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The End of Homework: How Homework Disrupts Families, Overburdens Children, and Limits Learning Hardcover – July 17, 2000

19 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In this brief but thoroughly researched treatise on the evils of homework, Kralovec, a teacher and teacher educator, and Buell, an author and former editor of the Progressive, argue persuasively for a fresh look at the homework debate. Most parents take for granted that a greater amount of homework leads to higher academic achievement and thus better life chances later on. But the easy correlation between homework and achievement remains an unproven assumption, and the cost of overburdening students may be too high. This book suggests that children's growth and development might be better served by more opportunities for leisure time, social relationships, pursuing extra-curricular interests, sharing household chores or just simply playing. The growing class divide in the U.S., as well as increasing corporate demands on our lives, serve as theoretical backdrop for this book. One of the great American myths is that schools can "correct for the damage done by a highly iniquitous class structure," yet Kralovec and Buell make a compelling case for the idea that there are educational "mechanisms in place that serve to make the system less workable for poor and working class kids." Furthermore, assigning homework increases the achievement gap between wealthy students with leisure and those who have children of their own, younger siblings to care for, after-school jobs or crowded, noisy living conditions. The authors even argue that an increase in homework is a major reason for the escalating high school dropout rate in this latter group. The critical analysis of consumerism and corporate values may displease some, but this book will satisfy those who have begun to question the advanced intrusion of school, state and business into personal and community lives. (Aug.)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

This provocative book is one of the first publications linking homework with school reform. Reviewing the inadequate studies that have been conducted and citing historical documents on both sides of the debate, Kralovec, a former teacher, and Buell, an author and former editor of the Progressive, question the value of home work, providing a compelling argument that schools must educate children without over-relying on homework and extracurricular activities. Since the burden of teaching has been shifted from the classroom to the parents, the authors advocate for the reform of homework and its role, suggesting that homework negatively affects children from low-income families, where parents work all day and then return home only to be faced with intimidating volumes of their children's homework. They are simply not able to provide the same quality of guidance to their children as higher-income parents, who are usually more educated. These controversial ideas will certainly challenge both educators and parents.
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Beacon Press (July 17, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0807042188
  • ISBN-13: 978-0807042182
  • Product Dimensions: 8.6 x 5.8 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,589,798 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

79 of 86 people found the following review helpful By Daryl Anderson VINE VOICE on July 9, 2001
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book might turn out to be the "shot heard round the (educational) world." After all, right up there with Harry Potter's "he-who-must-not-be-named", is that-which-should-not-be-mentioned: HOMEWORK! This is a book for parents, for teachers and for school authorities who think its time we started talking about the darker side of homework.
I write this review as a father of four and as a teacher of, roughly, 125 youngsters each year. Under the former hat I've always found that my kids manage their homework load and doubtless "do better" in school because of the time they put into it. But wearing the latter hat I would have to absolutely agree that the authors, one a teacher of 12 years, have initiated an important and necessary discussion that needs to take place in America's homes, schools and legislatures.
Every teacher I know understands that anywhere from one-fifth to one-third of the students we spend our days with do not have both pieces of the homework compound word. The schools provide the "work", the kids are supposed to provide the "home."
But, at Kralovec and Buell make clear, so often "home" is, a sad and challenging combination of "dad's place Monday, mom's place Tuesday", or "mindin' my niece", or (in my rural district) a corner in a 60-by-12 trailer shared with five others and two televisions, or dodging bottles, or just trying to figure out what to do with so many sad or angry people in your life. We KNOW that if we took some metric like annual family income, or square-footage of home, or some measure of "intact" families and lined them up top-to-bottom next to grades or averages we'd find a pretty close correlation. A large body of research supports this fact.
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43 of 45 people found the following review helpful By "avocado-girl" on January 3, 2002
Format: Paperback
I write this as a former child and recently retired library worker.
I was 11 years old when Sputnik went up in 1957, and I remember very well it's impact on education. I went through elementary shcool with no homework and plenty of time to walk to the local library and read books of my own choosing on which I did not have to write reports. I developed the lifelong habit of reading for pleasure. As described in this book, Sputnik launched a national panic about education and the homework was piled on. By ninth grade, I was lugging at least four very heavy textbooks home every night, and agonizing over whether I could do my homework and also read the books that interested me. Homework was never about the free exploration of ideas! It was about obedience.

While working in the library, I was dismayed to see how few children read for their own pleasure. They always have to write a report. Many times their assignments don't make sense, and they are always more concerned with figuring out what their teachers want than with discovering their own interests and abilities or, for that matter, finding the truth about the subject at hand.
The authors do a very good job of making the point that homework interferes with the personal development of children and youth. I also agree with their political views, and think that even those who don't will find them thought-provoking.
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43 of 46 people found the following review helpful By Jill Levien on September 2, 2000
Format: Hardcover
How nice to find a book that questions the value of homework. As the mother of three children, 12, 9 and 6 I have seen the damage homework can do to children's enthusiasm for learning and to my relationship with them. Children need free time to explore their own interests and to figure out who they are. Homework will not solve the too much TV and Video Game problem, but it will quell children's innate desire to explore their world and find out who they are.
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47 of 51 people found the following review helpful By sam sochet on August 20, 2000
Format: Hardcover
As an educator for a decade and a half, I have always believed that assigning homework is an essential aspect of educating my students. It has almost come to a point where not assigning homework on a regular basis is almost unthinkable. Regardless, along comes a book that should make all eductators reexamine how homework fits into the overall education of our young people. The authors not only indicate that homework may not help students, they actually imply that it may in fact do more harm than good! This I find a bit hard to believe, but they do make a very convincing argument. Whatever your surface reaction is to this book, it would behoove all teachers to read this book with an open mind. It could transform you into a better teacher, or at least one with a greater appreciation for what students go through.
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30 of 32 people found the following review helpful By ECLL on October 20, 2000
Format: Hardcover
I just finished this book, and I thought I'd come and give an 8th grader's perspective on this. First of all, I agree with the major ideas. I truly believe that kids need much more free time than we get, and I have often found myself wondering, "what's the point of this??" while doing my homework. I complete my homework anyway, yet I hardly ever recieve praise for it. What I do hear is criticism from the teachers to the many kids that don't do their homework. I bet that many of the reasons given in this book are, in fact, the reasons my classmates don't do their homework. The two authors very clearly point out that homework is really not beneficial (and also, as a side issue, that kids' backpacks are too heavy) I am under a lot of homework-induced stress, and teachers don't seem to understand the effects of the piles and hours of work we get each day. Teachers seem to think that, if they don't give us homework, we'll go play video games for three hours. I know many kids that won't. I, for one, would call some friends that I don't see often, and see how they're doing. I'd practice my trumpet for a nice long time. And, maybe, I'd go outside and just stare at the sky. I believe that social relationships are as important, if not more important, than mindless facts about the Revolutionary War (i.e. How long was Paul Revere's ride?). I have no time to focus on these social realtionships, though, as I am yet another overscheduled kid. All in all, I really like this book and its message, and I really hope that some people read this book and make some changes in schoolwork assigned to the home.
An update--This book had such a major effect on my 8th grade language arts teacher, I had to come back here and edit my review. After he read this book, he stopped assigning mindless homework.
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