Monday, September 04, 2006
"As adults know, a break from work is a necessary antidote for stress. We need what psychologists call ''consolidation,'' the time away from a problem when newly learned material is absorbed. Often we
return from a break to discover that the pieces have fallen into place. Too many of our children today are denied that consolidation time. And when parents are told that their children's skills will slip
without summer homework, we have to wonder: if those skills are so fragile, what kind of education are they really getting?
In fact, there's serious doubt about whether homework has any benefit at all. Most studies have found little or no correlation between homework and achievement (meaning grades and test scores) in
elementary school or middle school.
According to Harris Cooper of Duke University, the nation's leading researcher on the subject, there is a clear correlation among high school students, but he warns that ''overloading them with homework is not associated with higher grades.''
Yet very few teachers have ever taken a course on homework or know what the research shows, and many told us homework assignments are an ''afterthought.'' Another claimed benefit of homework -- instilling responsibility and self-discipline -- is undermined when homework is so overwhelming that parents routinely have to help their children every step of the
In fact, most experts believe reading is the most important educational activity. Yet a poll released last week by Scholastic and Yankelovich found that the amount of time youngsters spend reading for fun declines sharply after age 8. The No. 1 reason given by parents: too much homework."