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Utah teacher: assigned homework does not benefit kids

By Mary Richards | Posted - Jan 9th, 2013 @ 10:49am



FARMINGTON — After years in the classroom, a Utah educator is taking a stance on homework: he says it isn't needed, at least from a traditional standpoint.

Lynn Stoddard has years of experience as a teacher and administrator in northern Utah schools. Having written several books on the subject, he calls his approach "educating for human greatness."

"It's such a strong myth in our society that teacher assigned homework is good for kids," he said.

Stoddard argues that teacher-assigned homework is detrimental for a few reasons:

  • It is an excessive burden on parents.
  • It interferes with family activities.
  • It puts much stress on many students.
  • It makes less time for other beneficial interests.
  • It gives children an aversion to learning.

Instead, Stoddard said children should have self-chosen home study. He said they will start reading on a higher level than if it were assigned. "If you can get a child curious about something, you can't stop them from reading about it," he said.

According to Stoddard, children do too much memorizing for tests and then discard the information, instead of learning how to learn.

"Kids usually just learn it to pass the test and then they forget it immediately. They discard the information because they filed it in the "‘pass the test' file in their brain," he said.


Kids usually just learn it to pass the test and then they forget it immediately.

–Lynn Stoddard


If kids search for things that they are curious about in a more self-chosen home study, then they retain that information in their brain, Stoddard said, adding that it's time to look at individual children, instead of a standardized public system we have now.

Studies shown that too much homework is not beneficial to students, but many researchers still believe some amount of teacher-assigned homework is beneficial.

"Most small children and early adolescents have not yet developed the kind of self-reflective or self-monitoring skills to get the benefit out of either homework or self study," said Gerald Le Tendre, head of Penn State's Education Policy Studies department. "But as you move into high school, individuals are increasingly self-aware and can better self-monitor."

What is important, according to Le Tendre, is assigning homework with the student in mind, instead of the idea to just check off a worksheet.

"If the homework isn't addressing the child's actual academic problem, the child is going to continue to fall further behind and get hopelessly lost," he said.

Contributing: Stephanie Grimes

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