Washington Post Education Reporter Writes that The Case Against Homework is About the Benefits of TV Watching

In November, education reporter Jay Mathews criticized The Case Against Homework in The Washington Post, stating, “I was surprised to find these good people trying to get away with hyperbole and incomplete data unworthy of them.” He devotes a good part of that article to arguing that school children these days do no more homework than they ever did, and that homework overload is not a problem.

I don’t mind a little criticism and I love a healthy debate, but I was disappointed when a reader alerted me to Mathews’ own hyperbole in a second article, also in The Washington Post, titled “When Is Homework Too Much? When It Cuts Into TV Time?” There, Mathews invites his readers to tell him whether he’s out of touch (email jay mathews), or whether TV watching is good for children, the premise, according to Mathews, of The Case Against Homework

The person who told me about Mathews’ most recent article wrote to him:

Dear Mr. Mathews,
Did you do your homework? I think if you had read The Case Against Homework, from which you quoted, you would not have framed the issue as a question of homework vs. TV time. The book makes many valid arguments for reducing the homework load of our students. I don’t think TV time is one of them. My daughter is a freshman in high school. All of her academic courses are Honors classes. She gets 5-6 hours of homework per school night and about the same amount on the weekends. This doesn’t allow much time for anything else during the school week. She watches very little TV and finds that she has too little time for practicing her guitar, playing after-school sports or reading for pleasure. She often has to stay up late to finish homework, causing her to get inadequate rest. The parent of a classmate of hers has told me that her daughter brings her homework to the dinner table because she doesn’t even have time to break for dinner. In past years, our family has had to cut short planned holiday trips due to the overload of homework. We’ve considered transferring her out of the Honors courses so that she can have some balance in her life, but she enjoys the interaction and the lively debates with the very engaged students that are in these classes.
Students shouldn’t have to choose between a rigorous course load and everything else. There should be time after school to pursue other interests and there should be family time. Each school or school system should adopt a homework policy. Students would be well-served by a homework policy that balances their academic needs with their outside interests, their family commitments and good old-fashioned “down timeâ€? – and I don’t mean TV!–C.P., Silver Springs, Maryland

Thanks for sticking up for me, C.P.

3 thoughts on “Washington Post Education Reporter Writes that The Case Against Homework is About the Benefits of TV Watching

  1. Oh come on! Sports? Practicing guitar? Reading for pleasure? What the hell do you think this is? Do you want your kid to be a complete failure? Do you want your country to continue it’s counter-clockwise swirl down the drain of world influence and brain-power dominance? For crying out loud! This ain’t our daddy’s post-WWII world; everything is no longer handed to America on a silver platter. China graduates 6 times as many engineers per year from it’s universities as the US; India 3 times as many…and they are damned good and getting better (I know; I am an electronics engineer). Our high paying technical and manufacturing jobs are shipping overseas faster than empty containers on their way back to China to be refilled with consumer electronics!

    OK – go let your kid relax; don’t worry whether they like math or can think critically. Let them play soccer or field hockey and play guitar…that’s a real useful skill. But don’t expect my kids (I have two) to subsidize your kids, except, perhaps, when they buy a burger from her.

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  2. I totally agree with what you are saying–
    i myself am in highschool and have found that besides being in school, i have not made it out of the house since the beggining of January. I dont get to hang-out with my friends much anymore unless it is at school and spend a good majority of the night doing homework. I know that I probably sound like just another kid trying to get off easy without learning anything but the truth is that I love to learn, but after spending seven hours at school the last thing that i need is to do another three to five hours of homework. It does’nt help at all. Its all just busy work. Not to mention that I have to stress out about assignments that I might have forgotten to do or assignments that I didnt understand.

    and as for you Maureen O’Brien, go ahead, talk bad about the kid who doesnt want to spend their life doing homework, because even if you or your kids do end up buying burgers from people like me, just remember this one little thing:
    Even though you might make more money than me in the future, at least i have a life outside of work, at least i have friends who will always love me no matter where i end up, and at least i will have had some fun in my life instead of working my A$$ off until i was old and couldnt even move anymore.

    > 🙂 🙂 🙂 >

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  3. I myself am attending school. I enjoy playing sports; as a matter of fact sports are my life. All these people are talking about child obesity and how do you think that i stay away from being obese from playing sports. Playing sports has been getting harder and harder because of the fact that i have 5-6 hours of homework each night. Even over the weekends i have homework, and therefore do not get a break.

    The amount of homework each night causes a lot of stress. F.E. my science teacher told us that we should study 3 1/2 hours for one measly little test that was only 20 questions. Does she realize the amount of homework that we get in all of our other classes? Does she realize that we are still kids and that we need time to be kids? I don’t think so.

    On a normal Friday, we have about 3-4 tests. How are we supposed to study for all of this, while getting our homework done? Does this make sense to you? No, this does not make sense. In my case I am taking high school credit classes and I have homework every night in each of these classes. Not once do I get a break, we even end up having homework over the weekend. So I ask you when are we supposed to live our lives without getting F’s? When are we supposed to learn who we are? This is supposed to be our developing stages in life, but how do we know who we are if we can’t have any personal time?

    I am actually writing a persuasive essay on this subject. Do you know how many cons there are too this? It causes stress, back problems from having to carry your backpack everywhere because we have no lockers, our family doesn’t get to see us as much, we can’t have extra curricular activities, and so much more.

    Did you know that America has the highest rate of people graduating form high-school being illiterate? Also did you know that Japan, China, and many foreign countries have better test scores then us, and guess what they have better test scores. Also you know about the whole thing with working over 40- 50 hours a week has been proven to turn out for the worst not the better. The work’s quality begins to get worse and worse. Rather than improving, so this makes sense for the amount of homework that we get. Our brains can only take in so much each day. We are in school for 8 hours plus the 4+ hours of homework that we get. The teachers are told that the amount of homework that we get should be 1 ½ hours total each night. 4 hours is definitely bigger than 1 ½.

    I am writing this mainly to Mr. Maureen O’Brian above.

    Sorry, about my very strong opinion but this subject is subject that i think about on a daily day bases. Hope this clues you in on a little bit of information as well as gives a stong opinion on a subject.

    Thank You,

    Courtney

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