX (TX) tests were all we were prepared for as well as the AP* exams in my advanced courses. Granted, it is in our best interest to pass, but when you're in AP English IV looking for grammatical errors in sentences for two dittos/sheets, back and front, and you spend two days on the material, all because it's on the state test, there's definitely a problem.


    *AP stands for advanced placement which is the equivalent to one college semester of that course; see Advanced Placement [wikipedia.org], College Board [wikipedia.org]
  • by gozar (39392) on Sunday March 04, 2007 @12:08PM (#18226864) Homepage
    The studies have shown that homework reinforces bad habits and does not teach responsibility. There have been several books written about the subject, especially at the elementary levels [slate.com]. By the high school level, students should be assigned some homework.

    The teachers are in a hard place. Teachers will have parents complaining about giving too much homework, while parents in the same class will complain about not enough homework.

  • by melted (227442) on Sunday March 04, 2007 @01:39PM (#18227626) Homepage
    It prepares kids for 10x the stress levels that they'll receive once they're on their own. Homework is also good - it keeps kids off the street and off the TV. Life's hard, little folks. Deal with it.

    US public schools suck as it is. If they also abolish homework they'll be even more of a laughing stock for the rest of the world and in 10-15 years US of A will be paying dearly for this decision. I bet kids in China, India and Russia don't dare to open their mouths about getting too much homework.
  • by Paul Fernhout (109597) on Sunday March 04, 2007 @02:02PM (#18227828) Homepage
    From:
        http://www.worldtrans.org/whole/schoolteacher.txt [worldtrans.org]

    "After an adult lifetime spent teaching school I believe the method
    of mass-schooling is the only real content it has, don't be fooled into
    thinking that good curriculum or good equipment or good teachers are the
    critical determinants of your son and daughter's schooltime. All the
    pathologies we've considered come about in large measure because the
    lessons of school prevent children from keeping important appointments
    with themselves and with their families, to learn lessons in self-
    motivation, perseverance, self-reliance, courage, dignity and love and
    lessons in service to others, which are among the key lessons of home
    life.

                Thirty years ago these things could still be learned in the time
    left after school. But television has eaten up most of that time, and a
    combination of television and the stresses peculiar to two-income or
    single-parent families have swallowed up most of what used to be family
    time. Our kids have no time left to grow up fully human, and only thin-
    soil wastelands to do it in. A future is rushing down upon our culture
    which will insist that all of us learn the wisdom of non-material
    experience; a future which will demand as the price of survival that we
    follow a pace of natural life economical in material cost. These
    lessons cannot be learned in schools as they are. School is like
    starting life with a 12-year jail sentence in which bad habits are the
    only curriculum truly learned. I teach school and win awards doing it."

    Homework only makes the problem worse!
  • damn (Score:4, Funny)

    by SQLz (564901) on Sunday March 04, 2007 @02:11PM (#18227900) Homepage Journal
    Its hard enought to get a good raid party going in World of Warcraft without eliminating a huge portion of the player base due to homework.
  • by Runefox (905204) on Sunday March 04, 2007 @02:28PM (#18228046) Homepage
    All through high school, one of my teachers kept saying, "If they did away with homework, and both shifted the start time and extended the day by an hour, we'd get so much more done." - And it's true. We could have finished the curriculum maybe a month or so earlier than expected, which would pave the way for either more advanced subjects or more time off between study periods, which equals rested and ready students.

    Of course, this is the high school level I'm talking about, an age group that generally doesn't "wake up" until midday anyway. I know *I* was a zombie until about 10:30 AM. Actually, I still am...

    But anyway, the only "homework" I can see as being necessary is studying, and learning to study, which is absolutely necessary when the college/university level hits. When I went through school, I don't think - or at least, I don't recall - that it was ever actually taught (or it was taught in a backwards way), and as a result, I never developed good study habits - I'm guessing my classmates, excepting those who developed their own, were in a similar boat.
  • by mark-t (151149) <markt@@@lynx...bc...ca> on Sunday March 04, 2007 @04:06PM (#18228884) Journal

    Stress is part of working in the real world. If they don't learn how to cope with stress when they are kids, what are they going to do when they try to make it in the workforce?

    While I don't think that kids should be put through unnaturally highly stressful conditions with unrealistic expectations, the pressure of dealing with deadlines with serious consequences for failure is just how the real world works, and to not give children the opportunity to develop their own mechanisms for coping with the stress of being in such circumstances is setting them up for probable failure in the future.

    If you don't try to get a person to stretch a person past their own comfort zone, they cannot reasonably be expected to grow. Homework accomplishes this.

"Even if you're on the right track, you'll get run over if you just sit there." -- Will Rogers

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