Homework! Homework! Homework!
copyright 1995 by Tim Griffin
We’re working hard all day at school but when the clock says three
We want to go and play ‘cause we’re entitled to be free
But our teacher is so kind, he doesn’t want us to get bored
So when the day is ending he starts writing on the board.
He gives us homework, homework, homework morning, afternoon, and night
We’ll be working on our homework ‘til we see the morning light
I know the teacher says I have to exercise my brain
But it’s too much homework and it’s driving me insane.
I grab my books, I’m out of school, I’m feeling pretty good
I’d like to see my friends and hang around the neighborhood
But all my friends are heading home, they haven’t got the time
And if I stop to ask them why, here’s what they start to whine
Oh, it’s homework, homework, homework when I sleep when I wake
I can barely carry all my homework home, for goodness’ sake!
To do this to a child like me is really inhumane
‘Cause it’s too much homework and it’s driving me insane!
I work until it’s dinnertime and when I’m feeling beat
I walk into the kitchen, going to get a bite to eat
But Mom and Dad say “No no no, you’ve got a job to do
“You go and do your homework and we’ll bring a snack to you.”
So it’s homework, homework, homework for my dinner and dessert
But working while I’m eating kind of makes my stomach hurt
I’ve told you this already but I’ll say it once again:
It’s too much homework and it’s driving me insane!
We work and work and when at last vacation comes along
We’re happy we’ll no longer have to sing the homework song,
But teacher has a big surprise, before the last bell rings
We get vacation homework and someone starts to sing
Oh, it’s homework North and homework South and homework West and East,
Of all the things we love to do we love our homework least,
Oh, I wonder will my teacher ever get it through his brain,
That it’s too much homework and it’s driving me insane!
This song is just for fun, but I’m surprised at how many serious conversations it has started. If you honestly care what I think about homework, here you go:
A lot of studies have been done on the effectiveness of assigning homework. Results are mixed: survey-based studies (i.e. asking families how much time their kids spend on homework) usually show that the kids who turn in their homework do better in school than the kids who blow it off, but this is likely due (at least in part) to the fact that kids who blow off their homework also tend to be the ones who don’t take school seriously in general. There are a very few studies where kids are actually assigned to groups that either get varying amounts of homework or not; those studies tend to show no correlation to student success in the primary grades, mild correlation in upper elementary, and solid correlation in middle and high school. Some studies have found that heavy loads of homework for kids below third grade actually show an inverse correlation to success.
My own experience as an elementary teacher has been that homework below second grade is pretty much useless: the parents do most of it, and I would rather have them spend that time reading to their kids. Some homework in the upper elementary grades is helpful as long as the assignments are short, relevant, and clear. A lot of the blowback we’ve been seeing against the Common Core Math standards, for example, occurs when we give kids homework assignments on core standards the kids (and the parents) do not yet understand. My humble opinion is that kids should be reading a lot at home and keeping some kind of journal to document it; reviewing daily (but briefly!) those facts that need to be memorized (multiplication tables, spelling, etc.); using their writing skills a little each day; and not much else. Anything requiring real instruction should be happening at school.
As always, I am happy to hear what you think.