Many elementary students in PWC Schools receive copies of a magazine called “Time for Kids”. The magazine contains news related articles about topics that are interesting to children and written at a level they can understand.
One feature is the “Debate” section, which presents a topic and opinions from subject matter experts on that topic. The topic this month was Homework for the Holidays and discussed whether homework is or is not necessary.
Janine Bempechat, associate professor of Human Development at Wheelock College, was the subject matter expert cited in the article in support of homework. She writes, “A good many students see a break from school as a break from learning, but actually, learning does not stop when the school building is closed. Unfortunately, many students have a lot of experience with homework that is boring (think math worksheets), and from which they feel they are not learning. Their gut reaction is a justifiable dread and resentment of homework over a school holiday, especially if the assignment is mind-numbing.”
Alfie Kohn, author of The Homework Myth and other books about education, was the subject matter expert cited in the article opposed to homework. He writes, “Some experts wonder whether homework is necessary at all. People who say it helps you learn better may not realize that scientific evidence doesn’t support this belief. There’s actually no proven benefit to doing homework, at least before you get to high school. That’s why many teachers – and some schools – don’t give any homework.”
Children who read this article will take two bits of information away from it: (1) math worksheets are mind-numbingly boring and unnecessary, and, (2) homework is a waste of time. Debating the merits and value of homework is expected among parents and education professionals, but this article appeared in a magazine distributed in the schools to 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade students. It’s one thing for adults and teachers to have this debate, but is this topic really appropriate for our 9 and 10 year olds?
If you’re as appalled by this as I am, please send a note to the editor of Time for Kids expressing your concern. The address is firstname.lastname@example.org.