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History of Homework

Essay By: Jerri Kaplan

The history of homework and my opinion on the subbject.

Submitted:Oct 12, 2009    Reads: 1,041    Comments: 2    Likes: 1   

In the 1800s the majority of children did not go to school beyond grammar school. Those who did ended up having to do "memorization and drilling of facts" (Gill and Schlossman, 1996). During the 1900s restrictions were placed on homework. California's homework law in 1901 declared "children under the age of 15 should not have to do any. Better that children should play in the sunshine, reformers said" (Gill and Schlossman, 1996). Schools began increasing the amount of homework in the 1980s and 1990s, especially for younger students. Today "it is unusual to find schools that do not give homework, and many school systems require it" (Gill and Schlossman, 1996).
The definition of homework is assignments for students to do out of class. There are three types of homework: practice, preparation, and extension. Practice reinforces new skills. For example, a student may be given a set of math problems for homework that are similar to the ones completed in class. Preparation helps students prepare for future classroom activities such background research on an upcoming topic. Extension is normally a long-term project that goes along with class work throughout the year. Examples are term papers or science fair projects.
"Why is homework important" is a question asked numerous times throughout the year by students. "Many teachers and parents agree that homework develops students' iniative and responsibility and fulfills the expectations of students, parents, and the public" (Mar. 1996). The case for homework has toughened because of the relationship between homework and student achievement.
There has always been the question of how much homework is too much. The article How Important is Homework explains that it varies by grade. No more than twenty minutes a day should be spent on homework for students in kindergarten through third grade. Fourth through sixth grade is to have twenty to forty minutes of homework a day while it varies from seventh grade to twelfth grade. For the latter, the amount of homework depends mostly on the number and type of classes being taken. However, anything over two hours a night is not suitable.
"A typical homework completing high school student will outperform students who do not do homework by 69% on standardized tests" (Plate, 2000). Homework reinforces work done in school, promotes student iniative, independence, and responsibility, and brings both home and school closer. With homework, critical thinking and concept information are increased and students retain information and understand material better.
With homework comes the temptation to cheat in order to get the assignment completed on time. The amount of time needed for homework limits the students' time for other activities within the community.
Teachers should not use homework as a type of punishment because it takes away from the purpose of homework. Homework should also be connected to what is going on in the class or what will be going on in the class. A reasonable amount of homework should also be given.
In conclusion, the majority of information found leans toward homework as something positive. However, I believe that most teachers give too much homework. From my experience in high school, many teachers gave busy work as in class assignments and then assigned more homework on top of what had to be finished at home. In one class alone, I had over two hours of homework several times a month. I also believe there is more literature available that leans toward homework. From all of my research, I only found a few articles that were against it. Students are wanted to participate in athletics and to join activities in the school and community, but I feel most students are not able to fully do that because of the amount of homework assigned from their numerous classes.

28 Mar. 1996. 10 Oct. 2006 <http://www.kidsource.com/kidsource/content/HOW_IMPORTANT_HOMEWORK.html>.
Gill, Brian, and Steven Schlossman. "The Crusade to Abolish Homework." American Journal of Education (1996).
Plate, Jolynn. "Homework and Its Role in Constructivist Pedagogy." 2000. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, CTER Masters Program. 09 Oct. 2006 <http://lrs.ed.uiuc.edu/students/plato1/constructhome/index.html>.


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