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We’re shortly going to look at the negative health effects homework can have on children.
As we’ll see later, work that doesn’t get done at school – often through no fault of the child’s – is set as homework.
The idea that it is the child’s responsibility to make up for this, however, is one that parents have to feel comfortable with before they can preach to their children about doing it.
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.
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.One thing that teachers won’t like to admit is that, with so many arbitrary targets, rigid curricula and time constraints on those in our profession being set across education systems worldwide, high homework rates are inevitable.In fact, the last 23 years have seen an increase from two hours 38 minutes to three hours 58 minutes in the time spent doing homework each week: something that all-too conveniently mirrors trends in governmental target increases.The prevalence of this practice is confirmed by data, which shows that the amount of homework set by teachers is relative to their level of experience.Indeed, as revealed in a 2007 Met Life study into US schools, only fourteen percent of teachers with over 21 years experience assign more than an hour’s homework a night compared to 14 percent of teachers with between zero and five years experience.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.This part of Hollande’s address was entirely in line with his liberal principals.As president of France’s (Socialist Party), Hollande recognizes homework as an anti-egalitarian instrument that benefits children who come from wealthy backgrounds, who have healthy working environments that are conducive to learning, and who have parents willing to lend time and energy to helping them.This, in part, must be explained by the more experienced teachers’ ability to condense their lessons to fit the curriculum – a good working-system for achieving grades, but one not suitable for education in its own right.Short of introducing an outright ban, a more effective system at least would be for us to invest more time coordinating amongst ourselves to make sure that we’re neither setting too much homework at the same time nor overlapping on test dates.