Sunday, February 10, 2019

Excessive and Irrelevant Homework Leads to Learning Decline

(Ice slabs from the River Raisin)

The best book I am reading in 2019 (so far) is The Coddling of the American Mind: How Good Intentions and Bad Ideas Are Setting Up a Generation for Failure, by Greg Lukionoff and Jonathan Haidt. 

I'm in chapter nine, "The Decline of Play." Outdoor physical play has declined in the lives of American children. This is bad for child development. 

One reason for the decline in outdoor play is the increase in homework, which leaves little time for play.

This was a major reason for pulling one of our children out of the public school system. We did homeschooling instead. Linda (B.S. in Education) and I (PhD) are perpetual students who love learning. But we have never been big on piling on loads of homework as educative. Lukionoff and Haidt write:

"In contrast to the decreased time spent in play between 1981 and 1997, that same time-use study found that time spent in school went up 18%, and time spent doing homework went up 145%. [!!!] Research by Duke University psychologist Harris Cooper indicates that while there are benefits to homework in middle school and high school, provided it's relevant and in the right amount, achievement benefits in elementary school are smaller, and homework that isn't realistic in length and difficulty can even decrease achievement. Yet elementary school students have seen an increase in homework over the past twenty years. Some schools even assign homework in kindergarten. (Leonard Skenazy told us that when she asked her son's teacher why homework was being assigned in kindergarten, the teacher responded, "So they will be ready for homework in first grade.")" (p. 185)