Homework and the Brain

Kerry Dickinson, who was instrumental in changing homework policy in her Danville, California, community last year, sent me an interesting article on how homework effects the brain.

“Once the frontal lobes start to develop, teenagers start being able to handle higher-level, more abstract concepts,” says Istvan Molnar-Szakacs, research neuroscientist at the UCLA Semel Institute’s Tennenbaum Center for the Biology of Creativity.

“The fiber tracts—highways that carry information from the sensory areas of the brain to the frontal lobes, and back again—have to be paved for information to travel.”

Molnar-Szakacs explains that the paving, known as myelination, is the process by which the fiber tracts are insulated. With more learning comes more paving, and as the pathways become more efficient, the brain gets better at integrating information.

Read the entire article here.

2 thoughts on “Homework and the Brain

  1. This brain development stuff has been my issue with homework….thanks for finding the reinforcement of my point. The column takes it one step further too by telling us that we can’t expect each child to become scholars…many are just not wired for that and won’t be no matter what…or may be but not til they’re much older, adults really.
    I giggled at the line that said instead of a child being a academic type, he/she may be better at social interaction, be creative or have athletic ability. I have a kid who’s got all three of those last qualities and she gets the academic stuff because she’s so competitive. I think she basically looks at what other kids are doing and says, “Humph, well if she can do that ..so can I”. Thus hanging out with the studious types and kids a year or two older (who like school) might actually be really good for her.
    So in our case, homework (independently done at home) doesn’t work. But Homework Club, for half an hour at school, with other kids who are interested in doing their homework, works really well.


  2. The peculiar notion that all students can or should be scholars is absurd. Since the 1980’s our education system has been under pressure to make every child an academic with little regard for the fact that not everyone is cut out to be as such. The powers to be have gone to great lengths to devalue trades and other service based careers because it was felt that they were not good enough for our children.

    Fortunately it seems there is a movement to throw out this insane line of thinking and make available to our children options other than the academic path. It will take years to undo the damage that has been done but I think the pendulum has begun to swing back.


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