Yes, I’m on to another controversial topic right after the last one; I’m having fun, actually, talking about these issues and I love to hear from you guys about them!
Sister Mary (my Montessori trainer) taught that homework shouldn’t be necessary for a child in a Montessori school. For starters, the child won’t usually have access to Montessori materials at home. Second, most homework consists of worksheets and workbooks, which we don’t use in Montessori [much] anyway. Third, the nature of Montessori learning (hands-on, interactive, child-directed) is so beneficial to the child that they don’t need homework to stay current with learning.
Of course, back then I thought there was some benefit to homework (hadn’t I always had to do it?), but kids in Montessori just didn’t need that benefit, whatever it was. Now, things are changing. Children in traditional schools are getting more homework than ever, but books are being written that argue that homework isn’t necessary or beneficial at all.
One book, The Homework Myth by Alfie Kohn, says that forcing homework on kids causes them to lose their creative spark and that homework is actually harmful to children – to their relationships and intellect.
A similar book by Sarah Bennett & Nancy Kalish, The Case Against Homework, is along the lines of Kohn’s but is also a call to arms for parents, school boards, teachers, and even children to speak out against homework.
Personally, when I was a teacher I didn’t assign homework other than reading – a story each day or two from a grade-level reader. Many times I had parents ask me to give their children homework, which was strange. It seems more common to hear parents complain when their kids have too much homework, but some parents seemed to want it.
In those cases, I told the parents to have their child pick a book at the library, read it, and write a book report about it. Strangely, no families ever took me up on that. Possibly all they wanted for their kids was busywork – but not a project that would require effort on the part of the parents and child. More and more school districts are phasing out homework as it becomes clear that it accomplishes almost nothing but wasting a child’s time once they get home from a full day in school.