Homework — How much is too much?

Homework is in the news again. This time because French president, Francois Hollande, wants to put an end to homework for those in grade 1-8.

One big reason for the switch? According to author Peter Gumbel, a critic of the French school system, “The French are discovering — to their horror — that their performance internationally has been declining over the last 10 years. The French actually are performing [worse] than the Americans in reading and science,” he says.

This leads to a common question asked by NYTimes blogger Joyce Lau, How Much Homework Does It Take to Educate a Nation? Her answer: Who could know? She compares two drastically different educational systems with similar results –South Korea (with hours of homework each day) and Finland (with next to none).

The Latest Study

Much research is being done to answer this question and the results vary. In this most recent homework study, researchers at Indiana University and The University of Virginia concluded: “Contrary to much published research, a regression analysis of time spent on homework and the final class grade found no substantive difference in grades between students who complete homework and those who do not.”

But, as this recent Examiner article discusses, research studies like this one on homework’s benefits or lack thereof, must be taken under this consideration — the only way homework can be effective is if it constructively assigned, reviewed, and if students are given feedback. Most studies never filter for whether the homework consisted of unchecked worksheets or graded science projects.

What’s the Waldorf Homework Philosophy?         

Waldorf schools, like Spring Garden, take a healthy approach to homework. There is little to no homework in Primary school, and, in early-mid Elementary, it is kept to a minimum and tends to be project based — used primarily to help children organize themselves and develop good habits at home.  By Middle school, Waldorf students generally have a similar homework load to their peers, but the assignments are always related and relevant to the lesson block and in-class work.

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