September means back to school, and while parents everywhere are breathing a sigh of relief, the kids aren't always so thrilled.
Back to school means back to early mornings, back to long days in the classroom, and back to homework every night.
Doing homework is a normal part of school, we've all done it, we've all dreaded it, but now one teacher has decided to take a stand against it.
Brandy Young, a teacher in Fort Worth, Texas, sent a note out to the parents of her students with a new homework policy.
The note read:
After much research this summer, I am trying something new. Homework will only consist of work that your student did not finish during the school day. There will be no formally assigned homework this year.
Research has been unable to prove that homework improves student performance. Rather, I ask that you spend your evenings doing things that are proven to correlate with student success. Eat dinner as a family, read together, play outside, and get your child to bed early.
Mrs. Brandy Young"
Young put this policy into effect two years ago, but now she's got a few modifications to it. She learned that while many students love the idea of being homework-free, there are still some kids who actually want homework, better yet, there are some who really need the extra work.
She will assign extra work to the kids who ask for it, and if a student is really struggling, she will assign them some extra practice. She does like to keep in contact with the parents to let them know why the extra work was given, to encourage them to help their kids understand more.
"Not assigning homework doesn’t change the fact that the kids who need extra practice the most usually don’t have the necessary support at home," said Young. "It’s a battle that educators are used to fighting, and it isn’t going away any time soon."
Young feels strongly that all work a student is assigned should be beneficial for them, and not just done for the sake of being done. "Student work, regardless of when and where it's done, should be meaningful, engaging, and relevant. No packets ever. Period."
"Kids can conquer mountains when given encouragement, choices, and support!" Young said. "They want and need to be nurtured as a whole child. I believe the no-packet theory supports that effort."
She's not the only teacher taking a stand against homework though, in 2017, the Superintendent of Marion County banned homework for all 31 elementary schools in her district.
Dr. Heidi Maier said, "no traditional homework, no work sheets, no endless pages of workbooks. Instead, our children are reading aloud with their parents at least 20 minutes a night.”
While her rule was changed slightly due to pressure from teachers, now saying that teachers could only assign "meaningful" homework, the fact of the matter remains that no research has ever shown that homework is helpful.
Author of The Homework Myth Alfie Kohn spoke out on the matter, saying that homework can actually be harmful to kids. "It causes frustration, unhappiness, and family conflict; it often makes children less excited about learning and leaves them with less time to pursue other interests and just enjoy their childhoods."
"But we seem to assume it's worth it to force them to work a 'second shift' after they get home from a full day in school," Kohn continued. "We take on faith that the academic benefits must outweigh the substantial costs."