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Culture & Religion

New York Public School Abolishes Homework

Jane Hsu, principal of P.S. 116 in New York City, cites research that suggests students up until fifth grade would benefit more from playing and spending time with family. 

Students at a New York City public elementary school are pinching themselves this week after their principal announced that homework had been abolished. According to this report from DNA Info, the children — all pre-K to fifth grade — are instead being told to play, read books, and spend time with their families.

I can only imagine how awful the recently promoted sixth graders must feel.

Jane Hsu, principal of P.S. 116, cites research that suggests students of this age group would benefit more from non-homework activities. She says the school spent a year looking over various studies and concluded that there are better methods for fostering academic and personal success than through take-home assignments. Some of the school’s parents are countering with accusations that eliminating homework will stunt the development of healthy study habits. There’s also the worry that these formative years ought not to be wasted while children’s memories are still strong.

While it’s generally understood that too much homework at a young age can be detrimental, there’s also research pointing to the benefits that come with homework habits, in particular to kids with learning disabilities. An objective look at the research leads to the realization that the jury is still out on whether homework helps or hurts. In all likelihood, this just isn’t the sort of thing that can be generalized. Homework is not good for all; it’s not bad for all. So much depends on what each kid needs on an individual, case-by-case basis.

When the dust settles from the initial outrage, P.S. 116 will be a very interesting school to keep an eye on. Researchers will doubtlessly analyze whatever effects result from every student’s dream come true: the abolition of homework. Until then, kids across the country can keep their fingers crossed that P.S. 116 becomes the highest performing school in the world.

Read more at DNA Info.

Photo credit: Pressmaster / Shutterstock


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