Should homework be largely eliminated in the Massachusetts public schools?

In The News

June 6, 2022

By Mary Tamer

From The Boston Globe

For the last two decades, I’ve survived thousands of my children’s homework assignments.

Some of the more creative ones held not only their attention, but mine. I fondly recall a third-grade project to create a diorama of the Museum of Science’s Theater of Electricity, reimagined with a styrofoam ball, Model Magic, and paper clips turned into “electric” zigzags.

Others, like the numerous word searches favored by one eighth-grade science teacher, did little beyond creating 45 minutes of nightly frustration.

We took the good assignments with the bad, and often lamented during the high school years how much time was spent — to the detriment of sleep and socialization — on homework.

Still, I’m not one to advocate for its demise. I’d rather push for its reinvention.

Meaningful homework provides a framework for out-of-school learning intended to deepen and enforce classroom lessons. It can foster lasting, lifelong skills of time management, critical thinking, and reflection. When quantity is emphasized over quality, however, it can also cause undue stress, anxiety, and sleeplessness in children.

As we continue to navigate through a pandemic, the time has come for us to reimagine so much of what we do and how we do it. Homework is no exception. How do we ensure that all students are given ample opportunities for socialization, movement, and creative play, with a finite amount of time set aside for engaging, out-of-school work that deepens content knowledge and fosters their love of learning? For students with after-school jobs, how might we give due credit for the critical lessons they learn about business and working with the public — or about watching younger siblings or caring for a grandparent?

Across the country and in Massachusetts, schools are changing homework policies and piloting new strategies, with some eliminating worksheets in the early grades or only assigning nightly reading. Others, like Weston, have daily or weekly homework caps, or apply a 10-minute rule, where first-graders have 10 minutes of nightly homework, with annual increases by grade.

Educators and parents alike are acknowledging the need to move away from our “one-size-fits-all” model of education. The same is true for homework. It’s time to embrace more collaborative, creative options that elevate and amplify learning while also meeting students where they are.

Read the opinion here.