Mo homework, mo problems?

Some children, like the one featured in the video below, take homework very seriously, and will go to great lengths to have their homework questions answered:

Still, for most students, homework is a less-than-desirable, although necessary, evil. How much homework is allowable has been up for great debate over the last few years at my high school, with the outcome being a newly-created Homework Committee.  Now, the question that seems to be on everyone’s mind is:  How much homework is actually beneficial to students?

In the CBS News report “The Case Against Homework,” eleven-year-old Ben Berrafato eloquently questions the need for this age-old practice (see video below).  Berrafato researched and wrote an essay on the topic of homework for his fifth grade class, and his essay made it to the Op-Ed section of the New York Daily News.  He has also been featured in person in various news interviews on national television.

In the interview, Berrafato knowledgeably shares his findings on the effectiveness of homework (many of which come from Time Magazine‘s “The Myth About Homework”).  According to the research, homework at the elementary level garners nearly no benefit to students, and homework above one hour in middle school and two hours in high school actually decreases students’ standardized test scores.  The article also notes that countries who have historically ranked higher than the U.S. in education actually give less homework, and countries that rank lower in education give comparatively more homework.

Can it be argued, then, that “down time” is just as important as, for lack of a better phrase, “brain time?”  The answer, quite possibly, is yes. In “An Idle Brain May Be Ripe for Learning,” Anita Hamilton reports on NYU cognitive neuroscientist Lila Davachi’s study on the brain at rest, in which she found “…that the brain at rest, even while remaining awake, is conducting meaningful activity. ‘Your brain is doing work for you even when you’re resting,’ says Davachi, who just published a study in Neuron showing that certain kinds of brain activity actually increase during waking rest and are correlated with better memory consolidation. ‘Taking a rest may actually contribute to your success at work or school,’ she adds.”

And with that, I’m off to take a nap.


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