RE: Is homework worthwhile?

This is in response to Robert H. Tai’s Aug. 11 essay titled “A back-to-school debate: Is homework worthwhile?” I believe here the word “worthwhile” is the measuring stick.

Likely, there is no correlation between the time spent sitting in front of the desk twirling a pencil and improved academic performance. True, tear-welling, hourlong study sessions could potentially drive students away from school or discourage them from learning.

However, when homework is appropriately assigned, at an easy-to-complete level necessary for reinforcing the lesson just learnt, it will be beneficial. According to some psychologists, it takes seven repetitions to memorize newly learned information (not to consider other factors). Timely reviewing a new concept taught in class can save the rehearsal times needed to keep it in long-term memory.

Mr. Tai does acknowledge the fact that doing more homework “may help them get higher scores on the standardized tests that nearly all American public school students take.” At the elementary level, it can very well serve the purpose of cultivating a good study habit, which will pay off in many ways in the student’s future. So the answer is not a simple “yes” or “no” but a further question: What and how much homework?

We’ve all heard “We are what we eat.” I wonder if we can also say “We are what we learn.” For young students, proper guidance and homework seem to me totally worthwhile and even indispensable.

Vicky Li,


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