Ben Wildavsky reviews the two new anti-homework books, reminding readers of a 2003 Brookings study which found the typical American high school student “spends less than one hour studying per day.” Students 9 to 12 years old average less than four hours per week on homework, compared to more than 13 hours a week watching television. The rise in homework hours is driven by the decreasing number of students who do no homework at all, Wildavsky writes.
As this Washington Post story points out, researchers conclude that homework has little benefit for elementary students, though it does provide some reading and basic skills practice and build work habits. Middle-schoolers who spend about 1 1/2 hours a night and high school students who study for two hours a night do better in school; more homework doesn’t correlate with higher grades or scores.
A Time story cites a study estimating students 6 to 8 years old average 128 minutes of homework a week. If they do nothing on weekends, that’s about 25 minutes a day.
Of course, some poorly conceived homework assignments demand way too much poster board and waste the time of children and their parents. And some ambitious students overload themselves with AP courses that demand hours of homework every night. So let’s focus on useful homework assignments not on telling kids they shouldn’t study. Four hours of homework. Thirteen hours of TV. What’s the problem here?