Does homework hinder or help?

Parents don’t get much cooler than this. Tom and Shelli Milley have just won their kids the legal right not do their homework.

“We’re not slaves to a system that sends home five sheets of spelling and says it has to be done for tomorrow,” Mr. Milley says. “It’s a hideously pathetic way to learn.”

 Should homework be scrapped? Would homework time be better spent switching off?

30 Responses to “Does homework hinder or help?”

  1. 1 Julie P
    November 19, 2009 at 22:26

    They’ll definitely will not be able to handle university workloads should they be able to get in to one.

  2. 2 Adam J Carroll - cleveland US
    November 19, 2009 at 22:39

    i am a student in college & am not graded for doing my homework in many classes; should i choose not to do those suggested modes of practice i would be and have been, far worse off than if i had done them. it also teaches discipline-don’t scrap it!

  3. 3 Thomas Murray
    November 19, 2009 at 22:46

    Until we invent memory pills, homework will never not be necessary.

    But the controversy should be about the sheer WEIGHT of textbooks these days. I realize it’s cheaper to bind, say, three books of algebra into one volume.

    But when you add to a backpack the three courses of English, three courses of biology and three courses of history, children (and collegians) are carrying twelve times the weight they only should be carrying.

    In college I threw only one strap of my backpack over my shoulder, and it threw my back out.

    So I know this is not a trivial health issue in the states. But how does it compare across the pond?

    –Louisville, Kentucky, US.

  4. 4 Nathan Xu in Adelaide Australia
    November 20, 2009 at 01:33

    No, of course not. Homework is one of the most important method to reinforce the learning, it also provides students the chance to practice with the formula’s they’ve been taught in class. I agree not to overloading students with homework. However, occupy students 2-3 hours a days with some good homework is good for a student’s personal development.

  5. 5 claudine
    November 20, 2009 at 01:53

    What do their kids do instead of homework?
    Watch spongebob squarepants on TV the whole day?

    We all know that learning only works through constant repetition.
    Homework is so that children go one more time through what they have learnt at school.
    Only ignorant parents would want also their children to remain dumb because they dont want to do their homework.

    I know, homework is: “Oh dear, I cant watch my favourite show Lassie”
    but how important is watching that favourite show or playing football outside if you later have bad marks and cat get a job?

  6. 6 T
    November 20, 2009 at 03:21

    I’ve taught for 10 years (everyone from little kids to grandmothers). Does it help? Used in the right way, it can. The key is creativity in how you do it.

  7. 7 Tan Boon Tee
    November 20, 2009 at 03:53

    If children spend 8 to 9 hours in school, exercises and practices can be done during school hours under the close supervision of teachers and the help of cohorts. This would allow them to have ample time at home to enrich themselves in beneficial activities in the company of their parents.

    In most countries where schools run double sessions daily, homework is a must, and parental guidance means a great deal.

  8. 8 Charlie in China (Shenzhen)
    November 20, 2009 at 04:55

    I don’t think it can be replaced by the other methods to get the knowledge more efficiency . Homework did help to practise and review what you have learned anyway.it might be the tradditional way where China or any other areas being used. but also i insist that it shouldn’t burden the student ,somehow.

  9. 9 scmehta
    November 20, 2009 at 06:55

    The present highly charged and stressful systems of school education do require some load-shedding. The fast-paced and nerve-breaking competitive life in today’s world is most telling on the school-going kids and their parents; the tremendous and hectic load of the curriculum/syllabus is very difficult and painful to cope with. Even the most dedicated school teachers, not being able to keep pace with their students’ heavily loaded almanac, are left with no option other than to pass the burden, in the form of homework, onto the parents. This kind of cruel education system is depleting the kids of their zest and energy; it’s like depriving them of the joys of the childhood.
    Serious thought must be given towards reforming and reducing the syllabus. It’s the balanced and all-round personality for the kids that goes a long way to help them enjoy life while facing its challenges. Besides, this is the only best way to get the most natural and dedicated quality talent for the various social and developmental requirements towards the general uplift/prosperity of any society anywhere in the world; You won’t need to go talent-hunting.

  10. November 20, 2009 at 09:35

    I’ve always felt that homework should be used for what can’t be completed in the classroom. You have X amount to accomplish… if you’re speedy and grasp it quickly – good for you, you’ve finished your work and no, or minimal homework. If you have to work at it, then take your time at home and get it down when you have more time.

    Giving additional homework for the sake of giving it was never beneficial in my opinion… the students that weren’t grasping concepts still wouldn’t after having hours of additional work (they didn’t grasp) to work on alone and speedy students weren’t “enhanced” by additional busy work (I get it, let’s move on).

    Often I would skip the homework for social time – extra-curricular skills are hugely important to development and personal growth… music, sports, family time… they teach creativity, social skills, healthy lifestyles, etc….. not doing as much homework as some friends in other classes (or schools) didn’t hinder me or my classmates too much. I managed to survive a bachelors and masters degree without having been “trained” by years of homework growing up….

  11. 11 Roberto
    November 20, 2009 at 10:38

    RE “” Should homework be scrapped? “”

    ———— Public school model in the US needs a major overhaul and has ever since the majority of population moved from natural agricultural cycles of living to unnatural urban cycles of working year round.

    There is no reason for the sheer mass of books kids have to carry in poorly designed backpacks other than illicit kickbacks to politicians and administrators from the publishing industry.

    Kids need help with homework when they get home, and often there is no time, or the parent is not educated enough to assist, or even if they are the kids are in a new system that education comes up with that defies all logic.

    • 12 Grace
      November 20, 2009 at 17:43

      Homework is a necessary evil.I have personally worked out a programe with my son’s teachers,so he can have less of it.I have a degree from over twenty years ago and cant cope with some of the stuff they teach these days,especially if there are four subjects to cover between dinner and bedtime.
      I used to feel sorry for my eleven year old as i saw him labouring on the dinning table as late as 9pm.
      I wont go to court,but we need less of it.

  12. November 20, 2009 at 12:19

    Homework helps a lot but there are situations when its rather a hindrance. It dies not give the child a time to rest, therefore if there should be homework then it should be just a little work not a whole days work at school.

  13. 14 patti in cape coral
    November 20, 2009 at 13:46

    My daughter says she is grateful now for all the homework she had to do. By the time you get to college you don’t get homework, but because of the homework she did, she knows how to organize her work and study. At that level, I guess you have to give yourself homework.

  14. 15 Mike in Seattle
    November 20, 2009 at 13:54

    Folks, do take a chance to read the article. These children aren’t being exempt from homework, rather they are focusing on reenforcing weaker subjects and leaving busywork from already strong subjects behind. Customizing the work to the student sounds like a perfectly reasonable solution to help every student.

  15. November 20, 2009 at 14:47

    I would hardly describe homework as pathetic.More a reinforcement of what was learned during the day,and a chance to understand it properly.I cannot remember the times,during an argument/discussion,when I have been told that”you should have done your homework”.Sarcastic as that may be,it does have a point.

  16. 17 Ronald Almeida
    November 20, 2009 at 14:57

    A maximum of one hour that helps students revise what was done in school, would be worthwhile. If more time is taken, from the students time then longer school hours may be a better alternative.

  17. 18 Jessica
    November 20, 2009 at 16:45

    I remember my grandmother asking my siblings and me if we had our lessons (homework) done. I think the point of homework is to reinforce through extra practice what the teacher went over in class.

    My preschooler has a weekly homework sheet to practice printing her letters. There’s not any penalty if she doesn’t do it, but she benefits from practicing her printing and reinforcing the lessons from the classroom at home.

    I do think there are teachers who assign a lot of homework, several hours worth, but it’s probably because they are spending too much time dealing with disipline issues in class and don’t have enough time to fully cover subjects.

  18. 19 Margaret
    November 20, 2009 at 17:49

    No homework for elementary(grade school kids) after that home work can be given but the amount reasonable and controlled by the school. Students and parents monitor the amount of time taken for the given assignment.

  19. November 20, 2009 at 19:43

    As a Ph.D.-educated, professional senior citizen, I can attest that nothing from my childhood experiential preparation has proved more important throughout my life than my after-school play and intimate interaction with parents through which I incorporated their core worldviews and ethical values. In preparing for a full life, cognitive development must be balanced by sensory pleasure, self-defining physical experience, conflict and problem-solving with peers apart from adult structuring, pursuit of personal interests not imposed by school, and plenty of time for interaction with family in that crucible of emotional learning.

    Parents are responsible to teach their children about relationships, values, love, care, responsibilities to others, citizenship, partnership, decisions, the meaning of work, emotional expression and empathy, not simply to function as off-duty substitute teachers. These require time that is not better spent with homework.

    Overemphasis on academic “progress” can be psychologically damaging to those who are less academically gifted. We all need a much broader and balanced base of personal identity

  20. 21 Njabulo
    November 20, 2009 at 19:45

    What a parents they are? they should motivating their kids to do their homework for the best of their future benefits, it is not an exuse that they get loaded with lots of work, no! but it is to help them revise what they did at school! and it also act as a reminder for them as well.

    Njabulo Zwane

  21. 22 Wendy
    November 20, 2009 at 20:40

    Has anyone stopped to think how old Mr Milley’s Children are? Quite young by the sound of it.

    I went to Grammar School, University and beyond but I never had any home work until I got to the Grammar School (11 years old). It didn’t do me any harm to have missed out on the homework experience that my kids now get (aged only 6 and 10)!

    I wholeheartedly agree with Jack (message at 19.43). There are many more skills to learn in life than ‘re-enforcing’ what has been done in school that day.

  22. 23 Ryan
    November 20, 2009 at 21:53

    I am not advocating for the elimination of homework, but certainly there is such a thing as too much. If teachers are requiring kids to do more than 0.5 – 1 hours of homework an evening, you are going far beyond the solidifying principles it is intended to establish, and simply eating away at a kids chance to enjoy NOT being under the burdens of school work. I, for one, would have had higher grades under a less strenuous homework schedule. In one egregious case, I earned 57 homework 0’s in a math class where I had a 96% test average. When a student who can clearly grasp the concepts of a class is earning a D *because* of homework, I suggest this indicates a flaw in the system. I’m sorry, but 90 assignments every semester is too many, and if a child can perform adequately without having to do all 90, then I see nothing wrong with their parents pursuing such freedoms for their kid.

  23. November 21, 2009 at 07:06


    When I was at school I wondered why I had to do homework. Then as I went along I realized that the time in school given to any particular subject was very short, just 30-35 minutes.

    Homework becomes a way to enhance our knowledge and be proficient in the subjects and gain the understanding of being disciplined.

    I have gained from it.


  24. November 21, 2009 at 14:59

    Like it or not learning is a full time occupation. You have to have extra hours of study outside school time not least due to the multiplicity of subjects about which pupils have to gain knowledge. A practical solution would be to reduce the number of subjects studied during the day and make them more specialised to enable a reduction of homework time. The idea of abolishing homework is absurd not least for the time required to study for exams which cannot be achieved during a normal school day.

  25. 26 Tom D Ford
    November 21, 2009 at 20:03

    I am reminded of the story of someone visiting New York City who asked a new Yorker “How do I get to Carnegie hall” and was answered with “Practice, Practice, Practice!”

    I am trying to imagine anything that a human can learn that does not take practice to really learn. Any sport takes many many repetitions to train the muscle memory. Any form of thinking takes many repetitions to develop and reinforce the neuron pathways of long term memory that makes one proficient in that particular learning.

    Now as an example, I was very smart in math early on, so smart that I didn’t do homework because I got it instantly but over the long term I had to realize that I had not practiced enough by doing homework to embed the lessons well in my brain and eventually I did not have the basics down well enough to build the advanced stuff on top of it. My bad and I regret it. I learned a damn hard lesson from that.

    Practice, practice, practice, whether it is for sports or thinking, I just don’t know of any other way to learn.

    I just thought of the Astronauts and Cosmonauts, they practice for doing things on spacewalks for like two years, and watching them, heck they are doing things that any competent journeyman construction worker could do on Earth without giving it much thought. Henh, I just love watching PhD Scientists and Engineers doing construction work labor on the ISS, it brings some level of respect to construction workers. Man, the builder!

  26. 27 Miriam
    November 22, 2009 at 22:44

    Homework helps. But most teachers are ignorant and how can they assign exciting hw?? For example, most teachers dont know most Asians – in Burma, India, Sri Lanka, Cambodia, Mongolia ..etc. – are poorer than Africans. Yet they blindly believe the media hype about Africa.

  27. 28 Miriam
    November 22, 2009 at 22:47

    Homework can suggest topics for research. Only then economic empowerment for social justice would be possible.

    Even the elite of India dont have this knowledge base for seeking social justice economic empowerment somuch so the great majority – fully 70% of Indians – are poor or very poor, only 30% being in the middle class.

  28. 29 Jennifer
    November 23, 2009 at 14:52

    Re: Should homework be scrapped? Would homework time be better spent switching off?

    I watched an interview with this father. I think he did the right thing for his kids. Yes, kids should have after school homework however homework for the sake of teachers assigning it is not teaching kids anything and is causing burnout. Why give kids multiple sheets of 1 type of thing to do? I can see a few but 5? That’s overkill. Also, he said it got so late sometimes that he would help his kids finish their assignments. That’s WAY too much homework for kids to have and it’s not even things that they need to learn.

    The one problem I did have was that he stated that focus also be placed on sports. Sports can be educational in some aspects; however it should not have priority.

  29. November 25, 2009 at 01:39

    If it’s just busywork: YES.
    Aside from that the rote education model needs to become more applicative, innovative and creative. I would personally prefer democratic schools or other models of education to take the lead.

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