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Sep 3, 2018

Show 3156. The Case Against Homework and Race to Nowhere and a sample letter you can send to your kids teacher. 

 Segment 1- Race to Nowhere – Trailer

Featuring the heartbreaking stories of students across the country who have been pushed to the brink by over-scheduling, over-testing and the relentless pressure to achieve, 'Race to Nowhere' points to a silent epidemic in our schools. Through the testimony of educators, parents and education experts, it reveals an education system in which cheating has become commonplace; students have become disengaged; stress-related illness, depression and burnout are rampant; and young people arrive at college and the workplace unprepared and uninspired.


Segment 2- From the Dennis Prager Show. The Case Against Homework: How Homework Is Hurting Our Children and What We Can Do About It. Dennis Prager talks to the author Nancy Kalish.



Healthy Homework Guidelines: A New Vision for Homework


Dr Justin Coulson has banned homework in his house and knows how controversial that is. Source: iStock

The letter

Some years ago, I wrote a longer version of this letter (below) to my children's teachers. I've used it every year since for all of my children in primary school. If you’re struggling with the futility of homework in your family, this letter may be just what you need.

Dear Teacher

We are writing to share with you a (hopefully minor) conflict our family has with school policy. The issue is homework. We recognise and appreciate that you are a teacher who has our child’s best interests at heart, and hope that this will be the first of many constructive conversations we have around her learning this year.

Barring two exceptions which we’ll mention in a moment, we do not encourage homework in our home. The reasons for this are as follows:

  1. Scientific

For young children there is little or no scientific research which supports the inclusion of homework in their extra-curricular activities. Indeed, “there is no evidence that any amount of homework improves the academic performance of [primary school] students” (Cooper, 1989, p. 101). Cooper (one of the most respected homework researchers in the world) indicated that while he was personally pro-homework, there appears to be no academic advantage for children to do homework.In many studies the relationship between homework and “learning” (often defined as grades or standardised test scores) is negative.

  1. Homework may add to yourworkload

We have sat through many parent/teacher meetings and heard teachers speak of scheduling challenges you face in terms of dealing with coordinating homework, marking homework, giving homework feedback, and so on.

  1. Homework creates stress for our children

It might be tough for teachers, but I believe it’s even tougher for children. A 2002 study found a direct relationship between time spent on homework and levels of anxiety, depression, anger, and other mood disorders and issues.

  1. Homework creates an extra burden on us as parents

With five children, and a range of responsibilities and activities we are already engaged in, this is one thing we believe is dispensable.

  1. Homework creates family conflict
  2. Homework diminishes the time our children have for other activities

We have our children involved in music lessons, sports, church activities, and more. Additionally, the children enjoy being children, by swimming in the pool, playing with friends, having free reading time, going shopping with us, contributing in our home with chores and cooking, and so on. We believe these can be more important activities than most homework activities.

  1. Homework is not inspiring

We are yet to meet a single child who enjoys homework. We have, however, seen it extinguish the flame of curiosity and love of learning.

  1. The case for homework has no supporting evidence

There is no evidence to support the belief that homework helps students develop the characteristics it is often suggested will be useful, such as ability to organise time, develop good work habits, think independently, and so on. Our experience has shown that they can usually adapt pretty well when they turn 14 or 15 without having 8 years of practice under their belt before it all starts.

Exceptions to the rule

We mentioned two exceptions to our homework rule and these are the following;

  1. Reading

We strongly encourage reading in our home. The children are encouraged to read every single day after school and before bed. However we strongly discourage placing minimum time limits on the reading or dictating the number of pages to be read.

We have seen that the best way to make students hate reading is to make them prove to us or others that they have read. However, we DO let the children know that when they have completed a book we will gladly buy them another one immediately. This, they find, is highly motivating.

  1. We actively encourage research, projects, and especially writing speeches.

This helps the children in information gathering, critical thinking, logical formatting of content, and presentation skills. Plus it gets them actively “discovering” in their learning, and sinks much deeper than much other “busy” work.

Please know that this letter is in no way meant to undermine you or make your job more difficult. In fact, we believe that it will make things easier for everyone and assist in the well-rounded positive developmental outcomes for our children.

Thanks so much for reading this. We hope that you can be understanding of our position, and are happy to discuss this with you if you have any concerns.


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