Why Is Homework Bad?

Critics of homework argue that it penalizes economically disadvantaged students, cuts down on family time, is often uninspired and makes learning a chore. Many academic studies also show that assigning homework offers little to no improvement in student learning.

In "The End of Homework," one of the first high-profile critiques of the practice, Etta Kralovec and John Buell argue that homework unfairly penalizes lower-income students. These students often have chaotic home lives that make completing homework assignments difficult or impossible. Additionally, the parents of these students are often less able or willing to help them with homework assignments.

Other critics paint homework as a burdensome practice, assigned out of habit with little relevance to actual student learning. Assignments are often characterized by tedious busywork that does little to reinforce learning and cuts down on time spent with the family. Gerald LeTendre and David Baker, two Penn State professors, conducted an international study on the correlation between the amount of homework assigned and a country's scores on standardized math tests. They found that countries that assigned the most homework typically had the lowest scores, while the highest scores came from countries that assigned the least homework. Some researchers, such as Alfie Kohn, argue not for the complete end of homework, but for assignments that are actually beneficial to students and involve activities in the home, such as cooking or reading with other family members.