Teachers are afraid not to give homework for fear of being perceived as "easy." Despite there being more diversity among learners in our schools than ever, many teachers continue to assign the same homework to all students in the class and continue to disproportionately fail students from lower-income households for not doing homework, in essence punishing them for lack of an adequate environment in which to do homework.
Many school districts across the United States voted to abolish homework, especially in the lower grades: In the 1930s and 1940s, although few districts abolished homework outright, many abolished it in grades K–6.
In grades K–3, condemnation of homework was nearly universal in school district policies as well as professional opinion.
Teachers, overwhelmed by an already glutted curriculum and pressures related to standardized tests, assign homework in an attempt to develop students' skills and extend learning time.
At the same time, they are left frustrated when the students who most need more time to learn seem the least likely to complete homework.
Early in the 20th century, an anti-homework movement became the centerpiece of a nationwide trend toward progressive education.
Progressive educators questioned many aspects of schooling: "Once the value of drill, memorization, and recitation was opened to debate, the attendant need for homework came under harsh scrutiny as well" (Kralovec & Buell, 2000, p. As the field of pediatrics grew, more doctors began to speak out about the effect of homework on the health and well-being of children.His writings were instrumental in the growth of the anti-homework movement of the early 1900s, a harbinger of the important role media would play in future homework debates.By 1930, the anti-homework sentiment had grown so strong that a Society for the Abolition of Homework was formed.The history of homework and surrounding attitudes is relevant because the roots of homework dogma developed and became entrenched over the last 100 years.Attitudes toward homework have historically reflected societal trends and the prevailing educational philosophy of the time, and each swing of the pendulum is colored by unique historical events and sentiments that drove the movement for or against homework.Learning consisted of drill, memorization, and recitation, which required preparation at home: At a time when students were required to say their lessons in class in order to demonstrate their academic prowess, they had little alternative but to say those lessons over and over at home the night before.Before a child could continue his or her schooling through grammar school, a family had to decide that chores and other family obligations would not interfere unduly with the predictable nightly homework hours that would go into preparing the next day's lessons. 174) The critical role that children played as workers in the household meant that many families could not afford to have their children continue schooling, given the requisite two to three hours of homework each night (Kralovec & Buell, 2000).The benefits of fresh air, sunshine, and exercise for children were widely accepted, and homework had the potential to interfere.One hundred years ago, rather than diagnosing children with attention deficit disorder, pediatricians simply prescribed more outdoor exercise.At the end of the 19th century, attendance in grades 1 through 4 was irregular for many students, and most classrooms were multi-age.Teachers rarely gave homework to primary students (Gill & Schlossman, 2004).