February 26, 2018

Rethinking Homework

Rethinking Homework by Jane Lee

When my kids were in middle school, I looked extensively for research to support the efficacy of homework and there is shockingly little to support it. Looking through the national educational research database (ERIC), these two pieces of info stood out: 1) The only subject improved by homework is math; and, 2) Homework has been identified as the leading (yes, #1) cause of at-risk kids dropping out of school (they have no support at home and struggling with homework made them believe they were dumb). The largest documented benefit of homework was with after-school programs in inner city schools with an adult present to answer questions.

There is much to be said on this subject but one issue stands out – America is falling behind in math and science.

Looking at the issue from a different perspective, we put a man on the moon during an era when daily homework was far less and computations were done with slide rules. Additionally, children’s time in front of screens was limited to scant TV programs and an occasional movie theater.

In a little over the 40 years since Neil Armstrong first stepped on the moon, we have added screens to children’s lives in an overwhelming fashion. Riding in a car, walking down the street, and sitting in a bedroom all involve a screen now.

Looking honestly at the number of hours children sit in front of a screen may hold a clue to our crisis in education and global ranking.

Jane and her husband have two teenagers.  She is also the founder of godsheartandhands.org

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