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By the 5th grade, many students left school for work; fewer continued to high school (Kralovec & Buell, 2000).In the lower grades, school focused on reading, writing, and arithmetic; in grammar school (grades 5 through 8) and high school, students studied geography, history, literature, and math.
There's a growing suspicion that something is wrong with homework.
This more critical view represents a movement away from the pro-homework attitudes that have been consistent for decades (Kralovec & Buell, 2000).
(The research on homework is discussed in Chapter 3.) Although many people remain staunchly in favor of homework, a growing number of teachers and parents alike are beginning to question the practice.
These critics are reexamining the beliefs behind the practice, the wisdom of assigning hours of homework, the absurdly heavy backpack, and the failure that can result when some students don't complete homework.
Many school districts across the United States voted to abolish homework, especially in the lower grades: In the 1930s and 1940s, although few districts abolished homework outright, many abolished it in grades K–6.
In grades K–3, condemnation of homework was nearly universal in school district policies as well as professional opinion.The history of homework and surrounding attitudes is relevant because the roots of homework dogma developed and became entrenched over the last 100 years.Attitudes toward homework have historically reflected societal trends and the prevailing educational philosophy of the time, and each swing of the pendulum is colored by unique historical events and sentiments that drove the movement for or against homework.At the same time, labor leaders were protesting working conditions for adults, advocating for a 40-hour workweek.Child labor laws were used as a justification to protect children from excessive 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.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).Simple tasks of memorization and practice were easy for children to do at home, and the belief was that such mental exercise disciplined the mind. schools has evolved from the once simple tasks of memorizing math facts or writing spelling words to complex projects.Homework has generally been viewed as a positive practice and accepted without question as part of the student routine. As the culture has changed, and as schools and families have changed, homework has become problematic for more and more students, parents, and teachers.