Debate over homework comes to Columbus

The author of a new book claiming that homework is harmful to children says children would be better off spending their after-school time socializing or pursuing their passions.

But an Ohio State University professor takes issue with that notion pointing to new research says homework is a complex issue not easily characterized as “good” or “bad”.

We recently visited a local school to find out kids and teachers feel about homework. The still warm autumn sunshine streams through the classroom windows as members of the Grandview Heights Middle School council take a lunchtime meeting with their advisor Doug Page.

Most of the seventh and eighth grade student felt they had a reasonable and manageable amount of homework each day.

Eighth grade history teacher and Student Council advisor Doug Page acknowledges many students in this tiny suburban district are involved in extracurricular activities and teachers take that into account when they make homework assignments.

A few of the seventh and eight grade students at Grandview Heights Middle School had some issues with homework assignments. Fourteen-year old Time Sagowski is in the eighth grade.

Ohio State University College of Education professor Bruce Tuckman agrees with Tim. He says homework assignments should be interesting, meaningful, and not take an excessive amount of time or break students’ backs. He also says teachers should take the time necessary to correct the assignments.

Tuckman says educators agree homework assignments for elementary students should take about thirty minutes, and about an hour for middle school students. He says High School students should expect to spend an average of two hours on after school assignments.

But mother, lawyer and author of “A Case Against Homework”, Sara Bennett says that’s too much. She says kids should be spending after school time on activities they enjoy.

Grandview Heights Middle School student Sophia Reason says generally her homework assignments are manageable, but sometimes she gets stuck and has to help her parents for help.

“A Case Against Homework” author Sara Bennett says in addition to academic confusion, when parents routinely get involved in the homework process, the result is kids who are incapable of independent work.

O-S-U professor Bruce Tuckman says while many parents help their kids with their homework, many are disinclined or unable to help with assignments. Tuckman, who heads the Walter E. Dennis Learning Center on campus, says many students come to the university unprepared to do the work.

Tuckman says a brand new report in “The Review of Educational Research” says the effect of homework on student is too complex to be characterized as “good” or “bad” or “positive” and “negative”.

Still author Sara Bennett says parents can be effective advocates for their children when it comes to homework, especially if it’s causing a child to suffer undo stress.

“A Case Against Homework” was written by New York lawyer Sara Bennett and Nancy Kalish.

Marilyn Smith, WOSU News.