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There's a growing suspicion that something is wrong with 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).
Simple tasks of memorization and practice were easy for children to do at home, and the belief was that such mental exercise disciplined the mind. schools has evolved from the once simple tasks of memorizing math facts or writing spelling words to complex projects.
Homework has generally been viewed as a positive practice and accepted without question as part of the student routine. As the culture has changed, and as schools and families have changed, homework has become problematic for more and more students, parents, and teachers.
Yet the historical arguments on both sides are familiar.
They bear a striking similarity to the arguments waged in today's debate over homework.
In 1900, the editor of the Ladies' Home Journal, Edward Bok, began a series of anti-homework articles.
He recommended the elimination of homework for all students under the age of 15 and a limit of one hour nightly for older students.
The Internet and bookstores are crowded with books offering parents advice on how to get children to do homework.
Frequently, the advice for parents is to "remain positive," yet only a handful of books suggest that parents should have the right to question the amount of homework or the value of the task itself.