So why do we continue to administer this modern cod liver oil-or even demand a larger dose? Kohn's incisive analysis reveals how a set of misconceptions about learning and a misguided focus on competitiveness has left our kids with less free time, and our families with more conflict. Pointing to stories of parents who have fought back-and schools that have proved educational excellence is possible without homework-Kohn demonstrates how we can rethink what happens during and after school in order to rescue our families and our children's love of learning.
Education watchdog and author Kohn (No Contest: The Case Against Competition) questions why teachers and parents continue to insist on overloading kids with homework when there are no definitive studies proving its overall learning benefits. Indeed, argues Kohn persuasively, homework can be detrimental to children 's development by robbing families of quality evening time together and not allowing a kid time simply to be a kid. Americans in general advocate a tough-going approach to education and push teachers to give more drudgery nightly as a way of "building character." Yet Kohn shows that doing forced busywork only turns kids off to school and kills intellectual and creative curiosity. The American insistence on producing good worker bees "by sheer force or cleverness," notes Kohn, "reflects a stunning ignorance about how human beings function in the real world." Kohn pursues six reasons why homework is still so widely accepted despite the evidence against it, including the emphasis on competitiveness and "tougher standards" and a basic distrust of children and how they would fill their time otherwise if not doing busywork. There aren't enough case studies in Kohn's work, but Kohn sounds an important note: parents need to ask more challenging questions of teachers and institutions.