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The Case for Homework

This fall, the start of the new school year seemingly brought with it a trend of teachers forgoing homework assignments in order to allow their students more time outside of school for family and play. A number of these announcements took off on social media, with many parents supporting the stance and wishing that their own child's teacher would follow suit. While few would dispute the importance of family and play time for young children, it may be shortsighted to believe that eliminating homework altogether is the answer.

"All children should be doing homework," says Duke University Professor Harris M. Cooper, who has researched and wrote on the topic for over 25 years. While Cooper acknowledges that an excess of homework is both unnecessary and potentially detrimental, the upside of homework is too great to ignore. Not only is it important in reinforcing skills learned during the school day, it also teaches time management, study skills, and independent learning, as well as keeps parents connected to their children's learning.

"Really good homework assignments" in subjects such as math and science, says Cooper, also highlight skills children use in other areas of their life — in sports, games, and everyday tasks like grocery shopping with their parents. "A really good teacher is one that takes the skills that [their students] are learning in the abstract — or more abstract — in their classroom, and uses homework to show them these are the skills they need to enjoy things they do even more," says Cooper.

In this edition of the Harvard EdCast, Cooper evaluates the dissatisfaction with homework practices and discusses all of the reasons why, for children, homework is essential.

About the Harvard EdCast EdCast RSS FeediTunes one-click subscription

The Harvard EdCast is a weekly series of podcasts, available on the Harvard University iTunes U page, that features a 15-20 minute conversation with thought leaders in the field of education from across the country and around the world. Hosted by Matt Weber, the Harvard EdCast is a space for educational discourse and openness, focusing on the myriad issues and current events related to the field.


An education podcast that keeps the focus simple: what makes a difference for learners, educators, parents, and communities

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