The ongoing contentions about the importance of homework have been in discussion for years among educators, parents and students. There are parents and educators who support this practice but there are also those who are not in favor of making students do extra school work at home. There are even some countries that implement a no homework policy. Is homework really an integral part of learning?
List of Pros of Homework
1. It makes up for the insufficient time children spend in school to learn.
Proponents say that giving school children activities to do at home can offer them more time to master a subject. Teachers give school assignments to students on the lessons they have tackled in the classroom to assess if students have understood what was learned from academic subjects like Math, Physics and English. Advocates of homework believe the time spent in school to learn is not always sufficient and letting students spend extra time to solve problems and learn new vocabulary words is crucial to their learning . It also serves as a foundation for further learning that students will benefit from in the long run.
2. It is an effective way for students to learn discipline.
People who support the giving of homework to students is a way to teach young individuals and growing children discipline since they will have to learn how to focus and set aside unimportant activities to prioritize finishing the tasks they have to submit the following day. For homework supporters, not giving students school work at home might make them derelict with their studies and be lazy.
3. Mastery of knowledge and skills depend on practice.
Aside from the time allotted for students to learn during class hours, continuing their learning at home can enhance what they already know. Take home activities give students more time to practice. Homework given to college and high school students give them more time to master their subjects and absorb the teachings of their professors and teachers.
4. Parents can see what their children are doing in school and help with the homework as well.
Another benefit of homework is to both the parents and students. If students have school work to do at home, parents will be able to see the kind of education their kids are getting. They are assured their children are into their studies and are really learning from school. Moreover, this can be a bonding time between parents and children especially if they will be able to help their kids with their homework and school projects.
5. It can instill good study habits and reduce time spent on watching television and playing video games.
By giving students projects and take home assignments, students, especially the younger ones can acquire good study habits at an early age. With the evolution of technology and the myriad of gadgets and computer games to keep children distracted, it is best to give them something worthwhile to do so they can understand the importance of studying and learn to like it as well. Moreover, they will be motivated to use their gadgets and computers for studying and research instead of spending hours playing video games, checking their Facebook accounts and watching television on end.
6. It prepares them for the real world once they finish education.
By giving homework, children will learn to be responsible, solve problems, analyze, manage their time and take on responsibilities. The skills they learn from school are the same skills they will need when they start their independence and be young adults. Proponents are firm in saying that when these kids become adults and be members of the workforce or even be entrepreneurs themselves, they will be using what they have or not have learned while studying. Extra time spent at home for doing school work can help them overcome the challenges they will face when they get out of the real world.
List of Cons of Homework
1. It can be stressful for the student especially for young kids.
Critics argue that homework given to students especially the younger school children are too much to handle. If this is the case, homework can be a stressor instead of a motivator. If bombarded with lessons at school and even at home, children might lose interest and worse, dread school days. This is a concern that bothers some parents and even educators.
2. It is not as effective as proponents say it is.
Some opponents say that homework is not a guarantee that students will master skills and absorb what they learned from school. They say that some parents or tutors are the ones doing the homework instead of the students. If this is the case, giving homework is irrelevant when it comes to knowledge enhancement. They also point out that there are students with parents to help them with their school projects and there are those who don’t have parents to guide them which make homework an uneven playing filed for students.
3. Homework does not necessarily result to improving school performance.
For opponents, homework gives less or no benefit when it comes to motivating students to improve performance in school. They oppose what proponents are saying that there is a positive correlation between homework and how students perform in school for the reason that not all students have equal levels of intelligence. What might be helpful and easy for students who are good in a certain subject might be useless and difficult to students who have different levels of intelligence.
4. It can be a burden to students, especially younger kids.
With all the activities in school, both academic and extracurricular, students, specifically the young ones, are already tired when they get home. Having to solve difficult math problems, memorize long lines or read several chapters can be tiresome for them. Not only will they end up staying up late but they might not be able to absorb anything.
Both proponents and opponents have presented rational and acceptable views about homework. While it can be an effective way to master the skills of students, too much homework can also drain the minds of students. Perhaps one question needs to be answered. How much homework should a student has to be given? In the end, it is best to assess the student’s level of learning and give homework accordingly.
My kids returned to school just last week. I expect that this week, the homework will begin. I'm dreading it. Between our two kids' extracurricular activities and our professions, my husband and I seriously struggle to do anything else with our kids BUT homework. So as I unanxiously wait for the homework to start rolling in, I thought I'd take a closer look at what homework is, why it's necessary (or not), and how effective it is. What I found? Homework debate: pros, cons,...and I still don't like it!
Homework Debate: Cons
I thought this was an interesting way to start. This statement is from an Education.com article "The Homework Debate":
'“Homework is all pain and no gain,” says author Alfie Kohn. In his book The Homework Myth, Kohn points out that no study has ever found a correlation between homework and academic achievement in elementary school, and there is little reason to believe that homework is necessary in high school. In fact, it may even diminish interest in learning, says Kohn.'
I also found this statement by Nancy Kalish, author of "The Case Against Homework: How Homework Is Hurting Our Children and What We Can Do About It" in Jay Mattews' column in the Washington Post was also very provoking:
"Another disturbing fact...is how little training teachers get when it comes to homework. Only one teacher in hundreds that we surveyed said she had ever taken a class specifically on homework. If you look into this, as we did, you'll find that most teacher training programs, even at top universities such as Harvard, don't include such courses."
The realm of education seems to be one that is concerned with making sure that teachers are constantly learning about new theories and techniques. So, the fact that so few educators are taught about homework really surprised me.
I read many, many articles and statements about how homework exhausts kids and has little educational value. Over and over again I came across these arguments.
Homework Debate: Pros
Okay, so where is the argument in favor of homework? Honestly, I struggled to find it. Really struggled. But this is the gist of what I found...
Homework keeps kids from watching too much TV.
Homework increases school performance on standardized testing.
Jay Matthews, in another Washington Post article, "The Weak Case Against Homework" argues that he remembers "what class was like on days when I had not done my homework. I remember what it was like on days when I had. The latter was a much more engaging and useful educational experience than the former."
That was seriously underwhelming. So...
I still don't like it
I was very disappointed in what I found as I read more and more about the topic of homework. I was hoping to find some inspiration or enthusiasm for homework. But I still don't like it. And, I do have some frame of reference, after all I was a student for many years myself. Granted, I can honestly say that not all homework is bad. But there is a lot of it, period. And a lot of it that in my opinion is frustrating for parents, and most importantly frustrating for students.
What would I like to see? Meaningful homework. I'm guessing that most teachers already feel that their homework is meaningful. But according to what I've read, we really don't know as teachers aren't necessarily taught about homework and what is effective and what isn't.
Homework that doesn't intimidate my kids or me. If my kids get homework, I want it to be something that they can reasonably achieve on their own and be successful. I want to see quality homework rather than quantity. My dream would be for teachers to work together so they could get a picture of what a kid's homework would look like when all their assignments are put together.
I know, I know...but it's my dream.
I'm looking forward to some comments that will help show people like me the value and need for homework. Help me!