Friday, February 15, 2013

Editorial on French Homework Ban

I came across this editorial on the proposed homework ban in France. It is found in a newspaper from Trenton, NJ, quite close to where I live. Here's the link.

I wrote the following comment on the paper's website:

There are really two issues here. One has to do with disadvantaged children and one has to do with whether the elimination of homework will help "a single student."

The problem of homework exacerbating the effects of economic inequality on disadvantaged students is well-documented in Kralovec's and Buell's book, The End of Homework. They, and other homework experts, have highlighted that homework is ill-supported in the research. I would also add that homework is ill-taught (in fact not taught at all) in schools of education. So there is a problem in which a poorly researched technique that is not even taught to teachers when they get trained for their craft, can have such large implications on a child's future and grades. Further, the practice of assigning, collecting, grading, and dealing with homework noncompliance problems all takes away from the time the teacher has to teach in class.

On the question of whether the elimination of homework will help "a single student," there is simply no question that somewhere between 10 and 25% of all students (the number varying based on the degree of the child's homework difficulties) will be greatly helped if homework is eliminated. The reason for this is pace, an issue I discuss in my book, The Homework Trap: How to Save the Sanity of Parents, Students and Teachers. This issue is not restricted to economic differences, but is related to the fact that children do homework (and everything else -- run a race, brush their teeth, etc.) at varying speeds. Since the school day starts and stops with a bell, children can learn and perform within that time frame. In contrast, children are required to work on their homework until it is done. Those, at the slower end in pace of the homework-doing scale, will necessarily experience mounting amounts of homework (based on time, not volume) as they grow up, and they will eventually hit a point where that can't (and then won't) do it anymore. They get misperceived as being unmotivated and they react by displaying behavioral problems. It's a set-up for them to hate school, and it raises the risk that they will be drawn toward unproductive peer groups and dangerous behaviors when they become teens. Obviously, it is reasonable to have a discussion about how to balance the needs of these kids against the presumed benefits the other students garner by having homework. But to say that no child will benefit from a ban on homework is simply not true.

For more information on Dr. Goldberg's model, read other postings on this blog, visit his website, The Homework Trap, or read his book, The Homework Trap: How to Save the Sanity of Parents, Students and Teachers. 


1 comment:

eigerleadership said...

This looks great, I sooo need to try this soon! Thanks!
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