So, I was interviewed many months ago by a writer for Parents magazine who was writing an article about homework.  The article appears in the current (November) issue of Parents.  Since there is no digital version of the magazine that I can link to, I include here a couple of screen shots of the digital version from my iPad – just the pages on which the author references her interview with me:

photophoto copyI think it would have been far more worthwhile to note that despite doing or turning in hardly any homework during the second half of first grade, Lilah continued to work at or above grade level in every area.  The fact that her teacher gave her a “satisfactory” under “completes homework” on her report card is still a mystery to me, and really means nothing except that teachers can make arbitrary decisions.  In any case, Parents magazine isn’t exactly known for scratching much below the surface of things, so it’s not all that surprising that this article wasn’t really taking any sort of stand.

Nonetheless, in spite of stating – correctly – in the article that numerous studies have shown that homework at the elementary school level is pretty pointless (and can actually be harmful), the article goes on to give tips on how to make homework go more smoothly anyway.  Frustrating!  How about some useful tips on how to put an end to useless homework?  Additionally, on the parents.com website, there’s currently a different article about homework, How Parents Can Help Kids With Homework, which reads suspiciously like a guide on How to Get Extremely Overinvolved In Your Kids’ Homework, Because That Will Teach Them Responsibility and Good Work Habits, which could also be titled I Bet You Didn’t Know You Wanted To Be a School Teacher, Didja?

Back to the original article: another frustrating thing these types of articles (and conversations with teachers) seem to include are the claims about all those parents out there who actually want MORE homework for their kids – not less.  And you know what?  I believe it – I believe there are parents out there who really do think their kids should have more homework, because they mistakenly equate quantity of homework with academic “rigor,” achievement, success, and overall intelligence.  An excerpt from the article for which I was interviewed:

Another reason for the heavier workload might surprise you: “Many parents request more homework because they want their kids to be achievers, even in the earliest grades,” says Dr. Cooper.  Vinita Khanna, a mom of two in Haddonfield, New Jersey, is a perfect example.  Even though her daughter Ria had daily math, spelling, and reading assignments in second grade, Khanna felt she wasn’t being challenged enough.  So she asked the teacher to send home extra math problems.  “Now Ria’s ahead of the other kids in her class,” Khanna says.

Okay, a couple of things:

  • So, because some parents demand more homework, we all pay?
  • So what if little Ria is ahead of the other kids in her class?  How does Mom even know where the other kids in the class are at in relation to her daughter?  And if Ria really is ahead of the other kids, what does that mean in the big picture?  That she’s better?  Smarter?  Destined for greater things?  I mean, seriously, I’d like to know.  I wonder if Mom is at all worried about Ria becoming bored, or burned out.

I think rather than continuing to promote this homework agenda, and allowing parents to believe that homework is the path to achievement and success, we need to get real and disabuse these parents of these silly notions that are hurting all of our kids.