Do you all remember waking up early, going to school for 6-8 hours then coming home to do 3 hours of homework? Some of you had to take the bus to school so add another hour to your day. I hated the idea of homework as a child because I found it so weird. When I asked my teacher why I needed to do homework she said I needed to practice doing work without distraction. Now if you do not know I have 4 siblings all of which are five years or younger than me. I'm not sure what this teacher thought home lives were like but distraction-free was not what it was like in my house. We already know from many studies that homework is only not beneficial but actually harmful to children, but could there be something more sinister behind it? Especially now with the Chromebooks and zoom classes children are taking.
So who invented homework? It was actually started in Germany during Johann Gotlieb Fichet's attempt to turn Germany into a nation-state. He found that homework was a really good way to encourage nationalism. In order to promote German nationalism they created school-required attendance and implemented a standardized curriculum among all schools. The entire idea was not only to implement government ideals during school time but also extend it to home life so there was no way children would have time to learn anything other than a government-approved curriculum. A man named Horace Mann, an American politician saw that the German government was teaching children what to think and not how to think so he loved it and brought it back to America.
Homework is government surveillance... believe me yet?
We have known homework is not only pointless but is detrimental to children's mental health since the early 1900s. It even went as far as being banned. In 1901 California passed a law to abolish homework for anyone under the age of 15. The American Child Health Association said homework was an unacceptable educational practice and even went as far as to say it is a form of child labor. So why is it back? In the 1950s the law was repealed after world war 2 during the cold war. This was around the same time as the Vietnam war. Do you see a theme? It started in Germany when they wanted citizen support then reinstated in America when they needed citizen support. It has always been about government surveillance and starting at a young age to teach children what to think.
Homework has always been the way that a government can express its power over an individual. It is a way for the government to not allow any other teaching than a government-approved curriculum. Let's say you are a child that goes to school and rides the bus. The typical time the bus arrives for the first pick-up is 6 am. You are the first so your bus ride is 2 hours long. You get to school at 8 and start your school day. You leave school at 3 pm with another 2-hour bus ride home and get home at 5 pm. You have 3 hours of homework. You finally finish your homework by 8 pm. That is an insane workload for children. There is no time for family, fun, or extracurriculars. It is a government-approved curriculum. They give families absolutely no time together. At this point, the government is raising your children. And you are letting them.
I encourage anyone with children in public or private schools to opt their children out of homework. Let your child's teacher know they will not participate. They have your children for 8 hours. Take back the small amount of time you get with them. Let them breathe.