Most children complain about it, many parents have mixed feelings about it. Homework. Too much, too little. Love it or hate it, homework is a part of your child’s education and daily life. From experience, homework is one of the main school topics that divide parents’ opinions, almost globally.
For some families, the perception of homework is an opportunity to study more, learn more and therefore progress more. For others, homework is a disruptor to family life, getting in the way and causing untold frustration to children and parents alike. For the school it is work that must be given, returned (or chased up) and marked.
Finland, a country that constantly ranks at the top of the PISA tests (Program for International Student Assessment), has no homework in its schools, Bahrain recently announced no homework in government schools. At the other end of the spectrum, China averages 14 hours a week with Russia close behind having ten hours per week.
The debate for homework, pro and anti, has been heating up over recent years and more educationalists and researchers are turning their attentions on an activity that we have all long accepted as a part and parcel of education.
I’d like to draw your attention to current beliefs of the benefits and the drawbacks of homework in society today. I am going to sit on the fence and try not to give my opinions either way and see what conclusions you come to, read on with an open mind as I outline five arguments for and five arguments against homework.
Clearly homework can be beneficial and can also be detrimental. Perhaps its not homework as an activity, but what the homework actually is. The points above are aimed at parents and students. Equally, I could discuss the pros and cons of homework from a school’s point of view and they would similarly be as compelling. For as many parents that agree or disagree with the notion of homework, you will find an identical number of teachers that argue for or against work at home for children.
Whether you agree or disagree, children are different from each other, and you know your child. Some children thrive with extra work, some simply refuse. Others enjoy different types of homework, and some children need support, not extra work they don’t understand.
It is the school’s responsibility to make sure homework is relevant and doable (but not in Finland). It shouldn’t simply be completing work not finished in class. It is a parent’s responsibility to support their child and encourage and also protect, children should not be spending hours and hours on a task, the teacher needs to know if a child is struggling, to help support them and not to move on in the lesson too quickly for them.
So, are you for or against? Is it time for a change or should schools continue with homework?
Ian Gross is the Principal at Kinabalu International School, Sabah, Malaysia and is currently studying for a Doctorate in Education through Bath University, UK.
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