There is controversy about the value of homework, with critics saying it is either ineffective or potentially harmful if the extra work is so dull that children switch off.
Few years ago, a group of French parents and teachers called for a two-week boycott of homework in schools, saying it is useless, tiring and reinforces inequalities between children. They say homework pushes the responsibility for learning on parents and causes rows between themselves and their children. And they conclude children would be better off reading a book.
This is a representative sample of what the detractors argue against having homework, but we can add others arguments opposed to homework: “The school day should be long enough to allow the child to learn and write everything they need to” “homework, whether good or bad, takes time and often cuts into each student’s sleep, family dinner, or freedom to follow passions outside of school”. “Not all families have the time or the necessary knowledge to help their offspring”. “Teachers don’t realise the unbelievable pressure they are putting children under”. (should children have to do homework? comments)
And what the students have to add to this scenario against homework. For too many students, homework is too often about compliance and “not losing points” rather than about learning: “…it’s worksheets and problems at the end of the chapter. Just busywork”, “It doesn’t matter how I get the homework done, just as long as it is done before the teacher checks it. Right?” . “If I haven’t succeeded in doing the exercise at school, I don’t see how I’m going to succeed at home”.
From another standpoint, there’s pressure from external sources to set homework and a lot of teachers see that as if they must be setting homework all the time, even if it’s not necessary. There is also a parents’ common misconception that teachers and schools giving more homework are more challenging and therefore better teachers and schools. This is a false assumption. The amount of homework your son or daughter does each night should not be a source of pride for the quality of a school.
These are not good news for “homework”, but if so why it is so popular and widely applied. Maybe what we need is a new word instead of “homework”, how about “continued learning” or “ongoing growth activities”?
We want children to understand that they are always learners even outside school. So it makes no sense to even advertise a “no homework” policy in a school. It sends the wrong message. The policy should be, “No time-wasting, rote, repetitive tasks will be assigned that lack clear instructional or learning purposes.”
As a teacher, we know that by assigning homework, the teacher significantly extends the classroom learning time, that a teacher should never assign homework on a topic that has not been practiced first in the classroom. It should be difficult enough to challenge a student, but not so difficult that the student feels overwhelmed. Assignments should be graded and feedback should be provided.
Homework will be extended learning time if the students are inspired enough to want to practice the skills obtained class. Then make homework worth doing so they will want to do it.
What about Blended Learning? In Blended Learning teachers set up learning management accounts (LMS) on places like Moodle. They assigned students work and research projects through the LMS and students did the work at home. When they came to class, the teacher would either review what they had done individually, or step up the learning by providing further opportunities to apply their knowledge in group projects.
Children should be encouraged to read, write, perform arithmetic, better understand the world around them in terms of civics, science, and the arts, and, of course, develop their people skills: their emotional intelligence. This encouragement should be part of everyday family interactions outside of school, and the school should provide developmental guidance to all parents, in the appropriate languages, to help them do this. Experts agree on the value of parents taking an interest in their children’s intellectual and academic life.
Above all, schools should remind parents to never lose sight of modeling for their children the value of close relationships, support, caring, and fun. That is the most important “home work” of all.
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BlogDebunking Homework Myths
BlogHomework vs. No Homework Is the Wrong Question
A group of French parents and teachers have called for a two-week boycott of homework in schools, saying it is useless, tiring and reinforces inequalities between children.
They say homework pushes the responsibility for learning on parents and causes rows between themselves and their children. And they conclude children would be better off reading a book.
"If the child hasn't succeeded in doing the exercise at school, I don't see how they're going to succeed at home," said Jean-Jacques Hazan, the president of the FCPE, the main French parents' association, which represents parents and pupils in most of France's educational establishments.
"In fact, we're asking parents to do the work that should be done in lessons."
Homework is officially banned in French primary schools, and has been since 1956. But many teachers ignore this and send children home with exercises to do. Older children often spend up to an hour each evening doing homework, and longer at the weekend or on Wednesdays when most schools close.
Catherine Chabrun, president of the teachers' organisation Co-operative Institute of Modern Schools (ICEM), says homework also reinforces inequalities.
"Not all families have the time or the necessary knowledge to help their offspring," she said.
The protesters calling for the ban say no one is contesting the idea of children being given "devoirs" – or exercises – just that they should be done during the school day and not at home. "Teachers don't realise the unbelievable pressure they are putting children under," said Hazan.
The question of whether young children should do homework has been a matter of fierce debate and disagreement in France since 1912. The anti-homework campaigners stand little chance of banning it, even for two weeks, but their blog, which has already had 22,000 visits in the past fortnight, hopes to put the perennial controversy back on the political agenda.
On the blog, Mado, the mother of a young pupil in her first primary school class (aged 6-7), writes: "My daughter is completely stressed … often she doesn't have time to finish her homework and she is afraid of being told off." She signs off: "Thanks for your blog. I feel less alone!"
A statement from the FCPE said: "Either a pupil has understood the lesson and succeeded in doing the exercises in class, in which case homework is a waste of time and stops them reading, for example, or they haven't understood and it's not at home in the absence of a teacher that they're going to do better."
Not all parents agree. Myriam Menez, general secretary of PEEP, another school parents' association, told Le Parisien giving primary school children homework prepared them for secondary school."Of course it has to be reasonable, but going back over a lesson is the best way of learning things," she said.