August 29, 2016

"There will be no formally assigned homework this year. Research has been unable to prove that homework improves student performance."

"Rather, I ask you spend your evenings doing things that are proven to correlate with student success. Eat dinner as a family, read together, play outside, and get your child to bed early."

The second grade teacher Brandy Young wrote to the parents. The letter has gone viral.

What do you think of the teacher's approach? (Multiple answers accepted.)
 
pollcode.com free polls

98 comments:

AprilApple said...

You are smart if you are lazy. No homework. Safe spaces with images of frolicking puppies at major colleges...

All part of the big plan.

Kate said...

Ten (10!) negative choices, one mostly ironic positive choice.

I vote: good for Brandy, teachers should try new ideas, I don't facebook.

Brando said...

So she doesn't get the difference between "correlation" and "causation". Having dinner as a family is going to make these kids understand math better? No wonder foreign countries' kids outperform ours.

Not that homework itself does much good--as a kid, I always thought homework was just something teachers assigned that proved they couldn't do their job during school hours. But there obviously is something to be said for assigned reading and problem solving, and giving the students a better basis for the next day's lessons.

One of the bigger problems holding them back is the long summer break--a couple months off and starting fresh in new classes often means playing catchup. Adjusting the school year might help.

protestmanager said...

1: She's right
2: 2nd grade kids reading with their parents is better for everybody than them reading alone.
3: The kids reading alone is better than a lot of other things they could be doing.
4: Homework for 2nd graders is insanely stupid

Sebastian said...

White teacher? I detect White Privilege. Lots of assumptions here. Parents, eating dinner as a family, reading to kids. Who does she think she is?

Just as there is lots of research on homework, there's lots of research on (variable effects of) summer breaks, family structure, etc.

Paul Snively said...

At the university level, there are some suggestive early results with inverting the lecture/homework relationship. That is, the lectures are recorded, and students watch them at home according to the class schedule. In-room class time, then, is devoted to working on exercises, collaboration, and interactive feedback with the instructor. This seems, at least preliminarily, to be a better process than the traditional one, in which the opportunity to follow lecture material away from the instructor was unavailable.

mockturtle said...

Second graders don't need homework. They need to play outside, when possible. Reading should certainly be encouraged but not assigned at that age.

David Begley said...

How do race and politics figure into this? Those two topics dominate everything in modern American life.

Michael said...

Homework in the second grade is absurd. A little bit in third, maybe, and then fourth. Let them be kids until they're 10 or so. Of course some families will find the other things harder to do, but assigning 8-year-olds homework will not make up for that. And those families that do manage these other things, at least some of the time, will find that their own kids grow up feeling at least a little bit privileged. I don't see what race has to do with any of this, except statistically.

Dave said...

Parent of a 3rd grader, 1st grader and preschooler here.

She's right.

My kids--all of whom are decently well mannered and behaved and have received the highest possible scores for their age levels--turn into monsters at homework time.

Each school night, sometime between 6 and 8, our house turns into a scene of some kid crying or pouting and either my wife or I losing our tempers.

Each night we ask each other, is our kids' school trying to cause divorces?

BAN ELEMENTARY SCHOOL HOMEWORK NOW!

That's a cause I could get behind.

(I am all for 30 minutes of reading alone or with a parent each night. It's something we do anyway, even all through the summer. Admittedly, after the 1-1.5 hour homework debacle, we sometimes allow them to skip the nightly reading.)

Tari said...

You missed an option:

This is awesome. 2nd grade homework is worthless busywork. Parents need to stop rushing their kids through life and let them be kids for 5 minutes.

That's the only one I'd vote for.

southcentralpa said...

At Second Grade, it sounds about right. I choose that poll response ...

SukieTawdry said...

Gee, I did all that stuff and homework. How much homework does a second grader get, anyhow? I have the idea these kids will spend their "free" time more on video games than playing outside or reading.

TreeJoe said...

Dealing purely in elementary education here, but in public school there is approximately 3-4 hours of active classroom instruction or educational immersion in a ~7-8 hour school day. Strip out the breaks, transition periods, getting up to speed/closing out, meals, recesses - that's what we've got left.

This is then administered haphazardly and often in large-class environments.

The point is not that more education is needed - it's that kids don't need 2-3 hours more at night to get the job done. They just need good, short bursts of appropriate experiences combined with time and environment to absorb the information in the way they do best. Some kids learn by reading, others by talking about it, others by writing about it, others by hands on application (depending on subject). That's hard to be flexible in school besides multi-modality teaching of a single subject, but it's easier to do at home. That's where parents come in.

Dave said...

@SukieTawdry

Last year my 2nd grader had at AT LEAST an hour of homework EVERY school night.

My wife and I have regretted picking such a highly-rated school district.

n.n said...

The teacher is unfamiliar with the function of learning systems. This deficit can be overcome with attentive parents, but then why pay the exorbitant price of public education? She is right in one respect. The closed loop between family, teachers, and student.

Marie said...

Homework for 2nd graders tends to be homework for parents. Not that the parents do it FOR the kid but the homework is structured to include the parents. Homework didn't make sense until about middle school, unless it was to practice math problems and to read a chapter. In grade school, it was generally something that involved markers and a late-night trip to Hobby Lobby for poster board.

CStanley said...

The norm around here from first grade on is spelling which gets assigned on Mon, due on Fri, and Math worksheets 2-3 times per week, plus reading (either free choice reading on the honor system or AR reading with required number of comprehension quizzes.)

For my older two who had some special needs it was a nightmare but so far it's working fine for my first grader. Seeing our oldest struggling in college I'm hopeful that little #3 is developing better habits right from the start.

The thing is, at almost no time has the homework has been too intellectually challenging for my kids (who range from high average to above average IQ) but the two who had mood, anxiety, and social struggles were just too exhausted to deal with anything at the end of the school day. Even aside from homework, every afternoon was a meltdown, and I attribute it mostly to the horrible social setting of public schools. # 3 is now in a Catholic school, with more homework than she would be getting in public school and getting home late after a longer school day and long commute, but she's fine. Is that just her temperament and maturity level, or the school setting with less social stress? I think probably both.

Also not sure what the answer is systemically. The habit of doing practice work each day is good to develop at an early age, but a large number of kids are going to struggle as my first two did and for those kids a break would likely be more helpful.

buwaya said...

"OpenID protestmanager said...
1: She's right
2: 2nd grade kids reading with their parents is better for everybody than them reading alone.
3: The kids reading alone is better than a lot of other things they could be doing.
4: Homework for 2nd graders is insanely stupid"

OpenID protestmanager is entirely correct.
I'll go further, too much homework is a huge fault of US K-12.
Moreso as in most places grades are largely dependent on it. It rewards the diligent, which is good in its own way, but it doesn't have much to do with mastery of the material.

CStanley said...

I would add that every teacher we've dealt with has said that the homework they assign is not meant to take more than "X" minutes (usually 20-30, depending on the grade and the teacher.) If it is taking longer, we've been told to contact the teacher.

The biggest problem was usually when wildcard assignments like projects got thrown in. Plus, the elementary schools are all starting to have the kids taught different subjects by different teachers (usually home room teachers cover math and reading and there's some switching for science and social studies.) often it doesn't seem that the teachers coordinate their lesson plans, so all of a sudden there's a science project due the same day as a math quiz and history test.

Mark said...

Our second grade teacher last year had it just right - just standard weekly spelling tests and 1/2 hour daily reading.

However, when our kid decided to become a social butterfly after they rearranged desks, she brought home stuff regularly as she wasn't completing everything in class.

Took a couple weeks of her sending that stuff home and my daughter got her work done in class again. Seems like it taught her a useful lesson, as well as giving extra practice at math or writing.

To be honest, the variance between teachers in terms of homework, strictness, and personality I think helps my kid realize that sometimes you have a tough year/teacher/boss and you get through it.

Scott M said...

So...no scientific basis that practicing different types of the same math problem doesn't reinforce the lesson being taught?

Somehow I doubt that.

Paddy O said...

I vote for Tari's choice and entirely agree with TreeJoe. We have homework because school tends to be very inefficient. I got bad grades in high school because I only rarely did homework. I did well on tests, quizzes, writing assignments. But I'd spend 8 hours a day being herded around, and being an extreme introvert, my batteries were emptied by the time I got home. The higher I got in the education world, the stronger my GPA because the more freedom I had to learn in my own style.

The biggest problem is there really isn't a one-size-fits all solution. Some kids do well with homework. Some kids don't need it. Some kids need the discipline of it.

I learned in my Masters study that my best time for reading and thinking is the morning. Rather than being pulled every which way to do this and that and the other thing everyday, in graduate school I could read and write in the mornings.

Schools are as much daycare as they are education, but then they insist the education spill out into every part of life.

The brain needs rest as much as any other part of the body. Take an evening off, take a sabbath, a brain responds much more efficiently.

Paddy O said...

"So...no scientific basis that practicing different types of the same math problem doesn't reinforce the lesson being taught?"

I don't think the argument is that practice is worthless. It's more that students, especially elementary students, can get practice enough within the school hours. Using classroom/school time more effectively is better than spreading out the work throughout the day, thus interfering in other important elements of pyscho-social development.

Ann Althouse said...

"2nd grade homework is worthless busywork."

Worthless busywork is worthless, but why are people purporting to be teachers if they don't know how to give valuable, age-appropriate homework?

Why shouldn't a second grade have a sheet of arithmetic problems to do? Maybe a good essay question for writing or a poem to memorize. A poem that is not crap but worth remembering, as I remember poems I read at that age, like:

HOW do you like to go up in a swing,
Up in the air so blue?
Oh, I do think it the pleasantest thing
Ever a child can do!

Up in the air and over the wall,
Till I can see so wide,
Rivers and trees and cattle and all
Over the countryside—

Till I look down on the garden green,
Down on the roof so brown—
Up in the air I go flying again,
Up in the air and down!

Paddy O said...

"why are people purporting to be teachers if they don't know how to give valuable, age-appropriate homework."

Because they are mandated to do so by administrators. And often parents, who gauge education worth by amount of work.

Teachers, left to their own devices, would almost certainly give very little homework.

Ann Althouse said...

"It's more that students, especially elementary students, can get practice enough within the school hours."

Their time in school should be used much better, and no child's time should be wasted, but I think a value to homework is that it teaches organization skill and personal responsibility. Not everything is done under a watchful eye.

Yancey Ward said...

I wouldn't dare have an opinion without observing what she does in the classroom.

On first principles, I would think homework for 2nd graders is likely a waste of time and effort, as long as the instruction in the class is sufficient. I could certainly think of both good and awful reasons she takes this stand against homework. If the classroom is lots of interactive problem solving, then I think homework from the teacher is superfluous. If the classroom is just lecture and demonstration, then homework is probably a necessity for mastery.

Ann Althouse said...

"Because they are mandated to do so by administrators."

If something is part of your job, you should figure out how to do it well, especially when you are having an effect on children.

It is not acceptable for a teacher to say, I'd prefer not to give homework, but I'm required to give homework, so I'll give worthless busywork as homework.

I might think, if I were a second grade teacher, that the in-class reading should be nonfiction, so that kids could learn valuable information as they read. But if I were nevertheless required to have fiction-reading time in class, I would work hard at finding some great and rewarding age-appropriate fiction to read.

If the reading or homework is chosen by someone other than the teacher, then my complaint is directed at whoever is doing the choosing.

Gusty Winds said...

My kids born in 1999 and 2002 were bombarded with homework in grade school. It was ridiculous. Whenever I would go to a parent teacher conference, I would ask, "whatever happened to the practice of pass your paper forward"?

I didn't have homework until 7th grade. That was in 1981. Kindergarten through 6th, when I got out of school, I was out.

A good choice in the survey would be, "This teacher is brilliant and realizes busy work and too much homework for young children can create a diminishing return".

SukieTawdry said...

An hour of homework for a second grader does seem excessive, Dave.

CStanley said...

I loved Robert Louis Stevenson's poems. My kids roll their eyes at me because any discussion of the fluctuation of daylight hours with the seasons leads to me reciting the first verse of Bed at Night:

In winter I get up at night
And dress by yellow candle-light.
In summer, quite the other way,
I have to go to bed by day.

Greg Hlatky said...

If little second-graders Jason or Megan don't have 3 hours of homework every night, how are they going to get into Harvard?

Fernandinande said...

It's not her position to tell parents how to raise their children

Raise 'em up flag-free cuz someone might be offended!

TRAVELERS REST, S.C. – School officials’ decision to ban students from displaying the American Flag at a recent football game is creating controversy in a South Carolina school district.

"On Friday, Travelers Rest High School principal Lou Lavely banned students from carrying American flags into a football game against Berega High School, because a lot of students at Berega are Hispanic. Lavely contends the American flag could have been used to taunt those students, WNCN reports."

IOW, Hispanic = not American and offended by America.

Diversity is our perversity.

oopsy daisy said...

For crying out loud. These kids are in 2nd grade. 7 years old. Why do you want to load them up with WORK. Hours of homework in the evening instead of being able to be a kid. Go outside and play with friends. Spend time with family.

School should be a pleasurable learning experience. Not a drudgery that lasts not just all day at school but one you have to take home with you.

Maybe a homework assignment once a week that would be creative and fun and reinforce what they are supposed to be learning in school. Not hours every night. Geez the kids might as well get a job in a factory and make some money if you are going to make them toil night and day.

eric said...

It's 2nd grade. Who cares?

Wish that were an option.

Jessica said...

Am I the only one who took it as a personal challenge to finish as much "homework" as I could during school hours? Worksheets done, free time achieved. Granted, I was a nerd without a social life, and ignored a lot of teacher lectures during class to read, work ahead.

Unknown said...

This may be true for second grade, they don't learn much from homework. But maybe they learn to sit down and do homework, which hey'll have to do in later years.

Brando said...

"Am I the only one who took it as a personal challenge to finish as much "homework" as I could during school hours? Worksheets done, free time achieved. Granted, I was a nerd without a social life, and ignored a lot of teacher lectures during class to read, work ahead."

I certainly did--there were plenty of breaks during the day and even during a slow class to knock out some of the assigned work. It'd relieve me of the need to bring as much (or anything) home and it'd mean when school was out, I was freed up for the day.

My brother, on the other hand, apparently had an unending supply of homework that he procrastinated with and made high drama over, just so no one in the family was unaware that he had tons of work to do and we were going to suffer with him.

FullMoon said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Marc Lowenstein said...

there is another choice:

She is reacting to the fashion in current education that dictates assigning too much homework to very young students, homework that has little demonstrable benefit. The tone of her letter might be a bit goopy, but she is trying to cut through that pressure.

Char Char Binks said...

To those of you who say the teacher is shirking, you have it exactly backward. Teachers have children for 7 hours a day or longer, and they're shirking when they don't teach them in that allotted time and expect students to make up for it after school and on weekends.

The original justification for homework was to give poor children the advantages that the rich had with their culturally richer environments, but it only burdened the poor, and everyone else, with more work and more stress, especially those children who had actual, necessary chores to do at home, including farm work.

Homework turns what is usually a pretty long school day, especially for very young children, into a never-ending slog. This is one reason some people never learn some very valuable but non-academic skills that many used to learn from their parents, or from having hobbies and joining clubs. When children DO have free time, many are so burned out on anything that requires brains that they spend their time on mindless diversions.

Finland has discontinued assigning homework. That, among their many educational reforms, has produced the best educational system in the world.

Lem said...

The answer is...none of the above.

"Homework hurts the planet via the constant pencil sharpening... Think globally act locally."

RichardJohnson said...

I don't recall having any homework when I was in second grade. I did a LOT of independent reading in second grade and in subsequent grades. Reading was better than homework, as reading wasn't something imposed from above. As my family didn't get a TV until I was in third grade, reading was one of my main entertainments.

My father, who turned his childhood hobby into his profession,was quite successful at his profession. He had the free time as a child to pursue his hobby. It was time well spent.

A half century ago, my father commented when I was in high school that in assigning ever-greater loads of homework, schools were quashing individual initiative.

Will said...

Recent studies show that the biggest failures of all are children that retire to their studies with multiple 6-pound briefing books while playing Sports Center softly in the background and munching on 7 lightly salted almonds (only seven, never 6 or 8) . These students prove woefully unprepared for tests and fail repeatedly to show mastery of subjects.

JaimeRoberto said...

Students today get way too much homework, far more than I had as a kid. It's like some teachers measure their skill by how much homework they assign. Meanwhile in many high achieving countries, like Japan and Finland, kids get very little homework. In Japan the school day is longer which allows them to complete more work in class, which seems like a worthwhile tradeoff for everyone.

Hagar said...

And then they come to college with no idea of how to study.

Chuck said...

Professor Althouse, I haven't been able to vote in any of your recent polls because of your cheekily-crafted response choices.

I get it; honestly, I do. But at some point the "fun" aspect no longer exists if it defies any response at all.

For the record, I find (a) your post fascinating and worthwhile and (b) the basic notion of an Althouse opinion poll to be fun an interesting and (c) your pwm declining to offer any personal moralizing to be laudable.

I'd have suggested some more tips for parents:
~Don't get divorced this school year;
~Don't get incarcerated;
~Attend regular services in an organized religion;
~Severely limit television and especially social media on electronic devices;
~Pay very close attention to your child's friends and their families.

Chuck said...

Not "pwn"; should be "own."

Richard Dolan said...

I was trying to imagine the demographic that this teacher was dealing with. I'm guessing solid, working parents but very much in the middle of the American income/educational achievement spectrum. As you move away from the middle, towards either end, her approach is probably not going to work (albeit for very different reasons depending on which end of that spectrum you are dealing with).

T said...

So she doesn't subscribe to the axiom that "Practice makes perfect." It would be karmic if she ever needs surgery that that her surgeon also dismissed "practice makes perfect." Bet she'd change her mind quickly.

Unknown said...

I'm with kate: I vote: good for Brandy, teachers should try new ideas.

Birches said...

I have three at an academically rigorous school and I still don't know why parents get so bent out of shape about homework. My oldest is in 5th grade. They have math and reading and spelling homework almost every night. My kids come home, have a snack, play for a bit and then do homework. I don't help at all. They are always done by dinner. Then the rest of the evening is spent doing whatever they want.

You notice how I didn't mention sports practice or games? This is the real reason most people feel stressed about homework.

And really what happens if your kid doesn't finish homework. Does it go on a permanent record or something? Stop freaking out.

Henry said...

11 choices in the poll. 10 are critical. 1 is positive to the point of sarcasm.

I didn't vote.

She's right about the homework, up to a point. School generally has it backwards. The information in lectures can easily be learned at home. Homework should be done in the classroom where the teacher can assist students with problem solving.

EMD said...

Your poll answer options are shitty, ma'am.

Henry said...

Reading backwards, I see Paul Snively addressed the inversion of lecture and homework, and Kate noticed the slant of the poll. Kudos.

Mary E. Glynn said...

You notice how I didn't mention sports practice or games? This is the real reason most people feel stressed about homework.
-------------------

I think the gym teacher needs to assign your child some homework...

(Notice how I didn't say extra reading at home? The school will decide how your children spend their spare time with you. Sorry if you want some independence for them... get them up and moving already!!)

Mary E. Glynn said...

Why shouldn't a second grade have a sheet of arithmetic problems to do? Maybe a good essay question for writing or a poem to memorize. A poem that is not crap but worth remembering, as I remember poems I read at that age, like:

HOW do you like to go up in a swing,
Up in the air so blue?
Oh, I do think it the pleasantest thing
Ever a child can do!

Up in the air and over the wall,
Till I can see so wide,
Rivers and trees and cattle and all
Over the countryside—

Till I look down on the garden green,
Down on the roof so brown—
Up in the air I go flying again,
Up in the air and down!
------------

Why don't you have the energy to ferret out that poem and teach it to your own children on your own time?

Then, other parents can do the same for their children.

Why do you think if the school doesn't tell you to do it, you can't teach your own child on your own time? All of our children must read that assigned poem because it meant something to one parent in the class? #CommonSenseFail

Mary E. Glynn said...

Marc Lowenstein said...
there is another choice:

She is reacting to the fashion in current education that dictates assigning too much homework to very young students, homework that has little demonstrable benefit. The tone of her letter might be a bit goopy, but she is trying to cut through that pressure.
---------------------

Parents: Take Back Your Children! (and your Schools!)

Mary E. Glynn said...

EMD said...
Your poll answer options are shitty, ma'am.
------------------

Hush now...
She's the TEACHER.
Don't question her.

Mary E. Glynn said...

Blogger Hagar said...
And then they come to college with no idea of how to study.
-------------------

They need to bring their helicopter-hovering parents with them, to help with the "homework".

Hagar said...

Classroom time is for covering what is not in the textbooks.

Achilles said...

Our education system is exactly what you would expect from a bureaucratic agency:

More homework is better.
Hide from and undermine standardized tests.
avoid assessment of progress whenever possible.
8 hours of school time with about an hour of actual instruction.
Eliminate standards at every opportunity.
Crush individuals and force the group to stay together.

Most importantly make sure that schools are separated into wealthy and poor and do not let the poor children out or give them any Choices.

Tari said...

Professor, the poetry idea appeals to me; memorizing and reciting are skills kids can use in a variety of situations. Besides, it's fun, and as you said, you still remember the poems years later ("at winter I get up at night, and have to dress by candlelight..." was my favorite) But from what I saw at my sons' public elementary, homework was just one dumb worksheet after the other. My older son had such contempt for the worksheets, he would fling them over his head as he finished them, and then pick up the pile behind him when he was done.

Our younger son's (all boys' Catholic) school has the students memorize and recite lots of poems and speeches. If you're interested in how much poetry a 3rd grader can memorize, check out the first kid on this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=39BViTGfMQ8.

Mrs Whatsit said...

Bless her heart.

I couldn't pick the last choice in your poll because I never share that kind of stuff on Facebook, but I do think it's wonderful. There's no reason for second-graders to be doing homework. By the time I was done raising three children, all of whom are now professionals who are beginning to raise children of their own, I had come to despise homework. I'm not talking about high-school-level studying for the bio test or writing up your lab reports, I'm talking about elementary school work sheets or middle-school "response essays." Almost always useless busywork like crossword puzzles with the names of famous authors or some damn thing, eating up the evenings so there wasn't time for pleasure reading or playing outdoors or lying flat on your back staring up at the sky watching the clouds come out, so much pressure on an 8 year old or a 10 year old every night when there ought to be some time in a kid's life to be a kid. I don't think they learned a darned thing from it other than to hate useless busywork, and the true purpose of most of it was to pad out the teachers' lesson plans so it LOOKED as if they were teaching, even when they weren't. Ugh. I want my kids' childhoods back.

mockturtle said...

Yep. Memorization is easiest for the very young. I still remember poems I learned and songs I sang when I was five years old.

Mrs Whatsit said...

And, having read the comments now, let me add in response to Althouse: reading a great, transporting, inspirational work of fiction (and yes, there are plenty of them for second-graders) is acquiring worthwhile information.

Unknown said...

Excellent idea, I wish my kid's school had adopted this idea.

virgil xenophon said...

I grew up in the 40s and 50s and attended Eastern Illinois Univ Lab school. Of course we had student teachers galore, a separate teacher each for penmanship, voice (singing) art, and P.E. and the entire facilities of the univ (library, science bldg, etc, ) at hand. I don't remember ANY homework assigned grades 1-8 except for weekly spelling tests grade 2-4? This was also the norm (iirc) for most public schools of that period as my Mother was a 2nd grade teacher in the public schools. Must have worked, as my generational cohort achieved the highest avg SAT in hist., peaking in 1963 and scores have been in free-fall ever since despite oodles of homework..

I should also add that every attempt was made to integrate all fields in the study of single subjects. Thus in our 3rd grade study of China we painted a colored chalk mural of different aspects of Chinese life, saw historical films on pre WW II life in China, put on a Chinese play (at the stage/sound room in the basement in the Univ Booth Library) replete with the traditional "invisible" propman, dressed in black, etc., carved our own chopsticks and cooked a trad chinese meal and ate it. That year also saw a study of the American Indian in which we wove Indian rugs on our own looms w. colored yarn, accomplished another mural on the life of both East Coast and Plains Indians and our teach, who was a pottery hunter in the summers in the American SW brought her museum-quality collection to school for display. Fourth grade concentrated in a like manner on fish and sea life while Fifth on both Canada and Mexico. But NO mountains of homework..

Lawrence Winans said...

The teacher is correct. While I have not conducted a survey of the research literature (I have a life), my opinion is based on my own experience. Having been a student in the days when homework was NOT assigned in elementary school my parents, working-class folks who read the newspaper daily, watched the evening news, subscribed to a weekly news magazine, bought books and discussed current events with me as a youngster did a pretty good job without having had post-secondary education themselves. I went on to college and law school all without the motivation of regular elementary school homework. Give the kids a break, and let them ease into homework in middle school and high school. For that matter, let the teachers go home at 5:00 pm, they'll be fresh the next morning and better at a very hard job.

Freeman Hunt said...

The school already has the children all day. Why encroach on the home?

What about other interests? What about hobbies? What about playing? What about daydreaming? What about things the students families might want them to learn? What about things the families might want to do together?

Fortunately, there is an option for parents at this age: opt out of the homework. Grades in second grade don't matter. At all. Politely show the teacher the studies demonstrating that homework offers no benefits at that grade level. If the teacher still assigns homework, politely inform the teacher that your child will not be completing it due to other interests and family time.

virgil xenophon said...

Following on my thoughts, 4th grade saw us complete a watercolor mural about sea-life that was so long we had to stretch it out on the floor of the central hall to work on it. When finished it was mounted around the top of the roop ala a Greek frieze. In 5th grade we did another mural depicting the conquest of Mexico by Cortez (How VERYun-PC-would probably never fly today( while for the study of Canada we each were given a white pocket older and assigned a province. (Mine was Alberta) Our artwork was a drawing of the province on the cover , the Canadian Flag and the Province seal. We put our reports about the province (AG, Exports trade & Commerce, etc.) in said folder. We did the same thing in our study of the American states of that year. I picked Idaho ("Gem of the Rockies") and accomplished my artwork on the cover. No homework didn't seem to negatively affect us at all. We took both the Iowa and California tests every year grade 1-6 and were always above the nat avg. BTW, I should not we were nEVER assigned a letter grade until beginning the 7th grade; rather an in-depth written evaluation of our strengths and weaknesses..

MayBee said...

I think this is the best thing ever.

The idea that an 8 hour day isn't enough for elementary school is preposterous.
1st grade homework was nothing but stress stress stress for our sons and they were great kids who loved school.

I agree almost completely with what Freeman says, although I don't think it's a great or even feasible option to just say grades don't matter so the child won't do the homework. The school decides whether the grades matter (will they get good placement in middle school if they simply didn't do their homework?) And a parent who says this who isn't maybe as on top of things as Freeman is going to be harassed by the school.

I do hope pressure is mounting to do away with elementary school homework and special projects. Ugg

MayBee said...

ps I'm not thrilled with the poll answers Only one really supportive and then it has the silly "I'm going to share it on Facebook", as if to demean that option.

Paddy O said...

It would be karmic if she ever needs surgery that that her surgeon also dismissed "practice makes perfect." Bet she'd change her mind quickly.

I for one am entirely against training surgery skills in elementary school to begin with, but if society insists on it, I'd be okay with elementary school students having extra surgery practice. Ideally, however, still not at home.

I do like the memorization idea. Though that gets into another tricky education issue. What should they memorize? Heteronormative, Euro-centric, privileged products of Western imperialism? Administrators and the bureaucratic standards even administrators have to submit to are the problem, but the solution is tricky as it is much easier to offer busy work than navigate the politicized world of contemporary education. Especially when there at least three levels of non-mutual government expectations (local, state, federal)in place, each of which affects funding.

The current real option is homeschooling, where attendance usually doesn't take too long. And lunch, recess, field trips, and other activities don't have to involve a lot of rigamarole. The negative for that is that it assumes there's a parent or such at home to do the teaching, so that's not really an option for many families.

mockturtle said...

I memorized a lot of Kipling. The cadence and vitality of his work appealed to me.

mockturtle said...

But of course Kipling would not pass PC muster today.

Freeman Hunt said...

The school decides whether the grades matter (will they get good placement in middle school if they simply didn't do their homework?)

Start doing it the year before middle school placement takes place.

Freeman Hunt said...

If you aren't breaking the law, you can tell them, "No." I don't know of any homework laws. But then, maybe they exist, and I don't know about them.

MayBee said...

Why shouldn't a second grade have a sheet of arithmetic problems to do?

Why should they?

MayBee said...

If you aren't breaking the law, you can tell them, "No." I don't know of any homework laws. But then, maybe they exist, and I don't know about them.

I don't know if there are laws, but I used to volunteer at the school enough to know how much the parents who didn't check Johnny's homework. Now, you are a well-spoken parent and if you say "no", the school may respect that. But Joe Six Pack isn't going to get that same respect. The school that believes in homework will think he is shirking his parental responsibilities.

But then, I dream of a day when they just get rid of homework through at least 4th grade.

MayBee said...

Adam Carolla talks about some of these studies, and how much he hates the stress his kids' homework causes the family. He says he wants to bring this up to the teachers, but he and his wife are the stupid people in the school. He's trying to enlist some of the smart parents to take on his cause.

Freeman Hunt said...

Now, you are a well-spoken parent and if you say "no", the school may respect that. But Joe Six Pack isn't going to get that same respect. The school that believes in homework will think he is shirking his parental responsibilities.

But realistically, what can they do about it? So what if they don't respect him? They often hate well-spoken parents who disagree with them too, but they can't really do anything about it. As long as an average parent isn't belligerent; it's probably going to be fine.

Freeman Hunt said...

He's trying to enlist some of the smart parents to take on his cause.

Those people are often liked even less.

But I think it's great that some people are trying to change things like this.

Birches said...

Kids do better when they are allowed to play freely, not join in a regimental sports program which is what most of middle class suburbia does these days. My kids go outside after dinner to play and don't come back until bedtime.

Birches said...

I'm with Freeman. If hw is too stressful, don't do it all.

Paddy O said...

that was my philosophy through high school

It wasn't until college that homework really became necessary. But in college they have very efficient classes 2-3 times a week (or one long class a week). There's a local charter school program that facilitates home-schooling by offering sign-up courses each week on various topics per semester. I'm fine with homework from a class like this, which doesn't take a huge amount of time already to do very little.

Real American said...

WTF. Every single option is some version of "i'm offended." screw off losers.

I think it's wonderful! but I'm NOT going to share this on Facebook.

Bad Lieutenant said...

I seem to remember having assignments to take home in first grade, one coming to mind was, I had a list of words and I had to supply homonyms for them.

I was fine with school and schoolwork. I was a self-taught reader at the age of 2 and devoured books so that was never a problem. I might have liked to start later. I daresay that if you don't like doing homework, you could instead be exposed to other chores, like farm work, or mixing and pouring concrete, or sorting recycling, until you appreciated the soft duty of 'worksheets.'

The trouble is that things have to be one-size-fits-all and can't be individualized, because reasons.

Maybe we could just find out what Isaac Newton and Albert Einstein had for homework and give them that.

To Freeman, you can blow off whatever, but once your kid is out of the 2-1, 3-1, 4-1, etc., track, you've lost whatever the argument was. They put me in 8-2 one year and I was fixing to claw my way out (ended up going early to Bronx Science instead of taking 9th grade at my JHS).

What was the kid part of being a kid that I was supposed to like?

Char Char Binks said...

Freeman Hunt said...

"Fortunately, there is an option for parents at this age: opt out of the homework."

It's not necessarily a good option. My son was an early homework rebel, and didn't always finish it. I was not happy with that, but I thought, "As long as he's learning, that's ok.", but the teachers DELIBERATELY held back on teaching him more.

He was fairly advanced in math, thanks to the flash card drills and workbooks he did with me before he even started kindergarten, and while on break from school, but he didn't advance much in math class. They said it was because he didn't finish his work, making it seem like a natural result of his laziness; he couldn't advance without first doing what was required. But they were actually REFUSING to teach him more, not because he wasn't prepared for it, but to PUNISH him for not doing his homework. In fact, at one parent-teacher conference, I believe when he was in fifth grade, the teacher asked me if he knew his multiplication table, something I taught him, and that he learned thoroughly, through 12 times 12, about three years earlier. That was his last year in public school.

Jack Wayne said...

The options presented are completely beside the point. I attended 2nd grade in 1955. We didn't have homework. However, during the school day we had rigorous class work - spelling bees once a week, math quizzes every week, tests every couple of weeks. We read aloud in our respective reading groups (fast, medium, slow) and etc. We were drilled every day on the math tables and on facts like the number of feet in a mile. Can anyone say this is the norm today? I doubt it. Homework is probably necessary as the class work is so dumbed down. We had PE for an hour every day to shake out the doldrums. Do we do that today? This poll is crap.

My suggested poll: can you do better home-schooling your kids? If so, why don't you?

mockturtle said...

Kids I know who were home-schooled in elementary grades turned out better-educated and vastly more mature than their public school counterparts. But, of course, it says a lot about the parents.

Joe said...

Whoa on the Japan thing. Japanese schools are actually pretty terrible and almost completely emphasize passing tests (in Japan, test scores mean everything.) Parents who want their kids to go to the best colleges enroll their students in private tutoring.

(Then there is the notorious bullying in Japanese schools, which many [most?] parents see as a good thing. Tough love and all that bullshit. Why anyone sees Japan as a roll model baffles me.)

Sammy Finkelman said...


"There will be no formally assigned homework this year. Research has been unable to prove that homework improves student performance."

She should have stopped right there.

There was no reason to add substitutes for homework.

Many of these things, if correlated, are correlated after the fact. She could also have suggested also buying 100 books - any books - and keeping them in the house.

MayBee said...

There was no reason to add substitutes for homework.

Many of these things, if correlated, are correlated after the fact. She could also have suggested also buying 100 books - any books - and keeping them in the house


She was just giving a list of things to do as an explanation as to why her no homework policy is a good idea. It wasn't an exhaustive list or an assignment.

Henry said...

"Rather, I ask you spend your evenings doing things that are proven to correlate with student success. Catch small animals. Climb trees. Find some running water and make a dam."

Gabriel said...

So many people here and in the article, I can't find anyone to agree with.

American students, judging from those who passed through my university classes, are generally coming out of K-12 with very little. All the stories I hear about loading them up with homework since first grade, if that's true, well it didn't work.

But let's not throw out the baby with the bathwater. Appropriate targeted homework is very valuable, and essential for learning anything that is hard and requires practice. There isn't time to practice all through the instructional day. Anything very mathematical needs hundreds of hours of practice in order to obtain competency. American families understand and approve when it's sports. Likewise for writing, you need to practice it, it's a skill. Nothing substitutes for time in. It's like thinking a teacher should be able to explain to you how to ride a motorcycle and after the explanation you can just ride away. Most of us see the fallacy there.

But most "subjects" are things that can be read about. Like what happened in WWII, or what the capital of Nigeria is. Appropriate homework there might be to read about it.

Birches said...

That was perfect Gabriel