Attitudes toward homework in the United States have gone back and forth throughout history. In the mid-19th century, when organized education in this country was in its infancy, most students only went to school through sixth grade. Their lives were agrarian and their home life was consumed by chores. Homework was nonexistent, except for the privileged minority whose education continued into their teen years.
As life for Americans became more industrial and urban, more children went to high school and beyond. Homework was rigorous. Schools believed the brain was a muscle and became stronger with exercise. Then in 1900, homework was called a “national crime at the feet of American parents." Ladies’ Home Journal pushed to abolish it. Physicians were concerned it was bad for students' health because it deprived them of essential fresh air and sunshine. Some states banned homework for some or all grades.
When Russia launched Sputnik in 1957, the nation feared it was falling behind its rival. Schools pushed for more stringent homework and tougher standards for students. The Cold War and the Space Race combined to put intense pressure on students.
Schools around the world continue to debate and experiment with the effectiveness of homework. In 2014, a Quebec elementary school completely banned it. The Los Angeles School District decreed that homework could count for no more than 10% of a student’s grade. Finland, one of the world's most successful education systems, assigns very little.
So, should your school be assigning homework? Let's look at the debate from multiple angles.