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As a result, a discussion of homework stirs controversy as people debate both sides of the issue.
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.
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.
The Internet and bookstores are crowded with books offering parents advice on how to get children to do homework.
Frequently, the advice for parents is to "remain positive," yet only a handful of books suggest that parents should have the right to question the amount of homework or the value of the task itself.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).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.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.(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.