Homework should be scrapped in the early years of primary school and its place in high schools reviewed amid concerns it is a practice without any academic benefits.Wow! Homework, the custom of assigning extra work to students so that they can practice the lessons learned in their classrooms in order to further develop and cement new skills, is an “overbearing invasion of family life.” The basis for this statement, according to Terry Aulich, the council executive officer:
The national umbrella organization of parents and citizens groups, the Australian Council of State School Organizations, has called for a review of the setting of homework, arguing there is no evidence that students benefit from the practice and that it has become an overbearing invasion of family life.
There is nothing to [PROVE] homework gives kids an advantage in terms of literacy and numeracy.That is what Mr. Aulich said. Admittedly, this is what my brain heard: “Education is an overbearing invasion of family life, a downright inconvenience for me and my children.” I wonder if this gentleman would advocate the elimination of soccer practice if his favorite team PROVED they could win games without it? As a homeschool educator, a continuing education student, and the daughter of a teacher, I must confess I am an advocate FOR this particular invasion of family life because, despite the lack of a study demonstrating its benefits, I have seen the results of homework completion reflected in student comprehension. Those who finish homework have a better command of the subject matter at hand; those who refuse to do homework generally don’t understand the subject matter as well.
That said, I would not dispute the fact that the amount of homework assigned is often excessive, especially in the primary grades, possibly giving rise to the physical and emotional exhaustion experienced by students mentioned in the article. The rule when I was in school, and that I have used with my own students, was ten minutes of homework per grade level for the average child. For example, the average first grader should be assigned work that can be completed in ten minutes; the average twelfth grader should be assigned work that can be finished in 120 minutes (or two hours). Of course, non-average students may require more, or less, time to complete their assignments.
I believe the problem with homework lies in a lack of time management skill on the part of the student and on the part of the parents, plus a lack of reading skill on the part of the child. Using the aforementioned homework assignment guidelines, families should EXPECT (and allow for) the required homework time EVERY evening, an extremely difficult task given the level of sports participation in some families. Students should EXPECT (and allow for) a period of focus on their studies during a daily homework time. Parents should also make certain their children can read well for their grade level; better skills often result in shorter homework completion times. If superior reading skill is problematic for your child, seek help in this area as soon as possible. The extra effort to improve reading speed and comprehension will eventually pay off for both the student and the family.
My last word of advice on this subject: don’t ban homework and don’t think of it as an “overbearing invasion of family life.” Instead, embrace this time-honored custom of skill practice for what it is: a step in the development of a disciplined mind. Make homework (and education in general) a priority so you can keep it in perspective and, thereby, help your children discern the difference between the love of learning and the practice of discipline.