Academic says homework stresses and overburdens children

TEACHERS take note: homework has no scientific benefit and it could even be bad for a student's brain.

This is the studied opinion of world-recognised neurological development academic Dr Michael Nagel, who is also an Associate Professor at the University of the Sunshine Coast.

Dr Nagel said the adult brain did not fully mature until the third decade of life and too much stimulation could cause unnecessary stress.

"Homework doesn't do anything except stress and overburden kids. There isn't any evidence it improves outcomes," he said.

Dr Nagel said that in the 1970s homework was not allowed in American schools as it was "psychologically damaging".

While it was okay for completing school work or a class project, many schools went overboard.

"We've gone backwards with homework," Dr Nagel said. "There is a common misconception in society that homework is a good thing, that it is enhancing an education, but really, it isn't."

While reading and spelling homework might be beneficial as it was "fun" for young students, it had the opposite effect in the teenage years.

"There is a lot of evidence it stressed kids and it stresses parents. We have kids in school 200 days a year for six hours a day,'' Dr Nagel said.

"If they can't cover all the work in a school year, then maybe we need to ask what they are doing in the school year."

Dr Nagel, who has two teenagers, said most of the time teenagers were tired "because their bodies and brains are changing".

Maroochydore mum Jodi Theisen, a former teacher, agreed too much homework was bad.

Her oldest daughter, Gabriella, is in Prep at Coolum Beach Christian College and Mrs Theisen said she loved doing readers and spelling after school and then having time to play.

"At this age, they must come home and just be kids," she said.

Dr Nagel will deliver a free presentation covering these issues called "Blame their brain: why our children do what they do!" at the university on October 10 from 6pm to 8pm. To book a seat call 5456 5000.


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