Psychologists and school professionals have long-discussed the idea of homework and whether or not it’s more of a hindrance than a necessary evil. The concept of repetition in order to learn things is hotly debated, just like the complex relationship that lies between a child’s grade and his self-esteem. Author Alfie Kohn wrote a book about the myth of homework, mostly arguing against the idea that extra work actually helps to make an impression on young minds. Homework should only be assigned when it’s absolutely necessary, such as in the case of special assignments or learning issues. Life lessons from having free time are another way to see the world and learn, and children should be able to explore that outside of school.
Another case against assigning homework was written by authors Benett and Kalish. Their claim was that there was no viable evidence to support the idea that students benefitted from increased learning, and it could actually hurt their self-esteem.
Many countries, in fact, have already adopted the no homework methodology, to resounding success. Most notably, countries like Japan, the Czech Republic, and Denmark have the highest-scoring achievement scores, yet they assign barely any homework at all. American students do as much homework as their peers around the globe yet score around the international average.
That doesn’t mean that every school system in America is the same. Maria Montessori was an Italian physician and educator in the 1900s. She was the first female doctor in Italy and also provided education to low-income children. She began to utilize an entirely different method of teaching that empowered the student with choices and independence. Through collaborative play, self-directed activities, and hands-on learning, children were allowed to make their own creative choices regarding how they wanted to learn. The classrooms evolved into small student-to-teacher ratio collaborations in an environment with multiple grades together, with older ones teaching the young. Work is done in stations, in three-hour increments, with breaks in-between. At the end of the day, children go home and process everything they’ve learned while giving themselves time to relax and do activities. Each student learns at his/her own pace and there is no homework given. The feeling of accomplishment from conquering a challenge forms part of the base of a child’s self-esteem, which also spawns a love of learning.
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