Homework Should Not Be Given

Homework Should Not Be Given-15
Parents are, however, in a difficult situation when it comes to appeasing the school and enforcing its completion.

Parents are, however, in a difficult situation when it comes to appeasing the school and enforcing its completion.

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France is an excellent comparison for the US, for its education system is broadly similar: the school day lasts roughly from a.m. though with the difference that most students have Wednesdays, Saturday afternoons and Sundays off.

With children of both countries spending a similar amount of time at school, this means that Hollande’s proposal could readily be implemented, if not at least seriously debated, in the US. The reason is that homework favors society’s elites, and these elites want to maintain the status quo.

Indeed, I look back with fondness on friends whose constant failure to even attempt the set homework was matched only by the constantly poor excuses they offered to the teacher: ‘some homeless guy on the bus’ (who presumably had a profound interest in long-shore drift) ‘stole it’ remains my personal favorite.

As a teacher my relationship with homework has taken on a new dynamic.

It favors the children of the wealthy and educated not by educating their children, but by ensuring they tick boxes, achieve grades and are taught competition.

There will always be parents who’ll ask for more homework to be assigned and who’ll rally against attempts to curtail the already almost impossible workload, confident in the belief that stunts to their children’s development, their short-term suffering, will be compensated by their future prosperity. Without wanting to be completely utilitarian, it’s our duty as educators, parents and general enforcers of homework to question the merit of what we’re asking our children to do.In a recent tutorial, a 16 year-old Italian student of mine had to write a two-page critique in English of Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s – a poem so archaic that even I as a mother-tongue English speaker struggle in parts.I’m not for one moment questioning the value of studying literature, but writing an essay on Romantic English literature when your spoken English is too elementary to accurately verbally communicate seems like a waste of time. In another tutorial, a student’s homework was to translate a page of dense grammatical explanations (meant for advanced adults) about the third-conditional into Italian; an exercise that astounded me not only because of the dastardly difficulty and pointlessness of the task, but also because my students English-comprehension was so low that it soon became apparent that the nervous boy sitting before me had absolutely no idea what he was reading.For those who don’t, however, and whose children attend a school that sets it in large amounts, they find themselves in a position where they are obliged to police their children and ensure it gets done; going against their own principals and presumably those they would undoubtedly like to instill in their children.These homework apologists may recognize the fact that homework to a large extent serves to compensate for the failings of the school system.Mine tend to consist of horrendously early mornings spent either trying to disentangle apparently impossible mathematical equations, or frantically scribbling a series of unsubstantiated (though passably well-articulated) ideas and interpretations for a humanities assignment.On a particularly bad morning, I’d have to do both.Homework encourages competition, and parents will pay to get the edge with private tutors. Homework is about memorization not education, and there is a case to be made that if you were able to do the homework it never needed to be done, whereas if you weren’t able to do it, you haven’t learnt anything so the whole exercise was pointless.Here are a few such examples of pointless homework.Unfortunately, when it comes to content, instead of encouraging reflection on the topic covered in class, or curiosity-led research into further facets of the subject, homework tasks often constitute new material that could not be covered in class.Not only does this mean that we’re unable to tailor homework to the student’s specific academic needs, but it also means that the homework material has often not been pre-taught – something that makes the more conscientious in our profession feel incredibly guilty as we feel we’re letting our students down.


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