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A 2015 study, for instance, found that kindergarteners, who researchers tend to agree shouldn’t have any take-home work, were spending about 25 minutes a night on it. As many children, not to mention their parents and teachers, are drained by their daily workload, some schools and districts are rethinking how homework should work—and some teachers are doing away with it entirely.
In fact, there are different, but just as compelling, reasons it can be burdensome in these communities as well.
Allison Wienhold, who teaches high-school Spanish in the small town of Dunkerton, Iowa, has phased out homework assignments over the past three years.
(Kohn’s prolific writing on the subject alleges numerous other methodological faults.)In fact, other correlations make a compelling case that homework doesn’t help.
Some countries whose students regularly outperform American kids on standardized tests, such as Japan and Denmark, send their kids home with less schoolwork, while students from some countries with higher homework loads than the U.
Because many of these parents already feel connected to their school community, this benefit of homework can seem redundant.
“They don’t need it,” Schneider says, “so they’re not advocating for it.”That doesn’t mean, necessarily, that homework is more vital in low-income districts.It turns out that there’s some disagreement about this among researchers, who tend to fall in one of two camps.In the first camp is Harris Cooper, a professor of psychology and neuroscience at Duke University.They feel entitled enough to voice their opinions.”Schneider is all for revisiting taken-for-granted practices like homework, but thinks districts need to take care to be inclusive in that process.“I hear approximately zero middle-class white parents talking about how homework done best in grades K through two actually strengthens the connection between home and school for young people and their families,” he says.The 21st century has so far been a homework-heavy era, with American teenagers now averaging about twice as much time spent on homework each day as their predecessors did in the 1990s.Even little kids are asked to bring school home with them.Hillsborough, California, an affluent suburb of San Francisco, is one district that has changed its ways.The district, which includes three elementary schools and a middle school, worked with teachers and convened panels of parents in order to come up with a homework policy that would allow students more unscheduled time to spend with their families or to play.In August 2017, it rolled out an updated policy, which emphasized that homework should be “meaningful” and banned due dates that fell on the day after a weekend or a break.“The first year was a bit bumpy,” says Louann Carlomagno, the district’s superintendent.She says the adjustment was at times hard for the teachers, some of whom had been doing their job in a similar fashion for a quarter of a century. Carlomagno says they took some time to “realize that it was okay not to have an hour of homework for a second grader—that was new.”Most of the way through year two, though, the policy appears to be working more smoothly.