The Trouble With Homework

Excerpts from a New York Times article by Annie Murphy Paul:

Do American students have too much homework or too little? Neither, I’d say. We ought to be asking a different question altogether. What should matter to parents and educators is this: How effectively do children’s after-school assignments advance learning?

The quantity of students’ homework is a lot less important than its quality. And evidence suggests that as of now, homework isn’t making the grade.

“Spaced repetition” is one example of the kind of evidence-based techniques that researchers have found have a positive impact on learning. Here’s how it works: instead of concentrating the study of information in single blocks, as many homework assignments currently do, learners encounter the same material in briefer sessions spread over a longer period of time.

A second learning technique, known as “retrieval practice,” employs a familiar tool — the test — in a new way: not to assess what students know, but to reinforce it.

Another common misconception about how we learn holds that if information feels easy to absorb, we’ve learned it well. In fact, the opposite is true. When we work hard to understand information, we recall it better; the extra effort signals the brain that this knowledge is worth keeping.

Why do parents send their kids to private schools?

There are some obvious reasons 5 here, 5 more here.

Private school teachers rarely have to worry about discipline. Students know that if they cause problems they will be dealt with swiftly and without recourse. A teacher who doesn’t have to be a traffic cop can teach.

While the major focus at most private high schools is getting you ready for college, your personal maturation and development go hand in hand with that academic preparation. That way, hopefully, you emerge from your high school with both a degree and some great purpose for your life and understanding of who you are.

In a private school it’s cool to be smart. That’s why you go to private school. In many public schools the kids who want to learn and who are smart are branded as nerds and become the objects of social ridicule. In private school it’s cool to be smart. The smarter you are, the more the school will do its best to stretch your intellect to its limits. That’s one of the things private schools do rather well.

Most private schools do not have to teach to a test. As a result, they can afford to focus on teaching your child how to think, as opposed to teaching her what to think. That’s an important concept to understand. In many public schools poor test scores can mean less money for the school, negative publicity and even the chance that a teacher could be reviewed unfavorably.

Statistics on Private vs Public High School attendance

According to a longitudinal study analyzing statistics on private and public schools attendance at University of Michigan in 2008 there were definite differences between the results of students.  Out of the study group there were 76% public and 24% private students.  Of the public school students there were 72% that graduated high school and 28% that did not.

Of the students that graduated public high school 65% attended college,  and 79% of private school students went to college. Of the 65% that attended college only 36% received a bachelors degree or higher.  However, of the 79% graduated private schools, 52% received a bachelors degree or higher.

As a result of this study one can see that there is a measurable difference in the statistics on private and public schools attendance.  One could conclude that there is definitely a higher rate of private school students who actually attain a degree.

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