In a pair of lively and thought-provoking presentations, Alfie Kohn makes a compelling case that two traditional features of schooling -- grades and homework -- are not only unnecessary but actually undermine students' interest in learning.
Research consistently finds that giving students letter or number grades leads them to think less deeply, avoid challenging tasks, and become less enthusiastic about whatever they're learning -- and that's true for those who get A's as well as D's. Similarly, making children work what amounts to a second shift after having spent all day in school not only proves frustrating but also turns learning into a chore. Surprisingly, claims that homework enhances understanding or promotes better work habits are contradicted by both research and experience.
Rather than trying to tweak the details of how students are graded, or how much (or even what kind of) homework they're assigned, Kohn argues that we need to ask whether the practices themselves really make sense.
Two Lectures for Educators and Parents, Approximate running times: Grades: 50 minutes; Homework: 45 minutes.
Filed on April 23, 2008 at WNED-TV, Buffalo, NY in cooperation with Orleans/Niagara BOCES