Synopses & Reviews
Death and taxes come later; what seems inevitable for children is the idea that, after spending the day at school, they must then complete more academic assignments at home. The predictable results: stress and conflict, frustration and exhaustion. Parents respond by reassuring themselves that at least the benefits outweigh the costs. But what if they don't? In The Homework Myth, nationally known educator and parenting expert Alfie Kohn systematically examines the usual defenses of homework that it promotes higher achievement, reinforces learning, and teaches study skills and responsibility. None of these assumptions, he shows, actually passes the test of research, logic, or experience. So why do we continue to administer this modern cod liver oil or even demand a larger dose? Kohn's incisive analysis revels how a mistrust of children, a set of misconceptions about learning, and a misguided focus on competitiveness have all left our kids with less free time and our families with more conflict. Pointing to parents who have fought back and schools that have proved educational excellence is possible without homework Kohn shows how we can rethink what happens during and after school in order to rescue our families and our children's love of learning.
"Education watchdog and author Kohn (No Contest: The Case Against Competition) questions why teachers and parents continue to insist on overloading kids with homework when there are no definitive studies proving its overall learning benefits. Indeed, argues Kohn persuasively, homework can be detrimental to children 's development by robbing families of quality evening time together and not allowing a kid time simply to be a kid. Americans in general advocate a tough-going approach to education and push teachers to give more drudgery nightly as a way of 'building character.' Yet Kohn shows that doing forced busywork only turns kids off to school and kills intellectual and creative curiosity. The American insistence on producing good worker bees 'by sheer force or cleverness,' notes Kohn, 'reflects a stunning ignorance about how human beings function in the real world.' Kohn pursues six reasons why homework is still so widely accepted despite the evidence against it, including the emphasis on competitiveness and 'tougher standards' and a basic distrust of children and how they would fill their time otherwise if not doing busywork. There aren't enough case studies in Kohn's work, but Kohn sounds an important note: parents need to ask more challenging questions of teachers and institutions. (Sept.)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"The book...feels like homework, frankly. But...do it anyway. If you do, you'll see him chip away at the conventional thinking that homework improves achievement, that homework improves grades, that homework builds character and all the other things we've heard about it since we were doing it." San Diego Union-Tribune
"The book is a little dense at times but is well argued and will stimulate lots of discussion." Library Journal
"Whatever their opinions about homework, parents and teachers will find this book an interesting part of the debate." Booklist
A compelling expose of homework--its negative effects, why it's so widely accepted, and what we can do about it
In The Homework Myth, nationally known educator and parenting expert Alfie Kohn challenges the usual defenses of homework and shows that none of our assumptions about its benefits actually passes the test of research, logic, or experience
So why do we continue to administer this modern cod liver oil-or even demand a larger dose? Kohns incisive analysis reveals how a set of misconceptions about learning and a misguided focus on competitiveness has left our kids with less free time, and our families with more conflict. Pointing to stories of parents who have fought back-and schools that have proved educational excellence is possible without homework-Kohn demonstrates how we can rethink what happens during and after school in order to rescue our families and our childrens love of learning.
About the Author
Alfie Kohn is the author of ten previous books, including Punished by Rewards, The Schools Our Children Deserve, and Unconditional Parenting, which have helped to shape the thinking of parents and educators throughout the country and abroad. He lectures widely and has appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show, the Today show, and many other TV and radio programs. He lives with his family in the Boston area.