After Studying Homework, Teachers at One Canadian Junior High Cut Way Back on their Assignments

A principal from Edmonton, Alberta, asked the teachers at his junior high school to do their own summer reading on whether homework actually works. The result, as reported by Toronto, Canada’s, Globe and Mail: “With their return to the classroom this fall, teachers at the affluent Edmonton school are thinking twice about the pages of homework they would have automatically assigned last year, casting doubt on the age-old wisdom that practice makes perfect, that rote drills lead to deeper understanding instead of boredom or frustration. A math teacher with 26 years under her belt, Judy Hoeksema now assigns half the work she would have and fewer routine textbook exercises. Some colleagues are handing out no homework at all. ‘We’ve all been under this illusion that lots of homework creates good study habits for the future.’Ms. Hoeksema says. ‘Now, we’ve realized it isn’t making much difference.'”

3 Comments on “After Studying Homework, Teachers at One Canadian Junior High Cut Way Back on their Assignments”

  1. Tom says:

    I always thought that homework was issued to children to teach them the discipline of accepting responsability and studying. Home work was assigned to the children as a way to make up for lack of time in classes and following up with the teachings and ensuring that the concepts and methods and process were practiced. Practice makes perfect. No home work, no practice leads to poor knowledge. Not every child can learn and pick up the teachings as they are taught, and children do not retain the information as good as adults….retantion span or length is what 10 – 15%.
    I think your book and presentation at CITY TV in Toronto was wrong. i know that if I didn’t have home work back in my days, I would probably be writing books for a living.

    October 23rd, 2006 at 12:22 pm
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  2. Penelope says:

    I am a teacher and completely disagree with your stance on not giving students homework. Everyday I see the academic success that students receieve through doing homework. Students gain from the reinforcement of concepts that are taught and they are able to build on those concepts through their own discovery. There is great correlation between a students success and homework (e.g., a student who regularly does their homework and studies before tests is more successful then one who does not complete their homework or study for tests, students who are having difficulty with their homework can identify this and seek help from their teachers etc.)

    I don’t think the problem is homework, but rather that parents lives are so busy that they are not able to make time to sit down with their children and see what they are working on in school. For that matter the “traditional family meal” no longer exists. Half of the children I teach are from broken homes and barely receieve a breakfast let alone a sit down family dinner. Students from middle class families are often involved in so many after school activities (i.e., soccer, hockey, dance etc.) that they don’t have time to just “play” or enjoy a “traditional family meal”. Parents need to cut back on all of the after school activities and give students more time to play – cutting out homework is NOT the answer.

    Homework has been around for decades…it is a LIFE skill that prepares students not only for the next days lessons but for life. Cutting out homework is not the solution but rather a cover-up for the society’s real problems.

    Comment on CITY Breakfast TV Interview

    October 23rd, 2006 at 7:43 pm
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  3. Shannon Purves-Smith says:

    Dear Sara,
    I just saw you on TVO. You are my hero(ine.) Why hasn’t someone figured this out before? I did, 2 decades ago. My kids did hardly any homework in grade school (good teachers!), they had no TV, and they played outdoors every day – probably for even more hours than you recommend. They turned out just fine: one has an honours undergrad degree and the other gave up on university and now makes an excellent salary in an IT job he loves. I also believe that boys shouldn’t even attend school until the age of eight years. They should throw balls and watch worms. Have you read Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s Emile? Bravo to you for your research!

    October 24th, 2006 at 11:26 pm
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