Grade 5 Puts Homework on Trial

During a mock trial in the Trustey Family Theatre, fifth grade "attorneys" presented research and videos to support their arguments for and against abolishing homework. A judge and bailiff kept the courtroom orderly as an all-student jury, composed of one member from each class in Kindergarten through Grade 5, sat before an audience of Lower Schoolers to listen to compelling testimony from both sides.

Students arguing in favor of abolishing homework cited authors who have suggested that homework detracts from family time and extracurricular activities and increases stress, while those arguing the opposing side referred to research that seems to show a clear link between homework and academic success. According to fifth grade teacher David Lund, whose students filled all the courtroom roles during this mock trial, "Opinion in the theatre seemed to be stacked against homework from the start, and the jury ruled that homework should be abolished. No word yet on whether there will be an appeal." The jury's verdict was symbolic: Shore teachers plan to continue assigning developmentally-appropriate amounts of homework.

The trial was part of a unit of study on argument-based writing. "The opening statements, evidence, and concluding statement of each team of lawyers was similar to the structure of a persuasive essay," explained Lund. Each fifth grader went on to write an argument-based essay on a topic of their choice.
    • Judge Mary Pollock and Bailiff Kelly McVeigh conferred.

    • Videos provided support for arguments on both sides.

    • Tracy Keith and her Pre-K 1 students listened to the debate.

    • The all-student jury sat opposite the legal teams.