Have you ever thought why the biggest part of students starts hating school with some time? More than a half of all their answers to this question will mention the necessity to do homework.
Whether the reasons for that are procrastination or lack of time but in any case, the topic of homework has been discussed by educators for many times. There are causes for both banning homework and leaving it in different amounts, but still, the home assignment benefits outweigh its drawbacks.
Homework in different countries
Unfortunately, it is very difficult to estimate how much time a child should spend on his or her homework. All the figures are strictly individual as nobody supposes that today a girl will suffer from a headache and a boy will have a volleyball competition. That means that they have to shorten their night sleep to cope with all the tasks assigned to them.
Another astonishing fact about the volumes of a home assignment given to school kids in different countries. If to consider that a child should have time for clubs, relaxation, friends apart from homework, it should not take more than one hour to complete all the tasks every day. But in some countries, people begin to doubt the fact that homework should not be banned: statistics are terrifying. The research by OECD that was analyzing the homework of 15-year-old school kids has shown that Italian children are overwhelmed with homework as they have to spend over 9 hours on it weekly. The other countries where children have to work over 6 hours on their tasks are Ireland, Poland, the USA and Australia. No wonder children would rather find hundreds of other activities than do their home assignments.
At the same time, each person realizes that homework is extremely important in studying. According to the Cooper’s review of homework studies, 70% of students show better academic success thanks to homework they were completing. Consequently, we should not underestimate its benefits and now it is time to focus on the reasons why it should not be banned.
- Home environment can be more productive for some pupils than a classroom one
Not all children are capable of coping with the tension that appears in the classroom because of different reasons: time limits, scolding other students, noise etc. That is why a home can have a more productive atmosphere as there is no competition, restrictions and you can learn material at your own pace in the place where you feel comfortable and relaxed.
- Parents have a representation of the things that happen in the classroom
A necessity to do and check homework makes parents more involved in studying. Sometimes children may have troubles with some topics or even subjects and difficulties with homework can be a ringing bell to provide assistance to your child. Moreover, it encourages parents to communicate with their children more.
- Homework boosts interaction between students and teachers
Homework is done for different purposes but one of them is improved interaction between learners and educators. Students not only ask questions but also visit after class activities to be able to deal with it themselves.
- Additional practice
Not all the information is grasped by students at the lessons. Sometimes the percentage of this knowledge is relatively low, but the requirements of the curriculum make teachers give many self-study tasks home for them to achieve better test results.
Moreover, the obligation to repeat the material learnt at the lesson contributes to its better memorizing and understanding.
- It teaches students responsibility
When students only visit classes they have no idea how difficult it is for teachers to prepare for the lessons and may behave abusively. When they are given assignments on a regular basis, they raise responsibility, punctuality, and executivity. These features can be very useful for the future career too.
- Homework improves presentation skills
Diligent students do their best to impress their teachers in the classroom. Such painstaking and thorough preparation is very important for building better presentation skills.
- Children learn much new information additionally
Apart from the direct assignment execution, many students need to research many sources to complete it profoundly. That helps to get additional knowledge and become more intelligent.
- It teaches important life skills
When we say that students do their homework we implement many meanings in this phrase. Pupils learn to manage time effectively, set priorities, and improve self-discipline. That is a good preparation for future career and meeting deadlines set by bosses.
- Homework is a remedy against weaknesses
Something that was not understood by a student at the lesson can be analyzed by him at home again. Homework gives students a chance to improve, acquire new skills and stand out among other learners.
- It keeps students busy
If teenagers would have too much time for leisure activities, the probability that they will interfere with some illegal or criminal issues rises greatly. Being busy with tasks they do not waste their time and spend it with the unmatched benefit.
It is useless to deny the fact that home assignment is very beneficial for school children. Of course, there might be some restrictions concerning the age of students and the number of tasks assigned, but in any case, it is impossible to imagine a modern school without homework. Think only about homeschooling and much higher academic achievements learners have. No wonder that homework remains one of the most effective ways to acquire and improve the existing knowledge and skills.
Also published on Medium.
I don’t assign homework and I haven’t for the last four years. It’s been a slow journey, because it runs against a very powerful ideology within the United States. Here are ten reasons to abolish homework:
1. Young Children Are Busy: If a child cannot learn what needs to be learned in a six hour day, we are expecting too much of a child. We are creating a jam-packed hurried day without a chance to play, reflect and interact. Adding hours to an already busy day is absurd.
2. Older Children Are Even More Busy: So if younger students need a chance to play, the reality is that many older students are busy with extracurricular activities,
3. Inequitable Situation: I have some students who go home to parents that can provide additional support. I have others who go home and babysit younger siblings while their single parent works a second shift. I have some who don’t have adequate lighting, who constantly move and who lose electricity on a regular basis. Call those excuses if you want. I’ll call it systemic injustice instead.
4. Kids Need to Play: My son loves school. He loves the chance to learn to read, write and think in a way that is different from how I engage him. However, when he comes home, he needs to ride a bike, throw a ball or climb a tree.
5. Creates Adversarial Roles: It is possible for homework (or rather home learning) to be a positive force. However, when a parent is stuck as a practitioner of someone else’s pre-planned learning situation, it becomes an issue of management.
6. Motivation: It is possible to provides students with meaningful learning experiences after school. However, if that’s the case, why make it mandatory? Why not say, “I offer tutoring if you need help” or “here’s an idea of something you might want to pursue on your own?” When I was in high school, I wrote pages upon pages of poetry, a novel (never even told an adult) and countless short stories. It was, on some level, self-directed homework. And honestly, I would have allowed a teacher that I trusted to provide feedback. However, if the process had been formalized, I would have kept all of that even more underground.
7. Homework Doesn’t Raise Achievement: I know Marzano looked at one study and concluded that homework works. However, Duke University’s study (by Harris Cooper) concluded that homework does not increase achievement and it often decreases it instead. I spent some time looking at the “studies” regarding homework and they all point to a correlation rather than a causal relationship between homework and achievement. The bottom line is that the research is sketchy at best.
8. Most Homework Is Bad: Most homework recreates school within the confines of a home. So, instead of having children do interviews, analyze a neighborhood or engage in culinary math, the traditional approach involves packets.
9. Homework Teaches Bad Work Habits: I know this sounds crazy, because it’s precisely the reason that so many people give for offering homework. However, homework doesn’t teach good study habits. It teaches kids to study, because they have to rather than need to. Similarly, homework doesn’t help children become hard workers, because the work is not self-directed. Want to watch a child work hard and take ownership of learning? Watch a child build a bridge for fun. Let a child read a book for fun (without the bribery of fried dough) and see just how hard a kid will work when there is a meaningful goal. Hard work is a product of motivation. It is an internal drive. When we a parent steps in an makes a child work hard, the work ethic diminishes.
10.The Wrong Focus: Homework is precisely that: work at home. The goal is often increased achievement. The bigger question is whether we want achievement or learning. If the goal is learning, homework kills the desire to learn.
What I Advocate Instead:
- Emphasize the idea that learning can and will happen naturally at home or elsewhere in a child’s world. Visit a skate park and watch the learning that happens. Spend some time watching kids develop new games in the neighborhood.
- If parents really want homework, let teachers give workshops (might be a great time to bridge the gap with homeschoolers / unschoolers by doing a co-teaching workshop) on how to engage children at home in authentic learning.
- Provide ideas and support for students who are interested in doing more. If a teacher had said, “Hey, I’d like to meet with you on that novel you’re writing,” I would have met one-on-one or in a small writing circle.
- Treat homework as an extracurricular activity: Students in my class voluntarily do homework when we create documentaries. They take pictures, film interviews, complete community surveys, work on neighborhood ethnographic studies and volunteer with local charities. The key here is that it is not graded and is treated as an extracurricular activity.
- Ultimately, we need to tackle injustice. If parents can’t be home with kids after school, there is a systemic flaw that needs to be addressed socially, culturally and politically.
* * *
John T. Spencer is a teacher in Phoenix, AZ who blogs at Education Rethink. He recently finished Pencil Me In, an allegory for educational technology and A Sustainable Start, a book for new teachers. He also wrote the reform-minded memoirs Teaching Unmasked: A Humble Alternative to Waiting For a Superheroand Sages and Lunatics. He has written two young adult novels Drawn Into Dangerand A Wall for Zombies. You can connect with him on Twitter @johntspencer