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Is Homework for the Benefit of Students or Teachers?

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By guest blogger Erik Robelen

The issue of overloading students with homework once again is drawing media attention with a piece by Washington Post columnist Jay Matthews. The crux of it? Concern that some teachers may pile on homework for the wrong reasons, and not because of any real value it might provide students.

Matthews quotes several teachers, plus a student. He starts with a plea from high school junior Maddy King: "If you could talk to the teaching staff as a whole—let them know that we do not need 36 math problems if we've grasped the concept after nine."

Retired English teacher Bernadette Nakamura tells Matthews: "I believe that too often teachers give unnecessarily long, burdensome homework assignments to please parents, to show that they are demanding teachers, or to cover material they didn't manage to get to during the class period."

Just recently, we blogged here about a high-performing New York City high school that recently started forbidding teachers from assigning homework altogether on certain days of the week.
Also, an Education Week story from earlier this month highlights research suggesting that too much homework is detrimental to students' sleep patterns. And for still more discussion of homework, check out this collection of essays, dubbed The Homework Wars, published by The Atlantic.

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