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Experts Call For Homework to Be Abolished

I was once strongly opposed to homework, but I have since softened my approach. It’s not that I believe homework is a good thing, it’s just that I have observed what children do withn the extra time and I can’t say it’s productive. Quite apart from playing in the backyard or walking the dog, kids are more likely to spend their waking hours on the computer or watching television.

Whilst experts believe abolishing homework will free up time for healthy activities, the truth is that it will only result in more time in front of a screen.

CHILDREN are spending too much time “sitting around”, looking at screens and doing homework, when they should be outside playing.

New Deakin University research suggests parents should encourage children to play the old-fashioned way outside with mates rather than nagging them to complete homework or allowing them to watch TV or use computers, the Geelong Advertiser reports.

Associate head of research at Deakin’s School of Exercise and Nutrition Sciences, Professor Jo Salmon, yesterday said pushing kids outdoors to play would help improve the health and happiness of children.

Parents needed to set rules around the amount of screen time children were allowed every day, and enforce a limit of two hours in total, Professor Salmon said.

They should also try not to place too much academic pressure on their kids and recognise that playing outside and being active was probably better for children than sitting inside practising spelling or sums.

While previous generations of children would come home from school, have a quick snack and then head straight outside to play until dinner time, most children now came home from school and propped on the couch, their bed or at a desk, she said.

Recently named one Australia’s top child health researchers by the National Health and Medical Research Council, Professor Salmon said while she was an optimist by nature, she was concerned for the future health of Australian children.

I was once an optimist too. I hoped that instead of homework, my students could help wash dishes or take on some other household duties. I hoped they could go to the library and borrow books. But that is not what happens in reality.

So I am now faced with a choice. Do I prescribe homework that serves as revision for skills taught during the week in class or do I just let them use the extra time for more television and video games?

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5 Responses to “Experts Call For Homework to Be Abolished”

  1. Carl D'Agostino Says:

    Miami Dade County mandates 2 homework assignments a week. The subjects alternate days. Except for college bound, 80% never did homework at all. 10 % did and the other 10 % was copied. Based on 2 assignments per week x 9 weeks would equal 18 F’s or zeros in the grade book. I will let you speculate where I am going with this.

  2. John Tapscott Says:

    I can relate to that dilemma, Michael. As a teacher I detested the whole idea of homework and reasoned that primary school children, at least, should be free to play outside after school, just as I had done. Besides one had to mark any homework set, which took valuable time from other work. I reasoned that, if teachers did their job properly in the classroom, homework would be redundant. Even so, I could see the value of homework as a discipline, helping to develop worthwhile habits in the child. In my book it was always intended for the practice of skills learned in school, not to learn things for which their was no time in school. We have all seen the pain of a child crying in frustration at being unable to complete a homework assignment. For me this is a wake up call that my student has not grasped something taught in the classroom. However, some parents make such a deal of the issue that the child becomes frozen in failure. Time spent on homework should not be long for younger children, gradually increasing through the grades. I have a book in my library entitled, “The End of Homework”. Interesting. The word “end” can mean “cessation” or it can mean “goal”. Perhaps we should gather from that, that unless homework has a goal, it is pointless?

  3. Margaret Reyes Dempsey Says:

    Michael, you say “…it’s just that I have observed what children do with the extra time and I can’t say it’s productive. Quite apart from playing in the backyard or walking the dog, kids are more likely to spend their waking hours on the computer or watching television.”

    That may be true for lots of families, but not all. I resent the amount of homework my child gets because he wouldn’t be playing video games or watching TV. He loves to be outdoors and use his imagination and there’s not enough time for that because of all the freaking homework. He’s in school from 8 till 3, home and starting homework at 3:30, breaking for dinner at 5:30, back to homework at 6:30, showering at 8, and a bit more studying before bed. That’s crazy and wrong. He has absolutely no time for himself.

    I don’t think it’s up to the teachers or school to play “control freak” and decide that what kids do in their home life isn’t valuable so we’ll just load them up with homework. It’s really none of their business. Focus should remain on the school day and improving the learning that happens there.

    • John Tapscott Says:

      Absolutely. Children need time at home to be children. I remember one astute 4th grade student at a school camp, when the Principal came to visit. Kids were running around, playing with whatever was at hand and it appeared the Principal didn’t know what to make of it. This student paused in her activity for a few seconds to remark to him, “It’s OK Mr M. We’re just being kids.” What a crack up! (Sounds like the title of a good book on Education.)

  4. eurekareading Says:

    Reblogged this on Eureka Reading and commented:
    Following on from yesterday’s blog, a great piece from Topical Teaching. Take time to read the comments too.

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