Katharine Hahn is a veteran of the homework wars. Along with years in the classroom, she raised children of her own.
She's all too familiar with the dilemma many parents face on a regular basis.
“Do I let them stay up late and do the homework or do I make them go to bed without it being done? It just creates a lot of anxiety in everybody,” said Hahn.
So when some of her students staged a homework rebellion last fall she was ready to listen.
“Why don't we have a little system set up to where if you're getting good grades on the test, you don't have to do the homework,” asked Tristan Dossett.
Hahn said some students, like Dossett, raised their grades after they got on the no homework contract.
“I honestly felt more comfortable coming to school and I wasn't as stressed,” explained Dossett. “So, I feel like it helped my overall grades in general, not just with this class but with the others.”
One student, named Eilie, also raised her grades with the no homework contract.
“I think it worked a lot better for me,” she stated. “I got better test grades. I was focusing in class. I wasn't staying on my phone and playing around.”
Hahn says she feels her students took ownership of it. But she is also quick to point out, the system simply didn't work for other kids. Another student, named Cedrick, signed the no homework contract but saw his grade plummet as a result.
“It didn't really work for me,” he stated.
Others, like Anne and Rebecca, opted out altogether.
“I just needed the reassurance that when I did the homework, it would help contribute to my grade,” explained Anne.
In the end, Hahn says the experiment was a wash; some went up, some went down. The overall student grade in the class remained the same. But she says there's a bigger lesson here is that “in the end, they need to take ownership of their own education.”
Whether it comes from doing homework or from opting out, Hahn says that self-reliance is one of the most important things all kids need to learn.