Just in time for the new school year, the great homework debate is boiling over again. Harris Cooper, a noted education researcher at Duke University, has co-authored a new study finding that elementary school students gain little from most homework assignments, and that excessive amounts of homework might even be bad for middle and high school students. In his new book, The Homework Myth, education gadfly Alfie Kohn is even more strident. He calls for the complete elimination of homework, which he blames for stress, family conflict, and slackened student motivation. Other education experts believe that the problem isn’t homework per se, but the types of assignments teachers give—or are forced to give—and a general lack of clarity about the purpose of homework. “What should homework be?” ponders Dororthy Rich, founder of the Home and School Institute. “In the biggest parameter, it ought to be help kids make better sense of the world. Too often, it doesn’t.”
A version of this news article first appeared in the Web Watch blog.