Twelve Reasons Not to Set Homework

01 June 2007
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Leonard TurtonLeonard Turton

Tim Perkins is a teacher in a primary school in Australia. In January he posted an email on the IDEC (International Democratic Education Conference) listserve asking for useful arguments against homework that he could use to persuade his colleagues that it was unnecessary. His own view was that all the homework he had seen set was "boring, repetitive, unrelated to class work, a pain in the arse to mark, closed-ended, angst-causing and generally a waste of time that could have been valuably spent in other ways such as creative pursuits, chilling out, being with friends, being with family, playing, dreaming etc ." This is part of Leonard Turton's response to Tim Perkins' request.

• If a school has to give homework it isn't doing its daytime job properly. (That's an old comment from the Ontario Ministry of Education.)

• Research over the years seems to indicate that for younger children homework makes no difference to how much they learn at school.

• Children lead full learning and doing lives. When they are at home nowadays they are off to community centres, to sports, to music lessons or are busy on computers and so on. Children are learning and doing A LOT away from school and homework interferes with that quite dramatically.

• Homework interferes with play. Play is a significant component of child happiness and proper development.

• Homework can make family evenings a misery and instead of it being a chance for family doing it ends up as family stress – especially if the child has problems learning.

• Many parents are simply not capable of helping their children with their homework, which can embarrass both them and their children.

• Why should parentshave to do teaching in the evenings? Do teachers do the parents' work in the evenings?

• If parents work shift-work they cannot be there to help their kids.

• What about the mom with four kids – huh ???? That's four homework assignments. Anyone ever think of that ??

• To set up kids with learning problems for regular evening misery is just disgraceful. They don't need more work at home, they need a chance to get away from it, relax and do other things they enjoy and feel good about.

• Kids who have no problems and/or have parent help tend to improve faster than those who have difficulties and/or no parent help, so homework makes the gap between those who do well in school and those who don't even bigger.

• Homework tends to make children hate school.


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