No Homework Form

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The Internet and bookstores are crowded with books offering parents advice on how to get children to do homework.

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Yet the historical arguments on both sides are familiar.

They bear a striking similarity to the arguments waged in today's debate over homework.

Teachers, overwhelmed by an already glutted curriculum and pressures related to standardized tests, assign homework in an attempt to develop students' skills and extend learning time.

At the same time, they are left frustrated when the students who most need more time to learn seem the least likely to complete homework.

The benefits of fresh air, sunshine, and exercise for children were widely accepted, and homework had the potential to interfere.

One hundred years ago, rather than diagnosing children with attention deficit disorder, pediatricians simply prescribed more outdoor exercise.

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.

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).

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