Why We Should Get Rid Of Homework – Part One

(The following is an excerpt from my newly-released book, POOR CHEATED LITTLE JOHNNY)

Schools think that your student has nothing but time. They believe that your student’s time really is their time, that it belongs to them. What’s more, they also believe that the student’s parent’s time belongs to them, too. They believe that the student’s teacher is also the parent’s boss. They must believe these things! How else can one explain their bold-faced assignment of daily homework?

We’ve discussed this in some detail earlier. Being a student is the young person’s “job”. They have their regular hours, just as you and I do for our jobs, especially when we work for others. But then, horror of horrors, homework! Poor Little Johnny spends six hours in school only to discover that he will be working for three more hours at home, on yet more math or whatever.

What’s more, since poor Johnny is struggling with math, poor mommy and daddy are expected to drop everything and help poor Johnny with the homework that’s been assigned. And what’s more – this sort of homework is assigned every single school day. During such “important” events as…um…science fair…well, mommy and daddy will probably be the ones making most of Johnny’s science project anyway, so I hope you had no plans for the next two weeks. Let’s see if you can pass science, mommy.

And woe to Little Johnny should he protest having homework! “What was that? Johnny, you had other plans? You were going to find out more about chess, and practice guitar, and play baseball with your friends? But no! So sorry, Johnny. We know you’re young, but, well, work is work… We teachers must demonstrate to the parents and our administrators how hard working we really are, so we have to assign you homework. What, Little Johnny? Homework just demonstrates how hard working we can make you? Ha-ha, Little Johnny, you’re a funny boy. A funny, clever boy, aren’t you, Little Johnny? Let’s see how smart you really are, Little Johnny. Can you spell
‘d-e-t-e-n-t-i-o-n?’ Now, those hundred math problems are due tomorrow. Report cards are next week! Better get cracking.”

Ugh.

As mentioned earlier, you would never allow a boss paying you by the hour to force you to do work at home every night, three hours a night, certainly not without additional perks coming your way. If such extra work was to be mandated by your employer as a condition of keeping your job, you’d likely quit. And that is precisely what students do in regards to school, BY THE MILLIONS.

This is not hypothetical. This is exactly how it is.

We want Little Johnny to learn. Being young should largely be about discovering the world and one’s self. The more of the student’s life that is beyond his control or volition, the more his actions become simply a form of slavery and not educative.

Slaves don’t like their masters.

Slaves don’t want to work, because they accrue no benefit from their effort. They long for an escape. Some slaves find an escape and move on to greener pastures. Some simply drown and never recover from slavery, living in one form or another of that condition for the rest of their lives.

What do you see in your child’s future? What would you like to see?

You should not see a slave. You should not wish to see your child preparing for a life in which they are forever bound to do as others tell him or her because “that’s how it is”.

A “goer-alonger” never leads.

A slave rarely contributes much of substance to their own life or to others. And do not kid yourself about this – homework is almost always a form of enforced labor. Homework is “busy-work”, and an indication of failure on the part of a school, teacher or educational system, even if the blame for the need for extra work is deflected to the student.

If a school can’t get Little Johnny through the requirements in their allotted and ample time, it should be fired. You would fire an employee who could not get their work done each work day. Why retain such teachers and administrators?

Your child’s future should first and foremost be his or hers. The student’s life and future belong to the student and not to the school. The student’s present belongs to the student, too, or at least it should.

Accordingly, considering a child’s future, one should ideally see it as an extension of the present. In the present, your child should be learning “required” subjects within reason. They should also have time and opportunity to explore their own interests. They should have time to develop skills that they wish to develop. They should be able to find out about all the varieties of krill, if that is their passion. They should have time to memorize every song from every musical ever written (as I did), or to master Photoshop in order to create works of art out of digital photos, or to learn about and do WHATEVER THE STUDENT IS INTERESTED IN!

Using one’s own time as one sees fit, particularly to develop one’s life and future, should be the student’s life today and tomorrow, and to quote poor, abused Shakespeare, tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow.

Subjects that a student studies and becomes excited about today should be his livelihood and his passion for the rest of his days. Developing expertise in any area takes practice, opportunity and time.

If he is never allowed the liberty and is not provided the necessary support to experience and discover things, then the student’s primary interests are likely to be TV, perhaps family and friends, social interaction, e-games, and getting out of whatever 9-5 job that he gets stuck with.

That’s an unfortunate way to live a life.

A life inspired by interests, passions and skills is certain to be more fun, more rewarding, and more of a contribution to the world at large.

What your student is allowed time to discover today may well be critical to his future. And every hour taken from the free and supported pursuit of his real interests is more than an hour of slavery, it is also a nail in the coffin of that student’s potentially bright future.
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As you probably know, I am an advocate for homeschooling. It’s my belief that homeschooling potentially provides a student with a vastly superior education than schooling in any form. This is backed up by a lot of numbers and research. I’ve taught for public and private schools, at the University level, as a private instructor in thousands of workshops, and as a homeschool dad running a homeschool group. Homeschooling by far works best for most students- and most families.

But I understand that many parents do not believe they can effectively homeschool. They’ve been told that they “don’t have degrees,” and that they “aren’t qualified.” This is all nonsense, of course. You’re legally not required to have any kind of a degree to homeschool your kids anywhere in the U.S. A lot of people who have degrees and who call themselves “professional teachers” are simply awful, and even destructive at what they do. A lot of parents…hundreds that I know of…have homeschooled their kids right into universities and careers.

In a serious effort to make homeschooling easier to do, and more commonly successful in terms of education received, I’ve authored my own curriculum. It took some 15,000 hours to write, over more than a decade of work, and is intended to replace the need for schooling a student from age 5-Adult Continuing Education. The curriculum is called Steps (or “CTT”). It has been used by over 20,000 students worldwide over the past 10 years. Hundreds of “success stories” attest to how well CTT works.

CTT courses are written in a way that gradually allows the student to take over his own education. Each course itself largely does the teaching, relieving mom and dad of that duty unless they wish to use our daily lesson plans in various subjects as springboards for family discussion and discovery – as many families do, every day. The parent has the job of making certain the student is working and has what they need to study. (And you’ll need to find a good math program for homeschooling as we don’t provide one. There are many.)

Below are links to our site discussing each level of curriculum, and every subject at that level that we offer. (You can start any level at any time. We don’t have “semesters” that start at a certain time, and each course stands alone well.) You’ll find free videos describing how every subject and each level works. You’ll discover free samples of every course we offer. Our site offers many other services and surprises, including numerous free courses you can download and try out.

Starter is for ages 5-6, and for preliterate students of any age. It focuses on starting to develop literacy skills, while teaching about various subjects. Starter includes full two-year programs in Reading, History, Science, Creative Writing, and Living Your Life, courses that develop life and study skills for the youngest students. Every lesson plan at the Starter level works to develop literacy.

Elementary is for ages 7-8, and for students who are developing literacy. It includes two-year programs in Reading and Spelling, History, Science, Creative Writing (which also teaches the parts of language at this level), and Living Your Life courses which develop life and study skills in preparation for more advanced studies to come.

Lower School (ages 9-10) offers two-year programs in Study Essentials, Reading and Spelling, History, Science, Creative Writing, P.E. Electives, and in various arts such as Animation, Music Theory, and Acting. At this level, students must read fairly well, and studies are progressively turned over to the student.

Upper School (ages 11-High School, and Adult Continuing Education) provides programs in Study Essentials, Reading and Spelling, History, Science, Creative Writing, Current Events, Literature Guides, P.E. Electives, and in arts such as Animation, Acting, Music Theory, and Music History.

For parents who wish to teach at home, but are intimidated at the thought, and for parents who just wish to improve the homeschool experience, we offer a ten course homeschool program for homeschool teachers, as well as several books about education and homeschooling today.

We want you and your children to win with homeschooling!

33 comments for “Why We Should Get Rid Of Homework – Part One

  1. Barbara
    November 10, 2010 at 12:36 am

    I so enjoyed this article. Thanks so much for all your writing! You have a great way of stating ideas so clearly and effectively. Life! Let’s give our children a life!

  2. signatueladyjef
    September 18, 2011 at 8:04 am

    This article was good advice w/a nice seed for thought.
    I’m a homeschool mom & some of my children go to
    Public school also, I completely understand!

  3. November 3, 2011 at 7:25 am

    Yeah, well, not everyone can make a living in a rock band. We all have to learn things that are hard that we don’t want to do. And public education doesn’t have the resources to be with your student full time. So parents have to finish the day, helping them with work that there wasn’t time to do in school. The primary people responsible a child’s education are the child’s parents. I totally understand the frustration – I feel it too. But it is necessary – and I’d never tell my children homework isn’t important!

  4. November 3, 2011 at 8:03 am

    Hi, Dallin,

    Who was talking about rock bands, Dallin? In your mind, is it “being in a rock band” to pursue one’s own interests? Because without that quality, we would have had no Abe Lincoln, George Washington, Thomas Edison, no United States, and on and on. (Dallin, were you not allowed to follow up on your own interests as a child, or perhaps as an adult? Are you passing this failure along to your own children? If so, stop it. They didn’t do that to you.)

    Nope, Public Schools cannot be with our children “full time” – thank God! Kids cry out with joy as they escape those prisons – only to discover that their “cell” extends to home, with homework. And by the way, Dallin – might you be a teacher yourself? Good likelihood.

    Homework IS UNIMPORTANT, folks. What IS important is that we’re talking about young people and children who deserve and require time and opportunity to discover themselves and their interests – those are the things they will be living with the rest of their lives, not “new math”. Homework is much worse than unimportant, – it’s destructive for the child, the family, and even the school that is admitting its failure every time it sends work home. It is also almost entirely a control mechanism used by schools to control families and make them believe that school is so important, it should control their private lives.

  5. January 3, 2012 at 5:10 pm

    It was the “homework” that pushed me over the edge and got us to Homeschool. Afterwords spending countless hours teaching my children during homework all that they were suppose to learn at school, watching them shut down and stop thinking because of exhaustion. Or how about doing the math myself because it is 10:30pm and we all need to go to bed, we did everything in our power to get them out of public school.

    There is no homework needed if they are taught effectively during proper school hours. My daughters are starting their own businesses and are moving on with their lives while understanding hard work and independence.

  6. Jemma
    January 27, 2012 at 1:03 pm

    Another fab piece, inspirational.

    I intend to HS our two children when they are ‘of age’ and I fully intend to allow my daughters the time and freedom to develop their passions in life. It is only now, at 28 years old, that I have found my passion (after horrid school life, being bullied and the like) and even though I have a college degree etc etc, I have never used it. I now own my own (new) business for all things children and I I really love it. I firmly believe that we should keep our children ‘children’ for as long as possible as they grow up far too quickly and part of the appeal of HS to us is that it will enable our children to remain children and ENJOY their childhood instead of being forced to be places, with people and do things that they hate. Having experienced this first hand, I NEVER want my children to suffer the same.

  7. January 27, 2012 at 1:58 pm

    Hi Jemma,

    To which I can only add “Amen”.

  8. Bill Dilworth
    February 12, 2012 at 2:00 pm

    I think some homework is beneficial and even necessary, though – in learning a foreign language, for example, practice outside the classroom is imperative, and an English teacher who gave over class after class to reading a novel, rather than having the students do at least some of the reading outside the classroom and discussing it in class, would be accused of wasting class time.

    Some teachers are opposed to homework in general, though. A real source of pressure for the to assign it. Parents, ironically enough. Any time homework drops off in a classroom there are guaranteed to be some parents upset that their children aren’t being challenged enough.

  9. February 12, 2012 at 6:48 pm

    Hi Bill,

    Not 100% sure what you’re trying to say. I get that you think some homework is a good thing, using reading a novel in class as an example. I believe if students read that novel in class as a group, out loud, a paragraph at a time per student, then onto the next paragraph and student – while being corrected for words they did not understand or mispronounced – they would learn to read quickly and well. I believe it because, effectively that was how I learned in first grade, using a system called word recognition. I could NOT read when I started, at all. By the time I finished that year I was tested out at many hundreds of words per minute with 100% comprehension. It’s just a fact.

    Yes, you’re right, some parents insist of homework. They are parents not taking enough responsibility for their own children, usually, and are looking for the school to “run” their child, even during the student’s “at home” time. Or they are parents who do not seem to get that a kid needs time to discover his own passions, develop skills, locate interests which will sustain him throughout his life. Either way, they have it wrong.

    As to foreign language, practice is great – but does not need to take the form of “homework”, per-say, regimented and structured. For a long time, language “immersion” has been the recommended way to learn a language, according to many experts. That could easily be done (and realistically be done with a teacher who was fluent) in class time ONLY, unless there is a near-by community that speaks the language in question.

    Thanks for writing, though, I appreciate your thoughtfulness.

  10. mrs. revolutionary
    March 19, 2012 at 11:05 pm

    I am totally agreeing with Steven. That’s how I felt as parents. Are we at the mercy of the school?!! A customer is at the mercy of a service provider?! We are paying the schools to teach our children..only to find out that they haven’t discussed a particular subject matter and obliged them to do a homework self-study? WHAT???!!!! I am not going to apologize for saying this— homework sucks! let our children rest at home–let them relax.

  11. March 20, 2012 at 7:58 am

    Or let them study subjects that thrill them, and that will help define their future. Let them study those subjects in a manner that really does work for each particular student. Let the child have a real say in how his time is spent, and what he will become.

  12. March 27, 2012 at 4:55 am

    If we ask children what they want to know about in school and then exploring that instead of telling them what they need to know about and then making them do more of it, they would WANT to spend more time learning about it where ever they are. We need to make it learning not work!!

  13. March 27, 2012 at 7:22 am

    Thanks, Norman. The learning we long to see happen should always benefit the child – it is FOR the child, after all. We are not educating a child to please a parent, a teacher, or a system. We are educating him to help him prepare for adult life – and to help him enjoy the life that he will lead. In short, it’s the child’s education and he should have quite a bit to say about the subjects he studies as he gets older.

  14. Fawn Nguyen
    April 6, 2012 at 10:26 am

    I teach middle school math at a public school. Maybe I don’t care to assign homework either, but as is there is already a considerable achievement gap in math among 6th graders. This gap only widens if there is no intervention. Not saying homework is the intervention, but do you have solutions to offer to close this gap? Or maybe closing the gap is not the goal here at all, but it’s certainly a goal of many school districts.

    The kids who do their homework diligently score better on tests. Should we get rid of tests too then? Test scores and grades play a big part in college admission. That’s a whole another topic.

    Kids should be allowed to explore and do what they love. I absolutely agree! However, maturity plays a vital role here, often kids do not know what they want to do, thus you hear, “I’m bored” and/or they glue themselves to the television or video games hours on end. Now it’s really a parental issue. I get that.

  15. April 6, 2012 at 11:03 am

    Hi Fawn, thanks for the thoughtful response. You’ll find your answers in other articles on this blog, including The Failure of the Critical Approach to Education. Yes, testing should go away, other than the tests that life will throw at our children – the only tests that matter. What a child can do – even what he’s learned – cannot be determined by school testing. All that tells us is how well a child can memorize useless info and regurgitate it on cue. It does not demonstrate understanding or an ability to use what’s learned in life, which is a prime purpose of education.

    Yes, maturity does play a role. I believe that when a child is young they should first be taught to read very well. Then they should be exposed to many, many subjects to the point where they develop a cursory understanding of each. Those subjects that attract a specific child’s interests should be followed up on. Other should be dropped. That includes math. If a person needs math later in life, they will learn it. I was close to a straight-A student in High School, but I learn far more quickly and thoroughly now than I did then. I think you’ll find that’s true for most people. The older you get, the more aware you become of which questions, which points are important in understanding a subject.

    We should not be “labeling” children. The “gap
    ” you mention is not important to a child who does not like math, and will not use it much in life. It is only important to a child who wants to do math – and such children rarely fall behind in math. In fact, following my approach, such students would be freed up to excel, to learn at a far more accelerated rate rather than being held back by their classmates who may not excel as they do. Each student should be allowed to work at his own rate. Each student, once a subject is understood in its basics, should be allowed to continue, or drop the subject for another day or for forever. (I suggest that most kids who really do math homework and do better on tests are kids who like math to some degree.)

    You’re asking good questions, far better than most “teachers” who write me! Thanks!

  16. April 8, 2012 at 11:26 pm

    I applaud you for what you say. I’m a professor of education and research does NOT support homework (neither did I as a teacher…and I certainly don’t as a parent). Here’s my beef with homework: Those who have already mastered the work don’t need it. Those who haven’t mastered the work need a TEACHER (which you can’t assume they have at home with the time, energy, motivation, and skills necessary). Having said that, I do think we should ask that everyone (children and adults) read for 15-20 minutes a day.
    Rhia

  17. April 9, 2012 at 6:35 am

    Hi Rhia,

    Agreed about homework being unnecessary, and I do like how you put it. No, mom and dad MAY not have the expertise (and they may, by the way, have far more expertise in a given subject than a “teacher” with a degree in education and not in that particular subject, nothing personal intended given your own degree, truly), but mom and dad can secure help. When my son struggled with math, his Uncle Richard (my brother) stepped into the breach, a computer programmer with extensive understanding of that subject. That was a blessing, as dad (me) stinks at algebra on up.

    Homeschooling (and education) is not and should not always about the one parent/student model, that’s the hardest way to do it, I think. Same with “homework”, which should not exist. If it must be done at all (it shouldn’t), then if help is needed it should be secured. If parents can’t sufficiently provide, it’s up to them to get someone in there who can.

    Everyone SHOULD read every day, I certainly agree with the sentiment! We should all learn every day. (I also believe that reading is just about the only subject that young students, say up through age five or so, should be taught. Almost all education is enhanced or limited by the student’s literacy. It comes first.) It can’t be required in any way, or we empower “schooling” over education, and education is the real and necessary objective. Thanks for writing!

  18. July 10, 2012 at 1:28 pm

    Ask any public children’s librarian about homework and watch smoke come out of their ears. Time and time grade school kids come in with impossible assignments. Obviously their teachers have never set foot in the library. I was asked for a biography of Muddy Waters on a first grade level, for example. One second grade teacher told every kid in her class to select a book on a different kind of spider.

    At the same time teachers are not encouraging kids to just read any of the hundreds of excellent books any librarian could suggest.

    My oldest daughter escaped homework until the fifth grade. It is no accident that, out of 4 girls, she is the biggest reader.

    Maybe we all need bumper stickers–end child abuse, abolish homework

  19. July 10, 2012 at 4:23 pm

    Hi Cassandra,

    Have any of those teachers ever been IN a library? I like your bumper sticker idea a lot! Thanks!

  20. Lil
    July 24, 2012 at 10:59 am

    This is an interesting idea to me. It’s given me a thought, and a question I’d like to run past you. I grew up in public school and actually had very little homework until I got to High School and started taking college credit classes and even then it was mostly just after school labs. Anyway, this was before inclusion was pushed. Students who were very advanced and students who were behind had their own classes. Average students also had their own classes, so no matter what class you were in, you made progress at pretty much the same speed. The students made uniform progress and none were lagging behind, slowing down the pace of the class for the others, or speeding it up so that other students were lost or giving up and having to make up the work at home that they couldn’t do at school. I know you don’t like public schools but it sounds like inclusion could be the root of some of the things you don’t like. It seems that if a teacher can get through all she is intending to teach, there wouldn’t be a need for homework. I’m not trying to start an inclusion battle on here, this was just something that occurred to me as I read the article. I understand that homeschooling would be ideal because all instruction could be tailored to an individual child but if homeschooling wasn’t an option for a family it seems that if they divided up their students into groups of similar abilities/interests it might help with getting through all of the material. Any thoughts?

  21. July 25, 2012 at 10:27 am

    Hi, Lil,

    Some interesting thoughts. I would agree that inclusion is a problem, as you describe it, and I’ve suggested in writing many times that children should not be grouped by age, but rather by ability and interests. Your solution is very similar to a part of what I’ve suggested in many blogs and my books. That said, homework is only one of the evils of schooling, and as I gather you’ve read a few posts here, you know I feel that way. The entire methodology of “schooling” is based on criticism and control of the student (and his family). This manifests in things like homework, but also in grading, report cards, testing, student evaluations, and in many other ways. It is astonishingly destructive. It needs to go.

    That said, yes, I do think students should be grouped (when grouped) by interests and skill level. I think study should be set up so that each student can succeed. It should not be a competition in any way. It should be empowering to the student, not degrading. And yes…homeschooling works best. By far, What’s more, through various forms of homeschooling (such as homeschool groups), I believe that pretty much everyone can homeschool.

    Thanks for your thoughtful post!

  22. Petrina
    August 17, 2012 at 9:46 pm

    This is an interesting article. I agree that homework is just unnecessary. My kids started in school and even age 5 were bringing home homework once a week.
    My daughter loved to do it – she enjoys worksheets and similar but my son. Woah! That was a battle!!
    I am so glad we chose to take them out of school.
    Can I ask though. In the US is a public school one that anyone can go to and you don’t pay? It’s just that here in the UK a public school is a fee paying one.

    • August 18, 2012 at 7:04 am

      Hi, Petrina. Well, yes, public schooling in the U.S. is free….except to the taxpayer. It costs anywhere from $12,500 – $27,000 per student to keep our public schools open, to a total of around $550 Billion annually. But the student/family do not pay. We pay fees for private schools.

  23. John
    September 6, 2012 at 9:35 pm

    Especially for younger age groups, the idea that students should choose classes on their interests is misguided. When I was young, I had no real idea of what I was truly interested in. I probably would have said tv, video games and sports. For younger students, there needs to be a standard, well-rounded curriculum like the ones in place now. Otherwise, kids would be completely lost in the real world without this basic knowledge. If we were to let students choose classes only based on their interests in elementary school, engineers, scientists, etc. would largely become a thing of the past.

    Also, I think the author completely overstates how much of a burden homework is on students. Granted, there are some nights where we get a lot, but it definitely is not anywhere like 3 hours every night. It is usually very manageable if kids know how to handle their time.

    If you get rid of homework, kids will become extremely lazy and total slackers in life. School is not just some activity to go to for a few hours and forget about. It is building the foundation for life, work, business, and responsibilities. Speaking from personal experience, if you get rid of homework, literally NO ONE would care about school.

  24. September 7, 2012 at 8:33 am

    Hi John,

    I DO agree that younger students need to be exposed to a broad range of subjects, and say so in my books and in many articles – though who should select those subjects is a matter of contention. And John, we’re not all you. I knew by age 5 EXACTLY what I wanted to do when I grew up, and have spent the rest of my life doing it. There are many students who do not, I’ll give you that, so they must be exposed to a broad range of ideas and subjects – much broader than “what is in place now”, which is structured intentionally to limit the student’s interests and goals, as well as his or her abilities.

    And John – it IS three hours a night and longer for MANY students. I taught for LAUSD, and then in private schools for many years. I saw what was assigned for homework. (I taught in the arts and was able to avoid most homework.) I also saw what my own two children brought home. I’ve also spoken to literally hundreds of parents, students, and even teachers who absolutely agree that the homework burden is crushing, and who would sadly support my contention as to the time spent on it. What’s more, John, we’re trying to raise capable people who will live lives they want to live, doing things they are proud to do and that they are good at, for a living. The rest is drudgery, which I suspect you support based on all your comments. But most of us want and really must demand a life that is more than pre-designed drudgery.

    You make a ridiculously broad, sweeping statement when you say “kids will become extremely lazy…” Really? WHICH KIDS? Every child I know who has been given the time and support to discover his or her true interests has become very busy indeed, developing skills and understandings in the areas in which they are interested, and in which they may well with luck invest their lives. Yes, it IS about building foundations. You are NOT developing a sense of responsibility dictating terms and studies to a child. They develop a far superior sense of self and responsibility when they realize that their education is THEIRS, that they can make of it as they please, so long as they make something constructive of it. Almost every child I’ve taught – and I’ve taught many hundreds – rose to this challenge when freed to do so. Again, you generalize -“NO ONE would care about school”. Well – you’re wrong, of course, but let’s say you’re right for the sake of this discussion. No one will care about schools. Good, John. If school does not give one a reason to care, and homework is hardly that, then why SHOULD anyone care about it? I’m all for closing all the public schools down. Your personal experience is yours, and that’s fine. But it’s a very limited barometer of the truths of education today. Mine is the result of 40 years of teaching thousands of students. Nothing personal, but I’ll rely on my observations rather than your rather broadly stated but limited view.

  25. John
    September 7, 2012 at 6:51 pm

    While this may surprise you, I actually do have a much broader view than you think, as I am a recent high school graduate. I can personally attest to the fact that most children do not receive as much homework as you claim. Also, I went to a private school, which are known for giving more work than public schools.

    Also, I am having a hard time understanding how you think it would be a good idea to get rid of all public schools. I guess if you are born into a family that can’t afford private school or has no time for homeschooling, you are out of luck. No learning or future for you! Try to make it on the streets! Hope you survive! Yes, it does need fixing, but public school is a necessity for the betterment of society.

    Also, while it is great you knew what you wanted to be at 5, you are an anomaly. Almost all children have no idea what they want to do when they grow up. Heck, a lot of college students don’t even know! Especially when children are younger, it is important they learn the basics of learning (English, math, science, etc.) so they can be balanced individuals prepared for life and its challenges.

  26. September 7, 2012 at 7:36 pm

    Congratulations on graduating, John, and well done! You seem like a bright guy! That said, your view, though perhaps broad given your experience, is not “broader” than mine. It is in fact and by definition less experienced. You are not a teacher and have not taught. Your experience is YOUR experience as one student, and I commend you for making schooling work for you! Again, well done. But my experience embraces the work of thousands of students, not just one, not just my own experience. I’ve worked with and interviewed thousands of students, parents, and teachers. Hence, a broader view of the situation. And yes, SOME private schools issue a lot of homework. But some private schools refuse to issue much if any homework, as they have a more sane idea regarding the purpose of education and of schooling. I have worked with such institutions, and even used to run one.

    I advocate Universal Private Education, which comes in many forms. Private schools are one such form, and for people who insist on a school experience and who have a way to pay for the experience, so be it. But I tend towards various forms of homeschooling, especially homeschool GROUPS, small groups of families whose adults share the responsibility for “teaching”. This guarantees a diverse experience for students, and a level of commitment on the part of each parent that is easier to deal with than the conventional one parent-one parent homeschool model, which can be a very hard way to go. Homeschool Groups are also VERY inexpensive to run, at about $200-$300 per student per semester – not month, semester. Lots of parents successfully do exactly that.

    I firmly advocate UNIVERSAL education – for everyone, including the around 35-50% of ALL students who DROP OUT OF PUBLIC SCHOOLS for one of many reasons. For over 1/2 in many large cities, of the students public schools are supposed to be educating, schools have failed to the extent that the students are fleeing in very high numbers. They are NOT getting an education, though they DID go to a public school. And another option must be made available for them or they will, as you say, have no learning or future. Public schools are not an option for public schools, obviously. That leaves various forms of private education for around 1/3 – 1/2 of all the students.

    By the way, it is not at all unusual to know what you want to do at a very young age, even if you can’t quite name it. You may know you want to make art, or do sports, or run, or write, or sing. Later on, as you gain a better understanding of your options, these desires become distinct and clear. But many young people lose sight of their interests and dreams, and see them buried in a tidal wave of “required work”…from schools. They have no time and no freedom to follow up on their own interests, and are even discouraged from doing so. Don’t know you, John, but you might even be one such person. Maybe, maybe not.

    Yes you’re right, as I said earlier, very young students do need to be exposed to basics. But the only basics I strongly advocate for young students are reading and basic math. If they read well, the rest of their studies will succeed or at least have a chance.

    In the end, we disagree. I think public schools are killing children’s dreams, student’s hopes, and civilization at large, and that they have been doing so for decades. I think public schools destroy lives, and even ruin good teachers. There will always be exceptional students who are able to learn IN SPITE of school, and there will always be the few exceptional teachers, even in public schools. But they are very few, I’m afraid, and limited by a corrupt, failed system.

    The ability to confront life comes largely from confidence in who you are, what you are, and what you want to do. School has NEVER taught such things. Math isn’t life, John. Life is life.

    I wish you much success! I know you’ll do well.

  27. Matt
    December 10, 2012 at 8:37 am

    Great article,
    There is research to support homework, a meta-analysis done by Cooper (89) homework vs. No Homework and those who did the homework yielded better results on test. While I myself found too much time on my hands during after school, many people did not. Which is why I would like to ask,do you agree with the compensation that some public schools are starting to do by reducing homework to around 30 minutes per class? Mind you I am Canadian and am not aware of American culture and education, however do you think that some homework is better than no homework. (Some homework being enough not to cause stress, yet enough to give the student a satisfying summary of the days learning?)

    Thanks for taking the time to respond,
    Matt

    • December 10, 2012 at 9:50 am

      Hi Matt,

      Yes, well, “research” notwithstanding, the HUNDREDS of children and families I’ve spoken to will make the case that homework is very destructive of the family, that it is forced upon children preventing them from having much if any time to pursue their own interests, that it enforces the “approved” areas of study over other perhaps “elective” areas that would benefit a particular child more over the course of their life, etc. There are MANY objections to homework. No, I do not favor ANY homework except where the child WANTS it because he/she loves that subject, or where it is the kind of work that can only be done at night, such as counting stars. No homework, none at all. I want the public schools CLOSED. Not interested in empowering them to control a child’s life (and his family) even after the school day has ended. Thanks for writing.

  28. February 24, 2013 at 7:54 pm

    Interesting thoughts on homework. Just stumbled across your site. It is entirely true that three hours of homework per night is far too much, but there is something to be said for some practice at home. I don’t think it is necessarily the practice of assigning homework that is so terrible; rather, it is the policies surrounding homework that sometimes get a bit unwieldy. As a classroom teacher, I view homework as simply another way to assess students (formatively, not for a “grade”). I encourage my parents to provide as little help as possible in order to limit stress and provide me with some data upon entering the classroom. In addition, I believe that, if homework is assigned, it is never to be graded. It is viewed as practice.

    Kids need practice, and practice in a different setting truly shows whether or not they are able to accomplish tasks on their own. In the homeschool setting, of course providing extra homework would be superfluous. However, in the homeschool setting, you are also able to provide tailored lessons to a select few. This is not the case in most classrooms. Please do remember, when speaking of public schooling, that the teachers there work very intently and with students’ best interests in mind. Public schooling and homeschooling are simply two forms of education, and dependent on the child and/or the family, one or the other may turn out to be the “better” alternative.

    Glad homeschooling is working well for you and your family.

    • February 24, 2013 at 9:15 pm

      Hi Paul,

      It is the assessment approach, the “critical approach”, that I am opposed to, as well as the use of homework to control a child’s life, his time, and his interests. It’s disgusting and needs to go,period. Kids DO need practice – at those things that interest them. But schools and school teachers decide for the student what they MUST be interested in, and what they MUST master, guided by national and local standards that are disconnected in every way from the individual student’s life and interests. Public schooling is NOT a form of education unless we consider indoctrination a form of education. I don’t. Set the kids free. As to what I “should remember” about public school teaching, I’ve been a teacher for 40 years, and did teach for one miserable year in public schools. What YOU need to remember, Paul, is that education is FOR the student, and hence it should ALWAYS be shaped to his individual needs and interests. Education as a career and a calling does not exist for you, or for any teacher. It is NOT FOR THE SCHOOL OR THE TEACHER. EDUCATION IS FOR THE STUDENT, PERIOD, END OF DISCUSSION. What you say is true – schools can’t do that. They cannot tailor education to the individual. That is just one of the many, many reasons they are doomed to fail the vast majority of children consigned to their “care.”

  29. Eric B.
    July 12, 2013 at 4:35 pm

    Publicly schooled all the way, I never had 3 hours of homework or received help doing my homework & various other school projects. As a public school teacher I rarely if ever assigned homework. The beginning of your article reads, therefore, as very anecdotal to me. I read a lot of your tweets, and you seem more prone to attacking “the other side” rather than talking up your own. You’re not a proponent of public schooling. Got it. I’d like to see more of the reasons why you love home schooling!

    Kinda reminds me of my brother. “I hate Obama, I hate Obama.” Great! Got it. What would you like to see happening instead?

    “I REALLY hate Obama!!”

    • July 12, 2013 at 5:11 pm

      Okay, Eric, well all I can do is roll my eyes. You did not read “a lot of my articles”, or you would have EASILY run into the endless stats and stories I tell to support homeschooling. Actually look before you comment, please, or don’t bother to comment again, I’ll just delete it.

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