Should Homework Be Banned Why Or Why Not
A TIMSS (Trends in Math and Science Study) survey, conducted in 2007, revealed that fourth grader students in countries that set below average levels of homework were more academically successful in math and science than those in countries that set above average levels. In Japan – ranked second in the results table – only three percent of students reported a particularly heavy workload of over three hours a night while a staggering 20 percent of Dutch students – whose scores were in the international top 10 – claimed to do no homework whatsoever. This is in stark contrast to countries like Greece and Thailand, where higher workloads have done nothing to rectify lower scores.
These results are not alone in debunking the myth that homework in any way benefits the academic performance of elementary students. So why, we should ask, are policymakers and educators so hell-bent on enforcing it? In his 2006 publication The Homework Myth, prolific author and outspoken critic of the current educational system Alfie Kohn set out a well argued and evidentially attested thesis saying that the purpose of homework is twofold. Firstly it’s meant to instill an air of competitiveness in children, not only within the physical classroom, but, because of the quantitatively driven approach of policy experts, within the global classroom – against China, Singapore and Finland, for example. Secondly, homework is used as a weapon to combat adults’ inherent mistrust of children, keeping them busy so they don’t run riot. This latter suggestion may baffle belief, but a concerned parent’s response to the suggestion that homework be banned (‘we have to have homework… otherwise the kids won’t have structure and they will just come home and fool around’) attests to its current orthodoxy.
The thing about homework is that is doesn’t work. As shown by numerous studies, it brings no educational benefits, acts as a root cause of conflict between children, parents and teachers and has detrimental mental and physical effects on children that, by the fact that they’re avoidable, are absolutely inexcusable. Children are not the only ones to fear the evils of homework though. Teachers, under increasing amounts of pressure to meet targets, cover curricula and achieve grades, are incentivized to set more and more of it and grade more and more of it; something that wouldn’t be so bad if we weren’t so aware of its utter pointlessness.
The most important problem, however, is that homework is more closely associated with punishment than with pleasure. Made to be completed during time that should be spent engaging in creative, playful and recreational pursuits, homework doesn’t even have the courtesy to be enjoyable by nature – as is completely apparent from my students’ faces when I fulfill my duties to the school in setting it for them. And such truth is not surprising when you consider that for homework to be enjoyable, it would have to be everything it’s not: optional instead of mandatory, creative rather than prescribed and objectively appreciated instead of subjectively assessed. Improvement to our children’s education, until we redefine what our definition of education really is, can only be achieved through one thing, its removal.
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.