The Instigator
Pro (for)
8 Points
The Contender
Con (against)
0 Points

Homework Is Unnecessary

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 5/17/2016 Category: Society
Updated: 5 months ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 475 times Debate No: 91376
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (4)
Votes (2)





I'm challenging sketchb to this debate given that he had to forfeit the last one.

In this debate I will argue that homework is not necessary and should not be required.

I will use the debate format he proposed for our last discussion:

Round 1 - Acceptance
Round 2 - Arguments (NO rebuttals)
Round 3 - Rebuttals
Round 4 - Rebuttals to Rebuttals, Final Remarks

I look forward to an interesting discussion.



I accept. Sorry I missed the other round!
Debate Round No. 1


[ Arguments ]

There are several reasons that people support homework:

1. To reinforce what is being taught in the classroom
2. To enable parents to engage in their child's education
3. To help children prepare for tests and state exams
4. To teach fundamental skills such as time management

However I will be arguing that

1. Homework does not fuel academic success
2. Homework inhibits family time and burdens parents
3. Homework infringes on playtime and recreation time
4. Homework fosters resentment that is detrimental and unnecessary

Point 1

Let's begin with the supposition that homework is vital to one's education. In fact, there is almost no evidence that homework helps elementary school students achieve academic success, and little more that it helps older students. A study led by an Indiana University School of Education faculty member finds little correlation between time spent on homework and better course grades [1].

Using databases like the Trends in Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) we can see how homework impacts academic achievement around the world. According to TIMSS data, homework is not associated with high national or international levels of academic achievement [2].

Adam Maltese and his colleagues analyzed the amount of time students spent on homework to their academic success. Research showed there was no relationship whatsoever between time spent on homework and course grade, and “no substantive difference in grades between students who complete homework and those who do not” [3]. Whereas the research showed a slight improvement in standardized test scores for students who did more homework, this improvement is described as being "very modest."

The fact is, you can't "reinforce" understanding the way you can reinforce a behavior. If you had a hard time understanding the lesson in class, chances are you won't have an easier time understanding it (if you can understand it at all) through the assignment of homework. I will be glad to expand on the research if my opponent challenges this contention.

Point 2

Homework places a burden on parents. After working all day, parents are required to go home and not only take care of their household, but help their child complete additional work. This is stressful and can often cause family conflict. Indeed many parents have rebelled against homework [4] and some have even taken legal action (and won) to not have to suffer the burden of this homework obligation [5]. Parents should be able to choose what the best way to teach their children is outside of the classroom, which may or may not be reviewing their day's lesson.

Homework can cut into important personal and family time [6]. Rather than bonding by spending quality time with their loved ones, homework requires students continue working rather than strengthening their personal relationships. A Stanford researcher found that too much homework can negatively affect kids away from school, where family, friends and activities matter [7]. It can also emphasize the mentality that work is more important than family.

Researcher Alfie Kohn notes, "We parents, meanwhile, turn into nags. After being away from our children all day, the first words out of our mouths, sadly, may be: 'So, did you finish your homework?' One mother told me it permanently damaged her relationship with her son because it forced her to be an enforcer rather than a mom" [8].

Moreover, each child has a different home environment. Whereas some parents have the time and resources to dedicate to homework monitoring and assistance, other parents do not have the opportunity to be as involved. Thus a shoddy homework response might reflect poorly on the child unfairly.

Further, homework arguably places an unnecessary burden on teachers in addition to parents. Rather than spending time planning their lessons, grading classwork or working on their own self-improvement, teachers have to spend time grading "busy work" that they can't be sure the child has even completed on their own. While some suggest that homework teaches kids about responsibility, most of the time it needs asssistance from parents. In the early years especially, it often cannot be done without parental guidance (so much for teaching independence!).

Point 3

After spending all day in school, children are forced to begin a "second shift" of work which can include hours of additional assignments. This deprives children of time for other physical and creative activities, or even time to rest. Homework leads kids to be frustrated and tired to the point of inhibiting their learning. For one thing they might become bored or impatient with the perpetual tasks; for another they might be too drained to focus on them.

Homework consistently builds a hateful relationship with learning [9]. While we don't give slow-working children a longer school day, we consistently give them a longer homework day. Kids who take longer to read, grasp the work or work more slowly in general have less time for non-academic education compared to their peers. Learning an instrument, playing sports, working on the arts, and even general playtime has significant benefits to a child's health, wellness and intellectual development [10]. Recreational activities can teach all kinds of useful life lessons and skills that pertain to schoolwork and beyond.

Point 4

Homework is known for “causing a loss of sleep, of self esteem, of cheer, and of childhood” [11]. “It extinguishes the flame of curiosity.” A child is not engaged through homework but rather disengaged through "drill and kill" methods that provide little to no utility. Homework also widens the gap between high and low achievers, and can increase pressure to do well. This in turn can encourage cheating and may disproportionately punish low-income or minority students in disadvantages situations.

As for proposed alternatives, "The best teachers know that children learn how to make good decisions by making decisions, not by following directions... At least two investigators have found that the most impressive teachers (as defined by various criteria) tend to involve students in decisions about assignments rather than simply telling them what they’ll have to do at home" [12].

As such, we can improve the status quo by asking students the best way to reinforce what they have learned in class. While this might include some work from home, it probably won't look like the standard version of homework that is uniform, repetitive and monotonous. Perhaps teachers and parents can work with each student individually to figure out their goals and best methods of learning based on their habits, skill set and home environment.

[ Sources ]

[3] Adam V. Maltese, Robert H. Tai, and Xitao Fan, “When Is Homework Worth the Time? Evaluating the Association Between Homework and Achievement in High School Science and Math,” The High School Journal, October/November 2012: 52-72.
[6] Cooper, H., Robinson, J. C., & Patall, E. A. (2006). Does homework improve academic achievement? A synthesis of research, 1987–2003. Review of Educational Research, 76(1), 1-62.


Here are my arguments (I actually posted them in time!):

1. Homework actually teaches kids responsibility. When kids do homework, they learn that it is their fault (NOT THE PARENT'S) if they turn it in late. [1]

2. Homework also provides kids with the ability to manage their own time. This is key, and I still struggle with this sometimes; however, students should have learned to be able to manage their own time effectively. [1] This also ties in with perserverance, which essentially states that students don't give up on a project and they keep working until the project is done. If they stick to it, they should be done BEFORE THE DEADLINE! [1]

3. Homework helps kids get better grades on their tests. Five studies were taken, and in each, "the average student who did homework had a higher unit test score than the students not doing homework." [2] There were also 12 other studies that prove that homework helps kids get better grades. [2]

As a note, the amount of homework recommended for kids varies by their grade. If they are elementary students, they should have less homework, but if they're high school students, they should have more homework. [2]


(Yes, I know I didn't take up too much space, but I believe I was "to the point". The websites explain my arguments in much greater detail. Please read them.)

I'm eager to hear your rebuttals. Thank you so much for working with me on this, and I again apologize for forfeiting the other debate.
Debate Round No. 2



1. Con claims that homework teaches kids responsibility. He says when kids (don't) do homework, they learn that it is their fault and "NOT THE PARENT'S FAULT" that it is turned in late.

Please extend all of my Point 2 arguments as a rebuttal to this contention.

Respected teacher John Spencer notes, "Homework doesn’t teach kids responsibility. It teaches compliance. A better solution is self-directed, independent, optional learning" [1]. A student exemplifies responsibility when they take ownership of their own education and look to improve it by choice. Completing tasked assignments to avoid disciplinary action isn't necessarily an indicator of responsibility.

Moreover, many of the alleged benefits of homework (such as teaching responsibility) can be acquired through other, more beneficial endeavors [2]. For example participating in athletics arguably encourages more responsibility than homework [3]. Kids have to learn to keep to a schedule, work on a team, concentrate, persevere through adversity, practice, and all while enjoying the added benefits of exercise, improved motor skills, better health and stress relief. However kids won't have time to pursue these other endeavors if they are saddled with homework.

Jobs teach kids responsibility - should we mandate jobs for that reason alone? Just because something may (or may not) be beneficial does not mean it ought to be required.

2. Homework also provides kids with the ability to manage their own time.

Please extend my Point 3 and Point 4 arguments as a rebuttal to this contention.

A child's homework completion or performance is not only dependent on their time, but that of their family and care giver's schedule. Kids already "work" in school all day, and should have free time after school to pursue other endeavors (or practice their academic endeavors individually according to their needs or parental preferences). Some have pointed out that assigning homework in and of itself is a reflection of the teacher's own poor time management in sufficiently managing the curriculum [4]. Adults lament having to take their work home with them, and often suffer as a direct result [5]. We should not impose the same burdens on children unnecessarily.

3. My opponent claims that homework helps kids get better grades on their tests.

Please extend my Point 1 arguments as a rebuttal to this contention.

Con presents one source noting 5 or 12 studies that allegedly link value between homework and academic achievement. I've presented numerous studies contending the exact opposite in the last round. Here is some more research:

"Students enrolled in college physics courses were surveyed to determine whether any features of their high schoolphysics courses were now of use to them. At first a very small relationship was found between the amount of homework that students had had in high school and how well they were currently faring. But once the researchers controlled for other variables, such as the type of classes they had taken, that relationship disappeared. The researchers then studied a much larger population of students in college science classes – and found the same thing: homework simply didn’t help."

Philip M. Sadler and Robert H. Tai, 'Success in Introductory College Physics: The Role of High School Preparation,' Science Education 85 [2001]: 111-36.

In fact homework doesn't teach kids to practice the skills they have been taught, but rather "drill and kill" information that does not develop meaning. "Learning isn’t just a matter of absorbing new information or acquiring automatic responses to stimuli. Rather, we human beings spend our entire lives constructing theories about how the world works, and then reconstructing them in light of new evidence. Not only educational theorists but virtually all cognitive researchers today “[sub]scribe to this constructive view of learning and knowledge. The kind of teaching most consistent with it treats students as meaning makers and offers carefully calibrated challenges that help them to develop increasingly sophisticated theories. The point is for them to understand ideas from the inside out" [6].

If I have to present even more research next round I will, or I can expand on why my studies have better quality than Con's. But the takeaway should be that my research should be accepted because there is no good reason to accept that homework's "drill and kill" provides a positive educational impact.


As an aside, Con should not ask the audience to read his sources. He is supposed to be making the case himself and using sources to back up his arguments - not citing other people's arguments and presenting them as his own.

If you're in the mood to Google readings, check out these which all provide data and research affirming the resolution:

“Does Homework Improve Academic Achievement?: A Synthesis of Research, 1987-2003,” Review of Educational Research 76 (2006): 1-62.

Valerie A. Cool and Timothy Z. Keith, “Testing a Model of School Learning: Direct and Indirect Effects on Academic Achievement,” Contemporary Educational Psychology 16 (1991): 28-44.

The Battle Over Homework, 2nd ed. (Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin, 2001).


sketchb forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 3


Unfortunately my opponent has forfeited R3.

As such, I have no rebuttals or contentions to add in the last round.

Please extend my arguments. Thank you to all readers.


I posted my rebuttals in the comments. Continue the debate there?
Debate Round No. 4
4 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 4 records.
Posted by orginelenaam 4 months ago
As a teacher giving no homework sounds as a good idea because most students don't do it (well) anyway. But how would you solve the difference in speed? Extremely fast students will be able to finish the work that has to be done in half a lesson, but extremely slow students may need one and a half lessons. Homework can be used to make sure that also the slow students can complete the work that needs to be done.
Posted by whiteflame 4 months ago
>Reported vote: llaurenthellama// Mod action: Removed<

5 points to Con (Arguments, Sources), 1 point to Pro (Conduct). Reasons for voting decision: In my opinion, homework is helpful to the children/teens/adults learning. Homework is practically MADE to be annoying, but it's pretty hard to rub something in without being 'annoying'. That's pretty much it, I guess. Thanks for making the debate happen, ~LlaurenTheLlama

[*Reason for removal*] (1) The voter doesn't explain sources or conduct. (2) Arguments are insufficiently explained. The voter has to do more than present their opinion on the matter and vote on that basis.
Posted by whiteflame 4 months ago
>Reported vote: Udel/ Mod action: Removed<

6 points to Pro (Conduct, Arguments, Sources). Reasons for voting decision: Pro says hw doesn't increase academic success. Con says it makes kids do better on tests, but then Pro says his sources are flawed and she responds with more sources stating the opposite. Pro says hw inhibits family and recreation time. Con says it teaches kids time mgmt. Pro says time is often not in the kid's control. She says it infringes time for fun and that hw is unnecessary and kills learning. Con did not respond to any of this, and then forfeited so he loses conduct points, and Pro's sources were more plentiful. Also her sources had greater sample research.

[*Reason for removal*] Sources are insufficiently explained. Having more sources is never a sufficient reason for awarding these " this is a measure of quality first and foremost. While the voter states that they also had greater sample research, that's a generalized statement without any clear applicability to this debate.
Posted by sketchb 5 months ago
I missed the deadline again! I'm really sorry, as I was on a trip. Basically, here's my rebuttals in order of your points:

Point 1:

All you have to do is look at my sources. They have proven that homework does indeed fuel academic success.

Point 2:

Parents shouldn't be responsible for their kids' homework; however, they may choose to, and homeschooling gives quality time while still assigning homework.

Point 3:

My mom puts playing outside as a reward for completing homework, and it's worked! I suggest that to any parents to use outdoor time as a reward. I understand your point about the whole "second shift" thing, but I have a solution: assign homework that's based on what the kid can handle and get done quickly and efficiently.

Point 4:

Often, I get distracted when I do homework, and I see your point. It should be geared for each student. However, those late nights doing homework are often caused by procrastination.

Again, I'm really sorry I missed the deadline. Hopefully you'll read this. Also, I had a general idea about my stance in the first place, but I needed the websites to put it in words.

2 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Vote Placed by Udel 4 months ago
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Total points awarded:40 
Reasons for voting decision: Pro says hw doesn't increase academic success. Con says it makes kids do better on tests, but then Pro says his sources are flawed and she responds with more sources stating the opposite. Pro says hw inhibits family and recreation time. Con says it teaches kids time mgmt. Pro says time is often not in the kid's control. She says it infringes time for fun and that hw is unnecessary and kills learning. Con did not respond to any of this, and then forfeited so he loses conduct points
Vote Placed by AribtraryMoniker 4 months ago
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Total points awarded:40 
Reasons for voting decision: I'm concerned with the way Pro treats some of her sources. All three sources cited for her first point in round one seem to have a deeper and more nuanced discussion than she presents in-round. Maltese notes in the Indiana article that he and his colleagues aren't arguing that homework is bad, but that it should be calculated and intentional. It is an argument for quality over quantity. I see this issue coming up all throughout the debate; Pro has a wealth of citations, but many say something very different than what she is saying in round. Con on the other hand offers two paltry listicles without much analysis whatsoever. I don't feel comfortable awarding sources to either debater. On a substantive level Pro wins hands down. Her analysis is deeper, her responses cover more ground, and Con outright forfeits at one point. He posts his argument in the comments, but doesn't feel any different than a debater handing me his flow after the round and saying 'Look, I meant to say this'