What it does, mainly, is acclimate students to the idea that people for whom they 'work' (teachers in school; bosses later) have the authority and the right to demand that take their 'work' home with them, so that later in life, when their employers require them to take work home with them for no additional recompense, they will be less inclined to complain, having become accustomed to it in their youth.
That's my opinion. I haven't written a book about it, though. Alfie Kohn has, and he asks: Why do schools keep giving more homework when research shows there's no correlation to academic achievement? The fallout, Kohn argues, is family conflict, frustrated kids, and a decreased joy in learning.
"No research has ever demonstrated any academic benefit to making kids do homework before they're in high school. Even in high school, there is only a weak correlation between standard measures of achievement and doing homework. What's more, there is no evidence that the two are causally related—that is, that kids who have better grades and test scores have them because they've had to do more academic assignments after a full day in school. Finally, there isn't a shred of evidence to demonstrate that homework has any nonacademic advantages, such as teaching self-discipline and responsibility or teaching kids good work habits."
They hate him in 'Discipline-ville,' where all the faded lights of "A Nation At Risk" still hang out. To make himself even further 'persona non grata', Kohn has also attacked the social fixation on 'competition' in school, arguing that it is destructive to the very project--learning--which school is 'supposed' to encourage.
I am a BEEEG fan of Alfie Kohn.
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