Ex ore parvulorum veritas.

From the mouths of children--truth!

Pron = eks OH-ray pahr-woo-LOH-room WHER-ih-tahs

Comment: I am reading a book right now by Alfie Kohn called The
Homework Myth. It is his latest work, and he is an educational
researcher whose work I respect. I had the book on my desk this week
and students saw it. They wanted to know what it was about (they had
sniffed out that there might be something not quite right with
homework years ago).

I explained that while I was still reading the book, Kohn seems to be
making the case--by analyizing data and research--that there is no
evidence that homework provides students with anything really
positive, and that there is mounting evidence that it has negative
effects. Further, in spite of the anecdotal and clinical research to
the contrary, parents, teachers and educational institituions continue
to BELIEVE that daily homework is necessary in order to learn and be

Cheers went up in the room. Another student had another question:
Does this mean that you are going to stop giving homework? I told him
that I wanted to finish the book first, to see what the research
concludes, but that yes, that was my serious consideration. For years
now I have limited homework to 20 minutes and have a standing 20
minute rule--after 20 minutes of effort, a student may stop homework
for me, so I was already headed in the direction of homework not being
always positive--and certainly not hours of it.

Finally another student muttered under his breath--yeah, that will
happen in about 30 years. I got his attention and asked very
directly--why do you say that? His response: that's how adults
work--they say things and never follow through. I made a promise to
him and the class that if the evidence is laid before me that homework
is no good, that I would stop giving homework--immediately.

This last young man with the overdose of cynicism has learned his
cynicism well. As a young person, he sees the truth pretty clearly,
and has a reputation for saying it out loud. He has a history of
getting burned for it, too. By adults--the perfect formula for

On this issue of the truth about homework, Kohn documents the case
well--what little ones have known forever, what their parents find out
and then deny, what many teachers realize but feel powerless to stop
doing--homework is not necessary for learning, and it often interferes
with much more important things.

Bob Patrick
(Used with permission)
Latin Proverb of the Day Archive