Posts Tagged ‘the homework debate’

What is Your Position on the Homework Debate?

September 28, 2014


I used to be very much against homework, but have softened my stance insomuch as I believe that homework is preferable to hours watching television or playing on a game console. It is interesting that experts are still divided on this matter:


DESPERATE parents are hiring private tutors to turbo-charge their children’s education because they are unhappy with the amount and quality of homework set by schools.

Education experts are so divided about the merits of homework that growing numbers of families are signing up their children for outside coaching to supplement classwork.

Education insiders have told The Saturday Telegraph that homework policies vary enormously between schools and often between teachers at the same school.

The homework row has been fuelled by a parliamentary inquiry in Victoria that found it had almost no academic benefits for primary school students.

And in France a plan by President Francois Hollande to abolish homework in French schools reignited a long-running debate.

The Australian Tutoring Association said many parents enrolled their children in private coaching to ensure they received “structured support” outside of school.

Chief executive Mohan Dhall said homework was often given to primary school children without explaining why it was set and without an obvious reason and purpose.

“There does not seem to be a sense of order or purpose about school homework — just an ad-hoc program that does not always meet the needs of kids,” Mr Dhall said. “A lot of parents think it is unstructured — additional work for children needs to be meaningful and engage them in higher-order thinking.”

Teachers argue there is no one-size-fits-all policy for homework.

Some experts claim children should spend their time after school playing and letting their brains wind down so they can get a good night’s sleep to absorb the day’s learning.

Newly released data reveals Australian children have the fifth greatest homework load globally, with 15-year-olds receiving about six hours’ a week compared to the OECD average of 4.9 hours.

The research shows private school students do about two hours of homework more than their peers in public schools.

Schools are also facing a groundswell of opposition to homework as doctors advise it is bad for children’s sleep and educators and academics claim it is of little benefit.


Click on the link to read The Adult Version of the Dog that Ate my Homework

Click on the link to read Fourth Graders Quizzed about Infidelity in Homework Assignment

Click on the link to read Young Child Shows Dissatisfaction with his Homework (Photo)

Click on the link to read Why I Changed My Mind About Homework

Click on the link to read Leave Parents Alone When it Comes to Homework

Why I Changed My Mind About Homework

November 12, 2012

When I started my teaching journey I was dead against homework. I didn’t see the value of prescribing work at the end of a long school day. I preferred to let my students take on after-school activities like sports and dance and hoped that the extra time could be used to help with chores and spending quality time with the family. I also felt that homework was a common cause of friction in a family. Homework tends to be the subject of arguments between parents and their children. By avoiding homework, I had hoped that I could play my part in reducing tensions between my students and their parents.

And then I changed my mind.

It wasn’t a complete 180 degree turn. I have observed the myriad of arguments against homework, and as hypocritical as it sounds, I agree with nearly all of them.

Yet, I couldn’t help but change my position.

Two reasons triggered my change of heart:

1. I had noticed that children nowadays are involved with fewer after-school activities than ever before. In fact, many believe that children are less active now than they have ever been. Students seem to spend most of their after-school time glued to a screen. Many even eat dinner in front of a screen. From iPads to iPhones, laptops to television sets, children aren’t using their home time as effectively as I’d hoped. Of course some are, but most clearly aren’t. If my 10-15 minutes of homework a day is enough to break up a child’s daily screen time regimen, I can’t see that as a bad thing.

2. As much as I get a kick out of the classroom breakthroughs, there is nothing more satisfying than watching a child succeed on their own. Too much of the emphasis in teaching involves spoonfeeding the curriculum. The teacher is always there, always supporting , always guiding. Some children capatalise on this arrangement and defer every challenge back to the teacher. This is not altogether a bad thing. The child does progress that way. They do learn skills from the extra time with their classroom teacher. But what they don’t seem to learn is self sufficiency. They don’t learn how to do things on their own, think for themselves. Achievement is the greatest ingredient in developing a positive self-esteem. True achievement occurs when one works through a problem without any immediate help.

The trick then is too ensure that the child doesn’t run to their parents for assistance. That would defeat the whole entire purpose of homework. That’s why I administer homework with the following underlying principles:

  1. Homework should be revision.  It should not introduce a new concept or skill.  It should simply be a vehicle for students to demonstrate how well they understood what was covered in class that week.  If the child is bringing home work that was not introduced in class, I advise you to see the teacher.
  2. Most teachers give a few days to complete the homework.  I strongly urge my students to use night one to read over the homework and circle any question that they don’t understand.  Then, instead of approaching their parents, come see me the next day with anything that may have caused confusion.  Of course, I am not restricting the parents from helping their kids, I am merely offering my help as the first option.  In my opinion, parents have already spent most of their youth completing homework, they have paid their debt to education and should now be allowed to enjoy a homework-free life.
  3. When the student approaches the teacher early on about difficulties in the homework, they are showing a great deal of responsibility and assertiveness.  This isn’t lost on me.  So if the students maintain this sort of dialogue with me, extensions are likely to be given should they struggle to meet the deadline.
  4. My advice to parents when assisting their children through a homework task is patience and perspective.  Offer your services by all means, but ensure that their children are the ones that end up having ownership of their own work.  Kids are not proud of their parents homework, they are proud of their own achievements.  Whilst instilling independence and confidence in children may sometimes feel like an overwhelming proposition, the payoff is huge.  I would rather my students hand in a piece of homework that they took ownership of that was full of mistakes than a brilliant piece ultimately done by mum or dad.

It’s not that I disagree with the opponents of homework (in fact I agree with most of what they say), I just think that homework isn’t the evil some make it out to be.

Click on the link to read Leave Parents Alone When it Comes to Homework

Click on the link to read Parents Urged to do the Job of a Teacher

Click on the link to read This is What You Get for Doing Your Homework

Click on the link to read Experts Call For Homework to Be Abolished

Click on the link to read The Case in Favour of Homework


Leave Parents Alone When it Comes to Homework

October 7, 2012


I always tell the parents of my students when they inquire about homework that it is NOT their job to do homework. They already had their lifetime supply of homework when they were a child. Why should they have to revisit primary school homework as an adult?

I am expected to give homework as it is part of my school’s philosophy. Even so, I am very careful that the homework is merely a revision of what I am covering in class. There is nothing new and it’s certainly not a random worksheet designed to keep the students occupied.

I then encourage my students to merely read their homework on the first night (they don’t have to actually begin it), and if there is anything they don’t understand, to circle it and let me know about it the next school day. Explaining the homework is NOT the responsibility of parents, it’s the responsibility of teachers. No parent should ever feel compelled to sit down and figure out their child’s schoolwork.

The home is for quality family time not the stresses and arguments that occur when children rely on their parents to spoon feed them their homework answers.

That is why I found this article particularly grating:

TEACHERS want parents to sign homework contracts so mums and dads acknowledge what is expected of them and their children.

The age-old homework debate about what’s too much and what’s not enough has been thrust back into the spotlight after Federal Parliament set up an inquiry into teaching, including the “influence of family members”.

Queensland Teachers’ Union president Kevin Bates said parents needed to be involved in their children’s after-school learning.

“It’s at the point of enrolment. You sign-up, like a contract (and) it provides expectations … some schools already do it.”

It comes as the Australia Education Union president Angelo Gavrielatos has conceded homework had become a burden for some families who were struggling with modern life.

“There are growing levels of parental anxiety (with homework). Every parent wants their kids to have an edge,” Mr Gavrielatos said.

“I’ve heard it said before that homework is a burden on parents.”

He said some parents claimed their kids got too much and others wanted more. Some parents did homework for their children.

Age-appropriate homework was proven to help children learn. However, schools with students from lower socio-economic backgrounds should get more government funding to help set up systems such as homework centres, he said.

Queensland Education Minister John-Paul Langbroek said he understood how parents had become anxious about helping with their children’s schoolwork.

“It’s our job to make sure we work with them and point out to them that your child doesn’t need to get everything right,” Mr Langbroek said.

He said parents had complained to him, saying, “I’m not a teacher”.

Click on the link to read Parents Urged to do the Job of a Teacher

Click on the link to read This is What You Get for Doing Your Homework

Click on the link to read Experts Call For Homework to Be Abolished

Click on the link to read The Case in Favour of Homework

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